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tony h

Martin Berasategui - 2003

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There is no innuendo intended in what I have said, I think I have been very clear. I have no prejudice in relation to this matter and I would be interested to understand what you mean by that.

A pretty obvious example:

"So you can provide us with some secondhand information coloured by whatever your relationship with MB is..."

If that ain't prejudice tainted with a dollop of innuendo, you tell me what this is....


Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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"So you can provide us with some secondhand information coloured by whatever your relationship with MB is..."

If that ain't prejudice tainted with a dollop of innuendo, you tell me what this is....

I read that as just "however you have interpreted (for whatever reasons) what someone else said."

:blink:

But I'm just wandering by.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I think the worst you could say about that quote is that it is slightly sarcastic in tone, which is not helpful I admit, but I would not accept it as an example of prejudice, or containng innuendo.

I am quite overtly stating that I think it is likely that your realtionship with Martin may affect your ability to be totally objective about this issue. I am more than happy to listen to any arguement which proves otherwise.

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I think the worst you could say about that quote is that it is slightly sarcastic in tone, which is not helpful I admit, but I would not accept it as an example of prejudice, or containng innuendo.

I am quite overtly stating that I think it is likely that your realtionship with Martin may affect your ability to be totally objective about this issue. I am more than happy to listen to any arguement which proves otherwise.

You have no idea at all of what my "relationship" with MB is or isn't, thus you are prejudging: that's prejudice. The innuendo, obviously, is that my view is twisted, or unfair, due to that "relationship".

What makes ginger chef's views more reliable? Couldn't they be tainted by his (evident) "relationship" with MB?

I have a first-hand source about what goes on in MB's kitchen, and it's certainly not MB himself, whom I've met on a few occasions professionally, as any other reporter would, but with whom I have not even spoken for a long time. I know my source by name, surname, cooking capacity and personal circumstances; I do not know anything about ginger chef - his identity, his culinary level, the circumstances of his stay at MB's. As even you might admit, there is little reason for me to trust gc's views more than my own source's.

Oh! Just to identify myself (I wouldn't want to be accused of posing as someone else or hiding behind an alias), my name is Victor de la Serna, I am deputy editor of a national daily newspaper in Madrid, El Mundo, the editor of the wine information web site, www.elmundovino.com, and a frequent writer (for many years) on food and wine for a bunch of publications in the world, most of them fairly reputable, including Decanter magazine in the UK. I'm also a vinegrower and wine producer, but I guess this is of little import as far as this thread is concerned.

What I'm not is a hearsay-monger, and I don't see where you're coming from to hurl that at me, frankly.


Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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I am a bit hesitant to throw my 2 cents into the pot here as it has become rather vicious, but I can honestly say that if Martin could see this or have it translated for him to Spanish I think he would have a good laugh, and say we were all a bit nuts. Having been at Martin for the past 3 months I can say that he is a friendly man publicly with an affable demeanor. He is especially so when it is with someone he feels can scratch his back a bit. In all fairness though, most people are the same way and this is not necessarily a criticism.

Martin and GC happen to have a very good rappor in the kitchen even with the lack of a common language and given certain favors I have done for Martin in English I happen to enjoy the same luxury of a good relationship with him. The thing is GC and I have both seen Martin do deplorable things in the kitchen, more personally than professionally, but terrible nevertheless. Perhaps these things speak more to his character as a man than as a chef but as they occur in the kitchen I cant imagine them not carrying over into the dining room a bit, be it through the food or the style of service which is being fostered.

I am not writing this to be disparraging of Martin but only to say that when people have said Martin has hard and terrible working conditions my experience has been that that happens more in the context of stages working with the sous chefs not with MArtin himself. Martin rarely yells and is never rude but he does allow and somewhat enjoy an environment of hostility and anger within his own kitchen. Personally I would be very afraid to work there if I was a Spanish guy or especially a South American guy who had nothing more to offer than my two hands and a lot of energy; but shouldnt that be enough or more than enough for an unpaid stage? There has to be a bit of return on Martins part, more than a letter saying one worked there.

The work itself is not all that hard as usually there is not enough work to go around. It all depends on the fluctuating number of stages at any given moment but no matter how busy we are or how many cooks we have around there is still never a lack of an air of hostility.

What was I expecting when I came to Martin? Nothing more than I have been given, a lot of hard work, a chance to see some interesting food, my spanish improving 10 fold, the oppurtunity to eat in a lot of these Michelin starred restaurants around Martin and thats about it. Am I disappointed as I take my leave for the UK? Certainly not but if someone asked me where I thought they should stage in Spain I would be the last person to recommend Martin. The living conditions are horrible and unsanitary, certainly not fit for humans. Also unfortunately what I would not call the kitchen at Martin is a learning environment.

