Raúl Resino: “My restaurant allowed me to forge and believe in my own identity.”
A Repsol-Sonne, a Michelin Star, Winner of The 2016 Chef of the Year competition: Raúl Resino definitely does not lack the awards to prove his value as a Chef. Born in Madrid and raised in Valencia, he has been running his own restaurant in Benicarló (Raúl Resino *) since 2014. His secret recipe for success? Hard work, be humble and keep yourself grounded.
How was the Summer? Do you notice a difference with the High Season?
Well, honestly, August is usually a really hard month. Everyone is normally outside in the summer. We work together with people from the region and also from abroad throughout the year, from Valencia and beyond. Normally, the Summer brings a lot of tourists, French, Dutch, Belgian…
Let us segway to a time where you started as a dishwasher in a restaurant. What makes a young man think “This is my thing, I totally want to do this”?
I was 15 years-old, and didn’t want to study. Even though my father wanted me to begin higher education I preferred to work. I wanted to work and be successful at it for my future, and in this moment I had to learn a trade. So, my father talked to me about the restaurant industry. Since I was little I helped my mother in the kitchen with the easy tasks so she could keep an eye on me. The first time I stepped into a professional kitchen was as a dishwasher in a very modest restaurant with a daily menu and sandwiches. When I saw the pace, the adrenaline that was released, I decided that this was what I wanted.
Where were you trained?
I’ve worked in various restaurants and hotels of all sorts. From 1998 I began to work in higher calibur restaurants. I knew by that time what the Michelin Guide was all about. I had worked in Luxury Hotels such as El Celler de Can Roca (***), bis Soule (*) und bei Martin Berasategui (***). I was also in Tokyo and had an opportunity to experience everything there.
In 2014 began the big adventure with your own restaurant (Raúl Resino *). At the start the area didn’t impress you much…
I opened in October 2013 and it was not because it was the ugliest place in Benicarló, the ugliest part of the city, it was because it was a garage. We started off with crappy lighting and plastic patio furniture. However, I was happy, because I had my own restaurant. We have changed the place up since then, but yea, it could not have been uglier.
When you think back to the beginnings of your restaurant, what do you remember most?
I remember feeling so lucky to have a big “ship”. Previously I had worked for over 10 years as a Head Chef but always had to follow orders. My restaurant allowed me to forge and believe in my own identity and work like that to this day.
The Menu you offer comes from the nearby ocean and orchards.
We offer mostly fish and shellfish because we are so close to the ocean. We also work with inland-products, mushrooms and truffles. Above all, it’s all about the fish, shellfish and local produce.
How did you go about developing this Menu concept?
The first few months you could see some meat on the menu but not much. We started immediately with tasting courses and kept on that line.
You have a Michelin Star. Are you taking more risks now?
No, no. We already took risks before the Star, not because of it. The Star is not a priority here. My goal was always to have my own restaurant and step-by-step accomplish new goals. Customers make it possible to take risks, meaning, the more customers you have, the more risks you can take, and time slowly but surely shapes your identity as you go along.
You have a dish called the “Sea Potato”. Could you tell us a bit about that?
Of course! The Sea Potato is an Echinoderm, which filters its diet. It is not found everywhere on the Valencian coast so we only offer it for a couple of weeks on the menu. We also work with other products that are associated with “poor”, for example, “Grett de Mar” or the “Juliola” which its many thorns are used for a broth.
How are your relationships to your purveyors?
I have a very close relationship. For example I’ll join the fishermen and sailors at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning for a days work, and with the agricultural side I am also close.
In 2016 you won the Chef of the Year competition, a few months later you received a Michelin Star. The Repsol Guide 2018 bestowed the first Sun. You make it look so easy, all you have achieved in a few years looking from the outside.
Well, It’s definitely not that. It’s years of work, and it won’t happen overnight. It takes sacrifice, work, sweat and blood. There is a long trajectory history behind everything that has got me here, and it would be wrong if people thought it was so easy. What happens is people see just the end results, when in reality those results are cumulative over the whole sacrifice of a long, hard, career.
Thank you very much, Raúl!