It is fantastic to see that, on the European gastronomic map, Spain ranks only behind France, Italy and Germany. Worldwide, we only have to add Japan to the list. This makes us appreciate our gastronomy all the more and, needless to say, encourages restaurateurs and chefs to improve the quality of their products and services.

For me, the three essential points are:

The IMAGE of the establishment. By that, I refer to the fact that the restaurant ought to have a business image which fits its name, i.e., a structured logo that gives personality to the style of cooking, to the establishment and even to its dishes. I like to see those restaurants where they take great pains to create a warm, sober decor, clean places where they take care of the tiniest detail, the cutlery, the dinner service, tablecloths, serviettes, and even the plant standing in the corner and the flowers.

The second point is AMIABILITY. A restaurant is nothing without a competent, amiable staff. This is of the essence in any restaurant aspiring to a Michelin star: the staff in the establishment must have all-round public relations skills, I value their politeness, courtesy, kindness and knowing how to treat the customer. I like to see the waiters and the maître d’ going about their work in a courteous manner. It is essential for the owner or restaurateur to stress to their staff how important it is to treat guests amiably and it is vital for the entrepreneur or restaurateur to treat his or her workers and suppliers well.

As a third point, the DELICACY to be enjoyed. An exquisite meal should bring new sensations to the palate and if the chef and his or her team fail to achieve this, then he or she is not inspired or must have a headache. It is no use for the dishes we are about to eat to be dull or lacking in inspiration. They should have a special effect on the guest and not be copies or imitations of food in other restaurants. They should have an identity of their own. I like to see food which is exquisitely decorated and, quite simply, has a taste which is satisfying to my palate. Of course I also include here the good taste of the wine steward in the selection of the restaurant’s wine list: without a good wine, any culinary experience would be incomplete.

To conclude, I would add this sentence, which expresses my own feelings. Sitting down to eat is more than an act, it is an art: one chooses the company, then the setting and, finally, the delicacy and wine to be enjoyed.

Alex Gutiérrez

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