Tribute to a great chef in the country, by Carme Ruscalleda

The Catalan Academy of Gastronomy and Nutrition, this Wednesday, November 24, in the Oval Room of the MNAC, will pay a great tribute to the figure of the chef Santi Santamaria, a capital Catalan character in the modern history of international gastronomy.

Santi Santamaria’s legacy goes far beyond the professional stamp of a talented chef, he was accompanied by a working capacity out of the ordinary, he also practiced writing, pictorial art and reading. I met the character at the beginning of his professional career, long before I felt myself the force that pushes entrepreneurs to create their own restaurant.

Santi Santamaria was a man with a passionate excess towards gastronomy, capable of creating a personal, delicate and ‘gourmet’ aura in the old family farmhouse, space occupied by the Can Fabes restaurant. I am sure that the walls of the house and the mountain of Montseny felt daily as a renewed energy, which translated into courage and inspiration.

Santi Santamaria, like a good number of chefs with their own name in the gastronomy of the world, has had the unconditional complicity of his wife, Àngels Serra. She joined body and soul in dedicating the best of her life to Can Fabes. He reconciled “the irreconcilable & rdquor ;, running a young family with two children and caring for paternal grandparents. She was, until the last day of the restaurant, the friendly face that received and led the room. Àngels followed and accompanied at all the tables in the world that the chef wanted to discover. Let no one think that Santi was only interested in tables awarded with Michelin stars, a long list of traditional establishments was also known, and not only in our country.

The gastronomic work of Can Fabes, from the municipality of Sant Celoni, motivated many restaurants here to practice a quality aesthetics In the tableware, also a careful staging, and very professional kitchen and living room equipment. It also inspired us to invest in beautiful and modern culinary equipment facilities, open and open to visitors, and to offer the public a wine cellar well stocked with world wines. It was very creative With highly edited and artistic menus, and with a culinary offer inspired by Catalan and French culture, capable of turning it into a discourse on Montseny and the Mediterranean that it exported to Madrid and Singapore. He valued mushrooms that the market considered were not commercial, also fish little used in gastronomy and he did the same with wild or cultivated vegetables. In their letter they shared attractive seasonal and wild originalities with the largest and most precious ‘gourmet’ products.

In the 80s, the restoration of our country launched a very remarkable path that has presented us to the world, Santi Santamaria was one of the stars, who marked us a professional path that has not stopped evolving and find new business formulas, now that the world continues to suffer the ravages of the terrible pandemic.

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It was Santi Santamaria the dynamizer of a controversy that made rivers of ink flow, and not only in our country. The history of humanity is full of controversial characters from other artistic fields, musicians, painters, sculptors, architects, public confrontations that have defended with personal ethics passion. I want to make a positive reading of all this, if it has been able to serve for society in general, professionals and consumers, to reflect deeply, on everything that surrounds the world of cooking.

Santi Santamaria was a leader so important that perhaps not even he realized his capabilities, his potential and the many followers of his philosophy. We are left with the heritage of his passion for the product and for the producers, for the goal of the restaurant world to make the diner happy, from the local values ​​to the Catalan culinary culture, and the unbridled love for the powerful landscape of Montseny, lived as an inspiring vein of the seductive gastronomic script, of a great chef of the country.

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