Smoked Room Madrid: “Now I earn a lot, but I have had a bad time and I have lacked money”: the unusual journey of chef Dani García | Gastronomy


The Smoked Room restaurant has made history by suddenly gaining two Michelin stars. Something exceptional because Michelin inspectors usually give them one at a time and sometimes many years apart. But this small temple of charcoal and smoked meat, in which Dani García puts his ideas and Massimiliano Delle Vedove executes them, has broken the mold.

“They have told me that, beyond the changes of premises, no restaurant had managed to go from zero to two stars since 1936 … so I am very happy,” explains Dani García. “It was clear to me that it is a concept of a high level, with technique, exclusivity and, above all, a lot of respect for the product. We knew we had something handsome, but you don’t think about the stars and even less with everything that has happened.”

Asked if he thinks Smoked Room could end up becoming a three-star Michelin restaurant, he doesn’t hesitate anyway: “If you’ve won two in a year, you have options. With the level of performance they have and soaking up what we want to do it, I think so “.

Dani García, in Smoked Room. / DANI GARCÍA GROUP

Dani García’s story is totally atypical. First of all because, years ago, it became the spearhead of Andalusian haute cuisine, freeing those who could have them from complexes and leading a brilliant generation that also includes Ángel León, Paco Morales and Pedro Sánchez, among others.

A successful path, but full of unexpected twists, such as the failure of his business in New York or the controversial decision to create hamburgers for McDonald’s. But the most unusual happened in 2018, when he finally achieved his coveted third Michelin star and, a week later, announced the closure of his gastronomic restaurant to focus on more popular models.

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Since then, he has presented a recipe program on TVE, has opened several mid-range and upper-middle-range restaurants, and has started a food delivery company: La Gran Familia Mediterránea. Therefore, although many did not expect that come back, he has done it … and in style!

Grilled mayonnaise

Opened just six months ago, Smoked Room is a “boutique restaurant” with only 14 seats spread over a bar and two tables. Its offer is limited to a tasting menu (135 euros) with the grill and smoked items as the protagonists although, according to what they say, the customer does not leave the door smelling smoke: “Now we are going to make a warm crawfish where the mayonnaise is the one that goes grilled. I am no longer tied to the Andalusian thing. I have absolute freedom. “

To talk about Smoked Room, however, it is necessary to mention two other restaurants. On the one hand, Etxebarri, the great benchmark of haute barbecue cuisine, which according to Dani García is on “another level”. And also Santceloni, the restaurant with two stars that, until the outbreak of the pandemic, occupied the premises of Leña and Smoked Room: “They criticized us a lot. It seemed that we had thrown them out, but nothing is further from the truth. And better us Than a pizzeria, right? “

The Smoked Room bar. / DANI GARCÍA GROUP

“I said I would come back”

The emergence of Dani García has been a major surprise, but he assures that, in reality, he had given clues: “In the newspaper library there are interviews in which I said that I would return, but only with a concept oriented to what is high for us. kitchen: in a bar, a little more exclusive, with Japanese trends … and, above all, without putting my name on the door. Dani García Restaurant had all the connotations not to be a free guy “.

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The Malaga chef also explains that Smoked Room was born somewhat unexpectedly. “In the premises there was plenty of space and I didn’t want Leña to be bigger. We talked about a cocktail bar, but in the end we decided to go for a haute cuisine restaurant with a bar. A restaurant run by your team and in which I just have to be aware of the plate changes each season. “

Italian talent

At the helm of Smoked Room, as head chef, is Massimiliano Delle Vedove, an Italian from Pescara who, overnight, has gone from being a stranger for the public (although he had already passed through Mont Bar or Elbarri) to appear in the photo of the chefs with two Michelin stars.

“I always tell him that I wish they had given me something like that at my age,” says Dani García, proud of having found a cook who “executes well” and who, in addition, wanted to move to the capital because his partner is from Madrid.

“I am very grateful to Dani for having created this unique concept in Spain. It is amazing! And we also have a lot of freedom to work with the best seasonal produce. We are obsessed with that”, says the Italian chef.

“Money gives you freedom”

The Smoked Room tasting menu costs 135 euros and, according to Dani García, “nowadays it is a real gift”. But the objective of the restaurant is not to achieve high profitability: “We are a very large company and, having financial muscle, you can work in a different way. This is the jewel. When I decided to leave, I was talking about the pyramid … and this is what we lacked. We don’t even need it to perform economically. For us, it’s not essential. But it does! “

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There is something in Dani García’s way of speaking, however, that makes him seem older than he really is (45 years old): “I have lived through many things in a short time. No one could have written a script with what we have done. We achieved the three stars, we announced the closure, we endured one more year, the pandemic, the start-up of La Gran Familia that we also open abroad … and what’s to come: Paris, Miami … If you sit down and think about them, I’m not older but a lot has happened. “

A journey full of ups and downs, also in his checking account: “Money gives you freedom. It is the only thing that gives you. Without that there would be no Smoked Room. But people are wrong. I have had a bad time and I have missed a lot money. I’m not going to lie to you, now I earn a lot. But it’s a question of freedom. “

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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