Having worked with GC for the last few weeks I can honestly say that I think people have been a bit unfair to him here and taken his words a bit out of context. Martin knows he is a famous chef and behaves accordingly. GC is a funny, sarcastic guy and every word out of his mouth is not necessarily meant literally. Furthermore, anyone who has had the experience of spending time with the man professionally and not just dining as a client of his at his restaurant might not want to be so quick to criticise those who are actually spending almost every hour of every waking day with this man.

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Oh! Just to identify myself (I wouldn't want to be accused of posing as someone else or hiding behind an alias), my name is Victor de la Serna, I am deputy editor of a national daily newspaper in Madrid, El Mundo, the editor of the wine information web site, www.elmundovino.com, and a frequent writer (for many years) on food and wine for a bunch of publications in the world, most of them fairly reputable, including Decanter magazine in the UK. I'm also a vinegrower and wine producer, but I guess this is of little import as far as this thread is concerned.

What I'm not is a hearsay-monger, and I don't see where you're coming from to hurl that at me, frankly.

Why exactly do you find it necessary to offer your credentials so frequently, Victor? Numerous times in this thread alone, and in many others as well. If you're confident in your stance, and in your argument, there shouldn't be a need for this. This, I feel, is one of the primary factors contributing to why you've rubbed me the wrong way (and apparently others). Not to say that your credentials aren't valid; because they most certainly are, but I've heard them 36 times already.

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This is the first time ever I've identified myself on eGullet, if I remember properly. 36 times, huh?


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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I've been a professional journalist for 35 years. I don't go by hearsay, but by reliable sources - by reporting, in a word.

And that was in THIS very thread. Not to mention the famed white asparagus thread. Obviously I was exaggerating to prove my point. You obviously aren't even aware you do it, which is unfortunate, I suppose. Because to me, I feel it detracts from your character.

And before you ask, in the world of food, I mean nothing.

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...and frankly I don't really have any sort of picture of MB at the moment, there is far too little information about the man to draw any sort of conclusion

think harry potter, think dobby - think fat dobby with spanish accent & you're getting close


Edited by blind lemon higgins (log)

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And that was in THIS very thread.  Not to mention the famed white asparagus thread.

I'm talking about identifying myself, OK? I had never done it. Now you have it all in full living color, open to scorn or commiseration.

My character? Detracting from it? I couldn't care less. I'm totally immune to such considerations. I'm interested in making points and trying to back them up with data and reasoning. If it's grating to you, so be it. I believe I'm civil enough, and I believe in debating only those subjects that I know sufficiently well. The rest, I abstain from them. And I'm not here to pat backs or win popularity contests. That would be boring and besides the point.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Oh! Just to identify myself (I wouldn't want to be accused of posing as someone else or hiding behind an alias), my name is Victor de la Serna, I am deputy editor of a national daily newspaper in Madrid, El Mundo, the editor of the wine information web site, www.elmundovino.com, and a frequent writer (for many years) on food and wine for a bunch of publications in the world, most of them fairly reputable, including Decanter magazine in the UK. I'm also a vinegrower and wine producer, but I guess this is of little import as far as this thread is concerned.

What I'm not is a hearsay-monger, and I don't see where you're coming from to hurl that at me, frankly.

Why exactly do you find it necessary to offer your credentials so frequently, Victor? Numerous times in this thread alone, and in many others as well. If you're confident in your stance, and in your argument, there shouldn't be a need for this. This, I feel, is one of the primary factors contributing to why you've rubbed me the wrong way (and apparently others). Not to say that your credentials aren't valid; because they most certainly are, but I've heard them 36 times already.

I've been a professional journalist for 35 years. I don't go by hearsay, but by reliable sources - by reporting, in a word.

And that was in THIS very thread. Not to mention the famed white asparagus thread. Obviously I was exaggerating to prove my point. You obviously aren't even aware you do it, which is unfortunate, I suppose. Because to me, I feel it detracts from your character.

Exaggerating? You didn't produce the mole hill you claim is a mountain. There's a difference between being a journalist for 35 years and deputy editor of El Mundo, not to mention the other credentials. We allow anonymity for any number of reasons, but to criticize a member for indentifying himself, especially when his character and reputation are at stake, is just absurd.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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to criticize a member for indentifying himself, especially when his character and reputation are at stake

Hm.

I really don't think anyone's character or reputation are at stake here. Not Victor's or Andy's or Martin Berasategui's or gingerchef's.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I'd like to thank everyone for sharing their views in such an open and honest manner, but in order that that this thread does not to degenerate further, its time for us to accept that the arguments have been made and are there for the record, agree to disagree and move on.

