Dani García Wins Spain’s National Gastronomy Prize

25 Feb 2009 [16:20h]     Bookmark and Share

Spain’s prestigious Royal Academy of Gastronomy has awarded Dani García the Best Chef award for 2008. / Dani received the news at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in Miami, where he was participating in a celebratory dinner „¡Viva España! The Wines and Foods of Spain”, attended by King and Queen of Spain, Juan Carlos and Doña Sofía.

Miami, Florida – Sol Meliá is proud to announce that Dani García has been awarded the National Gastronomy Prize, which is given out each year by Spain’s Royal Academy of Gastronomy. Dani was given the news by Rafael Ansón, president of the Academy, who phoned him in Miami, where Dani was preparing a course at a dinner that forms part of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. At the dinner Dani served his renowned cherry gazpacho for guests of honor the King and Queen of Spain.

The Best Chef award given by Spain’s highest gastronomic authority is in recognition of not only Dani’s achievements in 2008 but also the entire career to date of this young Andalusian chef.

On hearing the news Dani said, „It is a great honor to receive the National Gastronomy Prize. It’s something every chef hopes to obtain. It comes in recognition of the hard work and huge enthusiasm that not only I but also my team put in each day.“

Dani first began working for the Gran Meliá hotel brand in 2005, when he was given the reins of the Calima restaurant at the Gran Meliá Don Pepe hotel in Marbella. In July of last year he opened the restaurant of the same name in the Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora hotel, located on the Canary Island of Tenerife. And on February 28 he will embark on his newest project, the opening of El Burladero, Tapas & Tintos by Dani García at the Gran Meliá Colón Hotel in Seville.

Sebastián Escarrer, co-vice-chairman of Sol Meliá Hotel & Resorts said, „For us it is a great pleasure to be able to count on Dani García as one more member of the Sol Meliá family. It makes us especially proud to see a chef of Dani’s caliber, who has grown in stature with us over the last few years, receive this wonderful recognition, which he thoroughly deserves.“

Dani García began studying as a chef at the age of 18 at the Málaga catering school La Cónsula, completing his apprenticeship under Martín Berasátegui in Lasarte, in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa.

This young Andalusian has blazed his name on the roll of Spain’s greatest chefs. Dani now has two Michelin stars to his credit. The first he gained at the tender age of 24 when he was Head Chef at Tragabuches in Ronda, Málaga. The second came in 2007, when he led the kitchen at Calima, in the Gran Meliá Don Pepe.

The first National Gastronomy Prize was given out in 1974 by the Royal Gastronomy Academy and the Cofradía de la Buena Mesa. Previous winners include such famous names as Juan Mari Arzak, Pedro Subijana, Ferrán Adriá and Santi Santamaría.

Cherry gazpacho for Their Majesties

At the celebratory dinner held on February 19 at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, titled „Viva España! The Wines and Foods of Spain“, Dani prepared a starter of cherry gazpacho, served with a sprinkle of cheese, anchovies and pistachios. The dinner, attended by the Spanish monarchs King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía, will be served by other Spanish master chefs Pedro Subijana, José Andrés and Paco Torreblanca.

Dani García chose his cherry gazpacho, one of the highlights of his repertoire, to freshen diners’ palates before the main event. It was a liquid salad based on ripe tomatoes, cherries and basil, topped off with a crystalline down of fresh cheese.

„It is a challenge to prepare my food outside of Spain and also an ideal opportunity to show what we are able to accomplish outside of our comfort zone. It’s also always a great opportunity to learn from others wherever you go. In the States I’m a keen fan of Nobu with his westernized vision of Asian food and his techniques for seasoning; of Willy Dufresne in New York; Grant Achatz in Chicago and Ken Oringer in Boston, to name but a few“, said Dani.

While in Miami Dani also gave his views on cuisine at a seminar that was held during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

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