Ricard Camarena

October 3, 2018

Ricard Camarena The work that Ricard Camarena does at the gastronomic restaurant that bears his name, Ricard Camarena, at the Canalla Bistro, and at his other premises, is accompanied by a particular intuition he has; cooking with freedom with locally-sourced produce, and with, I would say, a primitive sensuality. It has been a long time since he started out, working at the municipal pool at the small town where he lived; opening Arrop and Food in 2004; Ricard Camarena Restaurant in 2012, and a Lab in 2014... And on the entire journey he has been accompanied by his wife, Mari Carmen Bañuls. He says that his cuisine is market-based, one of kitchen gardens, of essence and flavours. In addition, I would add that it is also elegant. Ricard is energetic as a cook, but calm as a person; he does very serious things, updating cooking with respect for flavours and personal hallmarks, and allowing the personality of the produce to come through. The pronounced flavour of his dishes is the result of his training. Ricard is, without a doubt, a person appreciated in this culinary world, a great cook. Since he started his own two-Michelin-starred restaurant, and then Canalla and Habitual, there is a leap in quality, and within it is the ideological and coordinating work that he does when setting up these projects; choosing, training and encouraging his staff to work with him, setting out the fundamental criteria. At the helm of Habitual, of Canalla in Valencia and Canalla in Madrid, he has managed to create new scenarios and oversee everything: the cuisine, selecting the produce, the decoration, furniture, uniforms and the creation of the graphic design all the way to launching in the media. I was impressed by his calmness, his critical thinking, the knowledge he has and the way he expresses it. And particularly by the way he manages his team. His Canalla Bistro restaurant in Valencia and the one in Madrid are two accessible avant-garde masterpieces that fulfil complex goals, such as ‘Enjoying pastrami as if you were in New York’, or tasting an ‘okonomiyaki or an eel nigiri as if you were in Osaka’. His ‘Russian salad with stuffed olive foam’ is delicious and the presentation is impressively aesthetic; but there is much more: ‘A touch of frying that’s very different’, ‘Raw/marinated and something else’, ‘To eat with your hands...or not’, ‘From the sea and from the land...’, ‘To end...’ Camarena has earned the highest respect of the culinary world for his particular ability to find the flavour in ingredients, respecting them and the way they are cooked, translating the results into unforgettable dishes. By Mikel Zeberio