Despite having closed down his three Michelin stars, Sant Pau restaurant, almost a year ago, Carme Ruscalleda is still on the ball. Either with the menus of Moments restaurant in Barcelona and Sant Pau in Tokyo (both of them owning two Michelin stars), sharing their knowledge wherever they request it, or doing research with Cuina estudi, her gastronomic laboratory. In just over a month, “San Sebastian Gastronomika” gastronomic fair will award her with the “Tribute” prize, in recognition of her career, the only female chef to own seven Michelin stars. A perfect excuse to speak to her about her vision of gastronomy and the universe of pintxos.
- Carme, do you sleep better without the burden of having a 3 star Michelin restaurant?
- In my everyday life, I continue to work with commitment, dedication and creativity. When the media asked me about the closure, I told them that I was going to live on continue vacation from now on, because when I closed the Sant Pau for vacation, I closed that restaurant, but everything else remained running: opened in Tokyo, opened in Barcelona, contacts with companies, schools… Therefore, now I live on constant holidays, because the Sant Pau was the piece that required more commitment and hours devoted by myself, since I felt that my presence in every service was needed. Given that the whole staff working there around me was totally committed, I was a kind of dynamo who was catalyzing all that work, and mainly for my commitment with our customers, who were making the trip and the monetary effort to meet me there.
- Therefore, you have mainly freed yourself from the regular schedule routine.
- That’s right. Now I have more free time, which I have quickly occupied with social commitments related to gastronomy. Now, more than ever, I am involved in adult training sessions, in colleges, in primary schools…There are weeks that I have daily commitments.
- Given your keen response, I sense you have never regretted your previous decision.
- No. In fact, I’m going to tell you that was a well considered decision. Me and my husband were very clear that we never would close tired and exhausted. It had to be shut down with the same utmost enthusiasm we use to open every day. Entering a restaurant venue and meet their leaders tired is really sad: that mood spreads quickly to everyone, both staff and customers. We were been open for 30 years, and we thought that was the right time to do it. In addition, we had been working for 20 years before we opened the Sant Pau, so we had a 50-year career behind us, and eager to go on!