8 Nov, 2022 @ 14:15
7 mins read

Top of the Chefs: The 20 chart-topping Spaniards making it on to the world’s Top 100 chefs list

Photocall For The Best Chef' Awards Ceremony In Madrid, Spain 20 Sept 2022
David Muñoz Rosillo, also known as Dabiz Muñoz seen during a photocall prior to the international awards ceremony 'The Best Chef' at the Palacio de Cibeles. (Photo by Atilano Garcia / SOPA Images/Sipa USA) *** Local Caption *** 41633817

SPANISH cuisine is up there with the best in the world and is starting to dominate the charts. Madrid has just hosted a global gathering for the 100 Best Chefs Award, and no less than 20 Spaniards across 16 restaurants got a listing, compared to just 10 in France.

From Dabiz Muñoz – this year’s winner for the second year running – to two-times chart topper Joan Roca in third, every one of these culinary maestros has their own unique take on gastronomy. 

Like true artists, their edible masterpieces are never conventional and always have the power to enthrall. And the best thing about it; there are many new entries and they are spread right across the country from Cadiz to Valencia and Marbella to Cordoba.

Here’s the full rundown of Spain’s best and how they match up to last year’s charts.

My food’s like a gunshot to the head! 

#1 Still  #1  for the second year running  

Dabiz Muñoz

DiverXO Madrid

Photocall For The Best Chef' Awards Ceremony In Madrid, Spain 20 Sept 2022
Dabiz Muñoz. Photo by Atilano Garcia / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Cordon Press

Chef Dabiz Muñoz has built a reputation as a pioneering and creative adventurer. Still only in his 30s, he continually surprises with his unique approach to cooking, describing his food to the Olive Press as being ‘like a gunshot to the head’. 

DiverXO specialises in fusion cuisine combining different culinary traditions to produce an experimental menu that’s as unconventional as it is sophisticated. Born in Madrid, he is internationally recognised for his cooking and fabulous restaurants. He currently has three Michelin stars. 

In the week he scooped his third coveted star in 2013, he told the Olive Press: “This is an honour for all Spanish chefs and for Spanish cuisine in general.” 

Highly complimentary (surprisingly going on this chart) of the British food scene, he credited London for helping to shape his career, having worked at restaurants in the capital including Nobu and Hakkassan for six years. “I am mad about London and have a lot of friends there. The food scene is so vibrant, way above Paris. There are so many influences from Asia, the Americas, everywhere.”

Posing with his trademark porcelain pig, he concluded: “The philosophy for the restaurant is like my philosophy on life. I call it total cooking. You need an open mind. It is almost pornographic, completely natural and laid out bare. It’s like a rollercoaster ride and I want the taste to be like a gunshot to the head.”

Olive Press editor Jon Clarke reviewed DiverXo the following year, describing it as the ‘best meal’ he had eaten in Spain. That stands today. “The simple explosion of flavours, the pure joy of what has been produced, the enthusiasm of the staff… we laughed through the entire meal,” he recalls this week.

“I ended my review saying, his creativity and influence on Spanish cuisine would ‘keep Spain a head and shoulders above the French for the next decade’. And that has certainly come to pass. The way things are going it may be two or three decades.”

#3 Up 1 from # 4

Joan Roca

El Celler de Can Roca, Girona

Joan Roca Cordon Press 2
Joan Roca Photo: Cordon Press

Joan has yet again taken the plaudits, but his restaurant is a family affair. There’s Joan, the architect of taste; Jordi, the sweet anarchist; and Josep, the magic ingredient: three brothers, inspired heavily by their mother’s cooking, their repertoire stirred by childhood memories and created with love and generosity for their customers. Opened in 1986, it has three Michelin stars. The food is simple but creative, old yet new – lamb with bread and tomato, St George’s mushrooms with avocado and cava made at the restaurant.

