Chef Ángel León
Restaurante Aponiente, Puerto de Santa María
One of the most outstanding figures in cooking from southern Spain. His philosophy is based on making the best, often in surprising ways, of all sea produce, with the strongest sensitivity as well as technique. Since childhood, he has shared his father’s passion for fish. It was from fishing that he began to discover the secrets of different species, which is how he managed to create his first dishes aged nine. Starting with the fish of Cadiz, his devotion extended to gastronomy, which he went on to study in Seville, France and the north of Spain, until taking the reigns at La Casa del Temple, in Toledo. And now he has had the doors of his restaurant Aponiente open since 2007, where he develops all the techniques he has been working on in recent years, and where he gets the opportunity every now and again to escape to go and fish, to keep on learning about the ways of the sea. One of the Spanish chefs who has most fully explored the spectrum of produce from fish, the work of his restless mind has even lead him to enlist on fishing boats from Mauritania to the Norwegian Fjords. And all between his many studies: the relation between the way a fish is killed and the quality of its meat; bettering the use of fish discards; the potential of fish scales as a natural thickening agent; the use of the vitreous humour of fish eyes; developing a machine (Clarimax) which uses marine algae to eliminate up to 94% of fat from a liquid; the treatment of olive stones as a fuel; creating a plancton “salsa” (his big hit, used by a huge number of chefs); creating sausages and salamis solely from fish; applying movement across the sound of a dish; expressing the complete marine food chain in his menu; forming the bioluminescence of the ocean on a plate; using unclotted fish blood as a sauce… His current restaurant, with a sober contemporary interior, offers intimacy and very direct contact with the chef. It has two Michelin stars. And between his latest prizes – Al Andalus best chef 2011; Prize for Andalucian Agriculture and Fish Innovation Initiative; Andalucian Tourism Business Prize; Prize for the International Academy of Gastronomy; “Chef L’Avenir” category 2011; Royal Academy of Gastronomy Best Chef 2012; Chef Millésimé Prize 2013 – he consults for el Bistreau, the restaurant of the Mandarin hotel in Barcelona. And this year he opens a new restaurant/marine studies workshop on the estuary of El Puerto de Santa María.
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