The tightrope walker who doesn’t follow trendsSergio Bastard is one of those restless cooks who, faithful to their gastronomic vision and their identity, do not stop when it comes to improving every aspect of what is offered at their restaurant. It is now a distant memory, but soon after arriving at the Casona del Judío he offered his very personalised tasting menu to just a single table per service; located in the wine cellar it was separate from the casual dining area where fried squid and cod fritters were served. As Sergio consolidated the ideas behind what he served up, he gradually took over the business – shared at first when he first arrived with his wife, Judith, in 2011 – and eventually took complete control of the Casona del Judío in 2019. After eight years of fine tuning and defending his cuisine without losing an ounce of its essence, Bastard today enjoys the maturity, courage, technique and talent of a great cook who, it must be said, is still not as well known as he should be. The coast, the fields, the surrounding area, and the apparently simple dishes – profoundly logical but that hide much work – could serve as a brief summary of what Sergio does: He doesn’t follow trends and mélanges like other cooks, but is faithful to his flavoursome philosophy from which he draws unusual combinations that work, while at the same time experimenting with new gastronomic threads that will give meaning to the future. For a couple of years now, Sergio has put his heart and soul into finding myriad ways to apply muria (fish brine) – the liquid that remains after anchovies have been salted – and which he uses not only to season food, but also to achieve surprising textures: these include small squid that come to the table and have only been brushed with a sauce made from their ink; or to cure egg yolks from which he makes the silkiest Hollandaise sauce you will ever try. He is brilliantly able to present dishes in the most elegant way without resorting to superfluous elements, but to which much thought has been applied, also using the most exquisite French haute cuisine that he deciphers in his own way. From that single sombre table, the entire dining room is now used to defend and give shape to Bastard’s extremely interesting cooking. He goes from table to table (in the refurbished room) so that he can personally engage with diners and thus adapt the menu to keep everyone happy, yet without taking the identity away from his food, which is what allows him to prance like a tightrope walker among extreme flavours that in his delicate hands never fail to surprise. In addition, these dishes highlight how he has evolved and confirm the boldness of someone who believes there are still things to invent, but this does not undermine what he has done until now… He is someone in search of new paths. In short, a bold person who defends his identity and creates gastronomic meaning. There are few like him. Clara P. Villalón.