Ángel León

October 3, 2018

The sea is his banner

This is the man who has revolutionised the world of cooking with all things from the sea. Hailing from Cádiz, he has made fish his banner and he is fiercely proud of it. It is why there is no meat on his menus. Only produce that comes from the sea. A radical decision that has made him a winner, what has endowed him with three Michelin stars, international recognition, and a unique place where he has set up his restaurant Aponiente; an old tide mill. No place could be more perfect. These have been ten years of intense creativity, of breaking moulds and tearing up the rulebook, of opening up new paths, exploring new produce, of forging his own route that is beyond compare, and that not only goes for Spanish cuisine, but for cooking on a global level. But it was not always a bed of roses. Things were tough for Ángel León when he disembarked in El Puerto de Santa María. He was even on the verge of throwing in the towel because of the initial response to his bold culinary ideas – times when the dining was room half empty, times of worry. But he never gave up, nor changed his philosophy. A tireless fighter, he has been able to make his dream come true. Always a trailblazer, he never stops amusing diners with his nods to marine life and his sea-inspired trompe-l’œils, dishes which never forsake flavour and are truly delicious. Very few cooks are able to present new ideas and surprise an audience every time they appear at a congress. At his last two appearances, he showed that he is always a step ahead. And he has appropriated a saying that describes him to perfection: ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’. From his first experiments with plankton, an ingredient now used by cooks all over the world, to the most recent that involve marine fungi or bacon from the pressed or smoked bellies of mullets, gilt-head bream and sea bass, there has been a long path of sustainability and making the very best use of what the sea has to offer. For the time being, there seem to be no limits for this genius who worships the sea. Carlos Maribona