#5 Down 2 from #3

Andoni Luis Aduriz

Mugaritz, Renteria

17th Edition San Sebastian Gastronomika
Andoni Luis Aduriz. Photo: Cordon Press

Andoni Luis Aduriz has stayed near the top again for his revolutionary restaurant in the Basque region. Always thinking ahead and constantly questioning the logic of global cuisine, this self-confessed kitchen rebel takes an unapologetic approach to cooking.A genuine maverick, the UK’s Restaurant Magazine has had him in its Top 10 for the last decade. Oddly, in the Best Chefs list he has fluctuated up and down from 30th to 70th between 2017 to 2020, before making No3 last year.

#7 Down 1 from #6

Oriol Castro, Mateu Casanas, Eduard Xatruch

Disfrutar, Barcelona

Disfruta Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch Y Mateu Casañas Shared Picture Courtesy Disfruta
Oriol Castro, Mateu Casanas, Eduard Xatruch. Photo: Shared by Disfrutar

Slightly confusingly, the ‘chef’ in seventh spot is actually three people from Disfrutar restaurant.

The history and legacy of the Mediterranean is a running theme at this trendy city restaurant, set up by three trainees originally from Ferran Adria’s legendary El Bulli, just up the coast. Influenced by fishing village fare, the menu transports your mind from old to new and metropolis to farm terrace. Their aim? To amaze, stimulate and create through gastronomy.  

#13 Big climber, Up 35 places from #48

Angel Leon

Aponiente, El Puerto de Santa María

Spanien, Cadiz
Angel Leon. Photo: Cordon Press

Known across Spain as ‘el Chef del Mar’, Angel Leon is noted for his experimental seafood. In 2017, Aponiente earned its third Michelin star (the first and second were won in 2010 and 2014), making it Andalucia’s first-ever three-Michelin-starred restaurant.

He is currently engaged with a project to explore the culinary uses of seagrass.

#18 Breaking into the Top 20 – Up 13 from #31

Eneko Atxa 

Azurmendi, Bilbao

Madrid Fusion Day 2
Eneko Atxa . Photo: © Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press/Cordon press

Atxa is a leading player in Modern Basque Cuisine. Azurmendi takes you on a culinary journey from the rooftop vegetable garden to an indoor greenhouse. An eco-friendly establishment, Azurmendi uses environmentally-friendly materials and recycles its own waste. For this, Eneko won The Sustainable Restaurant Award in 2014. Far from a conventional restaurant, the truffled egg is cooked inside out and edible cotton can be tasted in the indoor greenhouse. Azurmendi boasts three Michelin stars.

#19 Spain’s highest new entry…

Victor Arguinzoniz

Asador Etxebarri, Axpe, Bizkaia

Victor Arguinzoniz
Victor Arguinzoniz Photo WordRidden via Flickr CC

Arguinzoniz’s groundbreaking Basque Country restaurant uses local firewood to create a unique grill cooking process using local, natural products. Overseen by Victor Arguinzoniz who even char-grills his desserts, his signature chorizo tartare and tomahawk steak don’t come cheap at €242 as part of the set menu. But many a foodie still make a pilgrimage here from around the world.

#33 Making a move… Up 24 places from #57

Quique Dacosta

Quique Dacosta, Denia, Valencia

Quique Dacosta Landscape
Quique Dacosta. Photo: Jesus Signes Cordon Press

Dacosta is one of the leaders in modern avant-garde cuisine, a keen supporter of the Slow Food Movement, and uses only products sourced locally. While he has his own three Michelin star joint in Denia, he also has two stars in nearby El Poblet and has a star as director and culinary creator of the amazing Deessa restaurant at Madrid’s Mandarin Oriental Ritz. It received its first Michelin star just seven months after its opening.

#36 Up 9 places from #45

Paco Roncero

Paco Roncero Restaurant, Madrid

Photocall De La Gala De Entrega De Los Premios Internacionales "the Best Chef" En El Palacio De Cibeles De Madrid
Paco Roncero . Photo: Antonio Quilez/Cordon Press

Paco Roncero  is the head chef of his same name restaurant in central Madrid, where he has two Michelin stars. He is also credited with developing ‘molecular cuisine’ and has the most expensive restaurant in the world, Sublimotion in Ibiza. It is known for its unique dining experience and extreme cost with an average price, per head, of slightly over €1,900.