In order to take something positive from all of this, I've started a general thread on the subject of working conditions in kitchens here which you may wish to contribute to.

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I have to note that we just left Martin Berasategui a few hours ago after a spectacular lunch that pleased us no end. I also have to note that much of the tasting menu was in line with the one described at the beginning of this thread. We loved every dish, although our appetites flagged towards the end. I won't say every dish was better than every other dish we've had since arriving in Donostia, but overall, this was the best meal. I suppose I'll have to get around to posting more about it, but I realy felt I needed to say this. Martin is a real three star chef in his prime. Of that, there is no question in my mind. It was engaging food and served by an engaging staff who were most attentive and responsive to our questions. There's no accounting for individual taste, but I just don't understand why anyone wouldn't recognize the talent in this restaurant. I suppose that's what makes horse races.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux, we all knew Martin's food is excellent. We were just tryint to add some suspense to your visit there. :wink:

PS: Which restaurants have you visited so far?


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Which restaurants have you visited so far?

Akelarre, Martin, Arzak and Mugaritz. All fine meals. Of course we have our favorites and our complaints, but still all were worth our time and money and all were both enjoyable and interesting. This is it for this trip to Donostia. We also visited Echaurren in Escaray which we enjoyed very much. Outside of tapas and snacks, we I think we only had two unplanned lunches. One was cheap and dreadful--a mistake, but for the sake of domestic relations, I won't dwell on that choice. The other one was quite interesting with roast baby pig and an unusual first course of morcilla and pear lasagne with a roquefort cheese sauce. The one comment I might make at this point is that perhaps the main meat and fish courses on the tasting menus were often not quite up to the appetizers and seafood dishes, but even that's relative to many things and especially to one's expectations and interests. Sometimes one has to reconsider a meal afterwards to understand one's own subjectivity.

Neither foam nor caramel was absent from the table, but neither was so very much in evidence. There are trends and there are certain ingredients and techniques that appear in more than one restaurant, but what I sense is a lot of individuality, that's just not well reported in the American press covering Spanish food. Subijana proved to be the most accessible chef to us this trip and this was part of what we discussed as the conversation drifted to food in other parts of Spain. His eyes lit up when we mentioned De La Osa from Las Rejas. I'm not sure if he really liked his food or if he was just pleased to see Americans so familiar with Spanish food outside the Catalunya-Pais Vasco axis.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux, the Spanish Academy of Gastronomy, which does the ratings for the Campsa travel guide (Spain's largest selling one), has just elevated (for the 2004 edition) Manolo de la Osa's Las Rejas to its top category of three 'suns', where he joins the likes of Arzak or El Bulli. Michelin, on its part, keeps him with just one star.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Bux, the Spanish Academy of Gastronomy, which does the ratings for the Campsa travel guide (Spain's largest selling one), has just elevated (for the 2004 edition) Manolo de la Osa's Las Rejas to its top category of three 'suns', where he joins the likes of Arzak or El Bulli. Michelin, on its part, keeps him with just one star.

I've responded to the news about Las Rejas in the thread I had started on Las Rejas, but I think it's worth noting, just to stay on topic, that Martin also has three sols and three Michelin stars.


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux, in the interest of full disclosure, would you tell us (or tell us again since you may have previously done so) the prior relationship between Berasategui and your family and if you think it influenced your opinion or resulted in some kind of special treatment, or the staff being told to pay special attention. For me, I would have to return to Berasategui to reconsider that maybe I missed something. I still maintain that the fact that I and Blind Lemon Higgins had near-irdentical problems and reactions is tough to ignore. Thirty minutes of waiting is a half-hour wait regardless of how you slice it. Maladroit and unattentive service is what it is. Opinions about the quality of food is a matter of taste, maybe even the luck of the draw. Regardless, the four of us had something much less than what should be the experience of a Michelin three-star restaurant.

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My son-in-law and daughter were the first people I knew who ate at Berasategui. They, or at least my son-in-law, had met him at Daniel when Martin visited NY. I was not with them when they ate there and thus don't know how it may have affected what they ate, but I thought they had the standard tasting menu. I know they got some special treatment, because Martin felt indebted for the way he was treated in NY. When we first visited, a year or two later, we intended to mention their visit, but Martin was not in the restaurant. We were therefore just first time customers. Lunch then, on the terrace was wonderful, but less impressive than on this recent visit. I thought service was a bit cold.

