Abraham Ortega will already be preparing the stoves for the next diners. She traveled last night, still hungover from the dream, waiting for the miracle to be denied at some point. Then, she realizes that sooner or later, the reward comes and discovers that recognition is an incentive for anyone who dedicates himself to creating in order to find himself. Abraham Ortega and Aser Martín smile at the camera hugging Borja Marrero, the trio is, suddenly, the Gran Canarian representation at the 2023 Michelin Stars Gala with which the maturity of Canarian gastronomy was celebrated on Tuesday night with the endowment of a Michelin Star to the Tabaiba restaurant and the granting of Green Star for its environmental proposal to Muxgo.
The new acquisitions in the Michelin Guide with the Canary seal are added to the premiere of the San-Hô brand, in the south of Tenerifewhich is led by Adrian Bosch and Eduardo Dominguez with a Michelin star. In total there are eleven stars in the culinary firmament of the Canary Islandscfour of them in two emblematic hotels of the Barceló Hotel Group in Gran Canaria and Tenerife. The new one from San-Hô and the second from El Rincón de Juan Carlos, in addition to last year’s from the Poemas restaurant. This makes Barceló the chain with the most stars in the Canary Islands. Juan Carlos and Jonathan Padrón –the Padrón brothers- revalidate the Star of Poems of the Hotel Santa Catalina and acquire 2 Michelin Stars for El Rincón de Juan Carlos; at the same time that Martín Berasategui’s MB has two shines at the Hotel Abama. In addition, they keep theirs Kabuki and Nub, in Tenerife, and the Aquarela, Guayres y Poemas, in Gran Canaria. “It was a dream. You always see it in your house and living it inside, with that work and sacrifice, there were many mixed feelings, between joy and taking a weight off your shoulders,” he comments on the other end of the phone.
From the neighborhood of La Isleta, Ortega was studying in Madrid and worked in various places until, at the age of 29, he decided to take the plunge and build with the latter Aser Martín, “my gastronomic better half”, this project that on Calle Portugal from the capital of Gran Canaria collects the slipstream of the sea and bets on the place where he grew up. “We could have gone to Vegueta or Triana as there is greater purchasing power, but part of the name of Tabaiba is also so that we do not forget the way: we have to teach what it is Canary Islands gastronomically, we are in fashion and they want to know what we eat and how we do it, we live in a golden age in the city and quite strong at a national level”, declares the chef who has achieved his first Michelin Star after opening the business in full pandemicJust a year and eight months ago. With five workers, he brings the tanned hands of the moments full of restlessness to now celebrate this triumph with them.
If asked about your most primal interest, Abraham laughs, “I always liked to eat since I was little”, but the infinite trail of dishes that mark the Tabaiba and Experiencia menus that they offer in the few square meters where you already have to wait to make a reservation clarify the origins of their inspiration. The dishes combine, for example, chickpeas with egg and crest, or the vieja that oozes in gazpachuelo and vinegar, also, ice cream bread or jarea combined with onion and seaweed. It’s inappropriate to ask a chef his favorite recipe, but you always try to guess. The two he names are “the chickpea, which is how my grandmother used to make it, although we tried to modernize it a bit, and the fig leaf dessert is very significant and shows maturity as a pastry chef.” Above all, he needs peace of mind, time, “and trial and error” to find the exact note of the memories and concepts that he wants to capture among the cutlery.
The garden speaks for itself. Aquanaria sea bass tartare, with tuna mojo sauce, minced figs and citrus sheep’s milk. That is one of the dishes offered Muxgo on the rooftop of the Hotel Catalina Plaza on Luis Morote street. Leading the way is Borja Marrero, who imagined what it would be like to go on stage until he succeeded by being one of those graced by the incorporation of the Green Star category that distinguishes sustainable initiatives with local products. From a very young age, barely six years old, he describes how they instilled in him a love of cooking and he did his first steps making French omelettes for his sister. “This is love for a territory, for Tejeda, and from there comes the idea of putting our town on the map so that, with the idea of Spain emptied, people see the potential of my place,” he stresses. in the morning after the ceremony that brought together the best cards in the country.
New Michelin generations
In his day to day, he gets up, there are days when he helps out on the farm he has at the top of Gran Canaria to promote and bet on the quality of the zero kilometer product, he goes down to the restaurant, works and almost spends all day there within. When picking up the gift at the gala, he declared that this had been a new start in his career and recalls that due to business problems he had to find another way with Muxgo, “some win, others lose, but with that mourning and pain you have to overcome the situation and continue fighting for your dreams with more force if possible”. For this reason, he recommends that new consignments of chefs consider it a way of life, more than a job: “It is a very sacrificed job, but it is an exciting world, that they look into their own identity to find out what they are contributing something to the society”.
During the ceremony, the youth of business creatives that surprise today’s palates was recognized. Faced with this generational change, Abraham Ortega comments that he notices it, above all, in the risk, “there is more concern and, also, as diners we demand another type of gastronomic experience, it does not matter if it is haute cuisine or a sandwich.” He, who among the conditions of attendance at his venue, warns that there is no need to dress with a label but rather as each one feels more comfortable, “luxury and labels are out of date, it’s something old.” Despite the impetus, the balance of the Michelin Guide reveals that among the winners there were 32 restaurants run by men, two in which they are a man and a woman, Ajonegro and Ceibe, and none by a woman.
“There will be more work, but I hope it doesn’t change too much for us because we want to work along the lines that have brought us here,” acknowledges Ortega. Muxgo and Tabaiba have a landscape to be discovered by visitors and locals from the depths of their essence.