#38 This year’s biggest climber Up 51 places from #89

Diego Guerrero

DSTage, Madrid

Photocall De La Gala De Entrega De Los Premios Internacionales "the Best Chef" En El Palacio De Cibeles De Madrid
Diego Guerrero: Photo: Antonio Quilez/Cordon Press

This restaurant has an urban and industrial look and a relaxed feel that reflects the personality of the chef. The name is an acronym of his core philosophy: ‘Days to Smell, Taste, Amaze, Grow & Enjoy’. Guerrero brings disparate cultures, ingredients and flavours together from Spain, Mexico and Japan to such effect that he has two Michelin stars.

#41 Straight in at #41 New Entry

Javier & Sergio Torres

Cocina Hermanos Torres, Barcelona

Sergio Y Javier Torres En Su Cocina Wikipedia
Sergio and Javier Torres. Photo CC Wikipedia

Twin brothers Javier and Sergio Torres started in the world of cuisine when they were 14 years old. After having separate careers and working in renowned restaurants all over the world, they met again in 2002 to start new projects together. Their restaurant, Cocina Hermanos Torres, has two Michelin stars.

#42 on the way down. Down 14 places from #28

Martin Berasategui

Restaurante Martin Berasategui, Loidi Kalea

17th Edition San Sebastian Gastronomika
Martin Berasatagui. Photo: Cordon Press

One of the grandfather’s of modern Spanish cooking, Martin Berasategui oversees his Basque Country restaurant and is one of the most decorated chefs in the country, with eight Michelin Stars to his name. His restaurant offers edgy a la carte and tasting menus and has an impressive wine cellar to match.

#43 Up 11 places from #54

Paco Morales

Noor, Cordoba

17th Edition San Sebastian Gastronomika
Paco Morales. Photo: Cordon Press

Morales opened Noor with the aim of putting Andalucian gastronomy on the map. In just over three years he had done just that by gaining two Michelin stars. His capacity for innovation and his personality have allowed him to bring the aromas and flavours of the old Al-Andalus to a modern audience. He has recreated ancient recipes and techniques in a contemporary and avant-garde way.

#56 Making a return to the charts

Dani Garcia

Tragabuches, Marbella

Dani Garcia Cordon Press
Dani Garcia. Photo: Cordon Press

Garcia began his career with Martin Berasategui, with whom he says he shares ‘his DNA as a chef’. He won his first Michelin star at the age of 25 at Tragabuches in Ronda. He left and eventually earned three stars at his own name restaurant in Marbella, but handed them back just weeks after winning the final star. He has since opened nearly a dozen other restaurants, many of them Bibos, around Spain and abroad and even made money creating his own unique McDonald’s hamburger. However, he has now returned to his roots by opening a Tragabuches in his native Marbella, focused on local Andalucian cuisine.

#87 New Entry

Paco Perez

Enoteca, Barcelona

Paco Pérez (miramar)
Paco Perez. Photo: Miramar

Perez’s passion for cooking started at a very early age. At just 12-years-old he started working in the tapas bar owned by his family and was hooked by cooking. He headed to France to train under Michel Guerard, one of the fathers of Nouvelle cuisine and holder of three Michelin stars. He then returned to work at, for a long time, the world’s best restaurant, El Bulli. In 2008, Perez took over the kitchen of Enoteca at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, where he has won two Michelin stars.

#96 New Entry

Martina Puigvert, Fina Puigdevall

Les Cols, Olot, Catalunya

Martina Puigvert, Fina Puigdevall Facebook
Fina Puigdevall and Martina Puigvert. Photo: Les Cols Facebook

Mother and daughter team Fina Puigdevall and Martina Puigvert share their ranking (and two Michelin stars). Their restaurant, Les Cols, located in the masía farmhouse where Fina was born and brought up her three children, focuses on local produce from the La Garrotxa region. Martina has taken over from her mother as head chef and is keeping the family tradition going.


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