My daughter had also visited Arzak. I preferred Arzak on the first visit to each restaurant. She was far more impressed with Berasategui. After our second visit I share her opinion. As I didn't share that opinion when she first expressed it, I doubt it played a role in our opinions. By the way, Esilda was wowed more than I was the first time we ate at Berasategui. It took me a second visit to appreciate his food. I believe it was also because his cooking matured. Anyway, when reserving for our second visit, I asked my daughter if she thought he would remember them and she said, probably not. My son-in-law has, in the past, been quick to make calls for me, if he, or someone he knows, thought they could get VIP treatment for me. No offer was made regarding Berasategui. As far as I know, the restaurant may not have been aware this was our second visit. It was three and a half years ago that we last ate there and longer ago that our daughter was there. The only advantage we had was that Esilda speaks Spanish, but that was an advantage most of the diners had.

I believe it was Michel Roux who was holding court at a large table in a room behind a planter. He was gone well before our meal was complete and I doubt he noticed anything about our service nor that Martin cared to impress Roux with my service or food. Earlier, I worried that my service might suffer and that he would get all the attention.

I suspect any differences experienced were a matter of luck and perception. We had lunch both times and the view out the windows, or over the terrace were certainly a lovely addition, but overall, I found the dining room pleasant enough. How it might appear at night under artificial lighting is something I can't say. I also believe this might not be the only room. The room was very green. I might not have chosen that color, but it's a very Basque color. As for waiting, I seem to recall that we found lunch at Berasategui very well paced. Far better than at other places where we felt rushed. With the exception of feeling rushed in some other places, I can't fault most of the service we had in and around Donostia, and the service at Berasategui was among the best. Our wine was kept across the room and well out of our reach, so it was important that our glasses were properly refilled and they were, although I suspect we may not have finished our water. Esilda objected to the affected coffee cups. They bothered me far less than affectations at Michel Bras for one. I found the cups amusing and had no sympathy for her position, but I believe that was her sole complaint.

She was quick to pronounce the food "finer" than at Las Rejas, though not necessarily better. For me this was the one meal that best challenged Las Rejas. By Michelin standards, as I understand them, this was a better meal than at Las Rejas. There was a greater visual appeal to the dishes and general ambiance is finer.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I had lunch again at Martin Berasategui just a week after Bux did and found it to be one of the greatest (perhaps the very best) meals of a trip that included lunches or dinners at Mas de Torrent***, Can Roca****, El Bulli, Sant Pau (Carme Ruscalleda ****), Hotel Empordá*, Carles Abellán****, Ca Sento**** in Valencia, Tragabuches** in Ronda, Mugaritz****, Arzak****, and Fagollaga* (the four stars mean particularly memorable meals; El Bulli is El Bulli is El Bulli). Along the way, there were wonderful traditional meals at Alba in Barcelona; at Casa Pepico outside Valencia; at the bar at Nou Manolín (bar only recommended) in Alicante, at Elias (for arroz cooked over grape vine cuttings) in Xinolet (Alicante); at Casa Bigote and in the manzanilla bodega at Vinicola Hidalgo in Sanlúcar de Barrameda; at Barbiana in Sevilla; at the stupendous Mesón-Taberna Juan Peña in Córdoba; great regional food (vino. too) at Bodegas Muga in La Rioja; good food and superb wines at Rekondo (one of the world's great wine list); superb seafood and the greatest turbot at Kaia (Getaria); and in Riaza (Segovia), an hour north of Madrid, at Marcelo, I had incredible mushrooms, judiones and chuletillas de cordero to finish up. An incredible trip like no other and the food at Martin Berasategui was at the very top (well Juan Peña's wife Mari Carmen's salmorejo was the dish of the trip). In addition, my experiences at Manuel de la Osa earlier in the year and the commentaries from other Spanish foodies bear out Bux's experiences as well. San Celoni, Santi Santamaria's new place in Madrid, was superb as well. There is some phenomenal cooking going on in Spain, traditional as well as modern. Some chefs don't live up to the hype, but the best, like Martin can cook with anyone in the world.


Edited by Gerry Dawes (log)

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Glad to hear your opinion on Berasategui. Thanks also for that list. I know some of the places from experience and a few from second hand reports. I don't know Barbiana in Sevilla or the Mesón-Taberna Juan Peña in Córdoba and neither pops up in the Guia Roja or Campsa. Are these the names of the chefs, or are they restaurants out of town in the provinces?


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux, I'm guessing here, but I assume the places you're referring to in Gerry's post are closer to the tapas bars in Donostia than to a more "formal" restaurant. That's why they don't usually appear in the guides you mention.

As you have experienced in first person, there's a whole world outside those guides that's worth exploring. Casa Juanito, in Jerez, comes to my mind (ok, this appears in the Guía Campsa, but without any sun) as a place to have superb tapas.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Of course there are places that never make the guides for one reason or another. Michelin includes tapas bars in their listings, but in Donostia, it's a very small list and hardly representative of the riches available. It will serve a visitor well enough if he, or she, wants a snack, but it's not a guide for good bar crawl.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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