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forced many to close for good. Albert Adriá, one of the city’s most well-known chefs, has closed his entire group of restaurants. “The city has suffered such heavy losses it could take it a decade to get back on its feet,” says Mateo. In Madrid, meanwhile,


restrictions were less punishing for hospitality and bars and restaurants remained open for much of the pandemic.


Boom time


In the 1980s Madrid was still considered a center for regional restaurants with the main foreign influence being French. Things started to slowly change in the 1990s although the age of the celebrity chef was a long way off in the future; people were more likely to know the restaurateurs behind the operation than the chef. It was the late 1990s and the 2000s that would bring major change to the city. The years before the 2008 financial crash were a time of economic prosperity in the city’s culinary landscape as Madrid started to take on a more international profile. “In the 1990s you would never have found a papaya or coriander in Madrid,” says Mateo. International immigration changed that as new arrivals began importing different ingredients. “Obviously, this mix of people brings gastronomic wealth and today you can find any foods you want in Madrid, from Latin America and from Asia," she adds. "The second largest community in Madrid is the Chinese.”


The mid-to late 2000s also 86


“This mix of people brings gastronomic wealth and today you can find any foods you want in Madrid, from Latin America and from Asia”


saw a new type of restaurant opening in Madrid. Chef Ricardo Sanz was an early precursor to what would later characterize the city’s restaurant scene when he opened Kabuki in 2000. His was the first genuine fusion restaurant of any recognition, serving Japanese food with a Spanish twist, and would later become the first restaurant in the city serving foreign food to receive a Michelin star. Later, in 2007 a young chef,


David Muñoz, returned home after a stint cooking in London; he went on to open DiverXO in the capital; introducing his singular take on fusion cooking to great acclaim. Muñoz was awarded three stars by the Michelin guide in 2013 and remains the only restaurant in


Madrid to hold the status. “So, we started to see ingredients from all over the world and we started to see fusion cooking,” says Mateo. “It was the beginning of this time of cooking without rules.” Other pioneers of the


Madrid restaurant scene are Alberto Chicote who opened NoDo restaurant, rejecting any kind of label or rule, and Sergi Arola who had waiters wearing skirts and Doc Martin boots at La Broche. Dario Barrio, another young chef of the time, created a hip hangout for the young and beautiful in Dassa Bassa. Meanwhile in Barcelona around the same time El Bulli was going through its prime moment and Ferrán Adriá sought out many influences from overseas.


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