Subversive, Delicate and Faithful
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /©ICEX
Translation: Jenny McDonald /©ICEX
Photographer: Spanish chef Marcelo Tejedor. Pablo Neustadt/©ICEX.
A rebel, but with a cause. That was Marcelo Tejedor when he entered the Vigo Hospitality School in Pontevedra, Galicia, as an teenager. And that was how his classmates saw him. But he was able to direct his rebelliousness towards creativity and curiosity, two characteristics that were to mark his future as a professional of gastronomy.
Before opening his very idiosyncratic restaurant in the historic center of Santiago de Compostela in 1999, this Galician chef spent almost a decade in France, working alongside some of the great names such as Bocuse and Ducasse. He also spent a period with Juanmari Arzak , in one of the shrines of great Spanish cuisine, and is grateful for all he learnt from his teachers. The guiding principle he adopted during those years as apprentice, for both his work and his life is, "It is important to question everything, and to set no limits".
In 1999 he found small premises in the Rúa das Hortas, a narrow alley in the old town of Santiago de Compostela, just a few meters from its imposing cathedral. And there he set up his testing-ground, his dining-room, his home. In this tiny space, he fitted a kitchen within a dining-room holding just eight tables. The decor had to be streamlined, with no unnecessary details, just enough to make it warm and welcoming. The ideal place for him to develop his creativity.
But at the beggining things were not easy. Tejedor had no one around he could follow. So his new-fangled ways sometimes clashed with the local traditions. There was no menu, just a taster meal that changed every day, aiming to surprise and please whoever crossed the threshold of Casa Marcelo. But it worked. He became one of the renovators of the regional culinary scene, always taking his inspiration from traditional recipes, re-creating them in his own personal style and using local Galician products - from the sea and from the land. Whenever possible, Tejedor likes to supervise the provisioning of his restaurant and is a regular customer at the local markets.
In 2012 he announced that his restaurant would be closed. A new project? Yes. In April 2012 he opened a new venue devoted to tapas where he will combine Galician cuisine and Japanese gastronomy. It sounds really great, doesn't it?