Alinea Conquers Spain (Or at least Spain’s Top Food Critic)

After reading a recent editorial by the famed Spanish food critic Rafael García Santos on the twilight of the Spanish Culinary Vanguard, I decided to browse his restaurant guide, Lo mejor de la gastronomía, to see who still makes the cut.

Like most readers of lists, I sought out the parts most pertinent to me, namely the few and far between American selections.   Therein I found Thomas Keller—Per Se, not the French Laundry—was up pretty high, a step above Pierre Gagnaire in fact, with an 8.5 on a 10 point scale.  Wylie Dufresne’s WD~50 also had a solid finish finish at 8.0.

Most notable however was Grant Achatz’s Alinea at number 2, with a stunning 9.5. He was, in fact, but one spot behind Ferrán Adrià’s El Bulli.  The answer to the question of what Adrià will come up with next may come not from his devotees in Spain but those working abroad.

If some argue that Argentina is a European country located by a quirk of God in South America, then Achatz is making a convincing case that Chicago is a small Northern Spanish town located by a quirk of God in Illinois.

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4 Responses to “Alinea Conquers Spain (Or at least Spain’s Top Food Critic)”

  1. tigerdog Says:

    While the LMG guide is purportedly global–it’s available in numerous languages as the above links show–its focus lies squarely with restaurants inspired by and consistent with the culinary values of Arzak, Adrià, Berasetegui, namely, the great chefs of northern Spain. Sure, some French and English and even Italian chefs make the list, but they only do so if they’re working within the Vanguard idiom.

    It’s a movement that’s generated tremendous culinary tourism for Spain and business for its name chefs. Thanks largely to García Santos’s efforts, as well as a Sunday New York Times magazine cover story and an earlier Wine Spectator restaurant roundup which largely scooped it, people from all over the States now make pilgrimages to San Sebastián, Bilbao and Barcelona, among other cities.

    One American chef to add to the list is another Chicagoan, Homaro Cantu of Moto. He hasn’t generated as much press as Achatz, but he’s worth mentioning in the same breath.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I love how theoretical the Spanish critics get when talking about food. They really have generated their own literature of theoretical texts for talking about it.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Viva Espana y Wylie Dog!

  4. Mary M. Says:

    I wonder how much of their material comes from the French critics, who have a long tradition of lengthy treatises on food, and everything else.

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