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23. September 2014from Renate Schnutt

Featured: 3 - Star Chef Juan Amador

This building, stretched out over a vast area including a pool and green expanse, makes an imposing first impression. Primarily, it accommodates an exclusive restaurant for a maximum of 20 people, but it is also used for large events. It makes an impression right from the start.

Juan de la Cruz Amador Perez, as he is properly known, is one of the big names in gastronomy. He came into the world as the son of a migrant worker in Germany in 1968, but his family roots are in fiery Andalucía.

Becoming a cook per se was never really his plan. Inspired by his uncle, who managed a hotel on Ibiza, and by the aesthetic allure of this supposedly deluxe job, such as sun, fast cars and beautiful women, Amador developed the desire to get into hotel management. He started off without much of a plan – nobody hires a teenager as a manager – at the bottom of the ladder with a cooking internship.

Chance led him to his calling. After completing his apprenticeship, he passed through various formative, culinary educational institutions such as the Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe, where he first came into contact with painstakingly meticulous work and high-end cuisine. His style received further essential definition with Albert Bouley in Ravensburg, who had 4 toques blanches in his pocket. This is when the creativity switch flipped in Juan Amador’s head; the idea manifested itself that food can contain emotions and surprises. This newly won insight not only made a lasting impression upon his style but also gave meaning to his cooking.

Amador’s new increase in knowledge was well rounded-out in the Restaurant Petersilie in Lüdenscheid, the Fährhaus Munkmarsch in Sylt and the Schlosshotel Weyberhöfe in Sailauf before he took the plunge into absolute freedom with his “first Amador” in Langen.

After 10 years of independence, Amador can allow himself a retrospective glance into dark times that, whilst hard, taught him a lot. His first restaurant in Langen as well as its derivative in Wiesbaden brought him to his knees with insolvency several years ago. Amador explains, in a pragmatic but also thoroughly relaxed manner: “You can fall down, you just have to get up again. You can’t permanently be celebrated.” It seems as though he has also completely extricated himself from the pressure to succeed: “Naturally, we don’t work first and foremost just to be financially successful, but to feel good and to develop as people.” – how true and well-reflected is his statement.

The Amador restaurant itself resembles a refuge: bright, open and very spacious. Many artistic works and installations decorate the huge walls, upon which one’s gaze can easily rest. The right ambience to carry out excellent work in! Amador was not always so artistically minded; a significant role in this was and is played by love, which regularly leads him to Vienna where he can extensively indulge his enjoyment of art, which in turn influences his work.

The restaurant is the embodiment and flagship of Amador’s work and the basis for his reputation. Everything hinges on its existence. Even if, after briefly discussing the cost of sales – considered independently – this seems economically precarious and any budget analyst would run for the hills, its place in the overall concept is nonetheless justified. The resulting follow-up business is not only interesting, but breathtaking. The presentation of the S-Class Mercedes-Benz was recently bedded in culinary praise for Amador’s specially created dishes. This was followed by a sumptuous challenge as part of a lucrative roadshow in India, providing Amador and his team with a rewarding experience.

Further fruitful cooperation is in place with the Hotel Kempinski Frankfurt. The new restaurant SRA BUA, under the kitchen management of Dennis Maier, sparks a firework of senses among guests in accordance with the tone set by Juan Amador.

Freedom of expression is not only a keyword for the immediate surroundings, but also the philosophy and foundation of his creative oeuvre. The creative processes are experienced as a team. In particular with chef de cuisine Moses Ceylan, whom he affectionately refers to as his culinary twin. “The philosophy is clear. You have to give the guys freedom, so that they can evolve their complete expression. I see myself as more of a critic, who – if necessary – fine-tunes things.”

Amador usually has a new interpretation of a classical dish in mind. And here Spain still plays a large role as a source of inspiration. Juan Amador explained the creative superstructure to us as follows: “The tribute to the country is interpreted as a dish. Art, on the other hand, provides inspiration when it comes to the language of design.”

However, many interesting dishes are also created with their basis in Asian or French cuisine, and are then appropriately amadorized ;-). When speaking of the techniques used, Amador could justly be described as the forefather of the application of iSi in Germany. The first contact took place during a career stage on Sylt. Upon the first official meeting of Feran Adrià’s creations and Juan Amador’s palate, the latter momentarily admitted defeat: “I stood up and said: I can’t cook.” What followed was an excessive analysis of the then booming molecular gastronomy. Today the iSi technic is part of Amador’s daily bread, just as indispensible, for example, as a sharp knife.

After having clarified origin and technic, creation now takes its place in the menu. Since of course nobody can be creative at the touch of a button, this is changed 3 – 4 times a year and even then not entirely; it is merely considered with great deliberation and partially altered. Naturally, the team does not content itself with simply swapping side dishes; only genuine innovations make their way into the menu. These are usually served to regulars as special courses for testing purposes or, if it just so happens to work out, placed in front of star chef Eckart Witzigmann, whose stimulating comments are then eagerly noted.

As the last important component in the quartet of success factors, the sourcing of ingredients is also an exclusive and selective process. In this world, it is not about being regional, sustainable or let alone vegan. “I want the perfect fish, I don’t care where it comes from. What’s more, high cuisine is neither vegetarian nor vegan. Just as I can’t leave the orchestra out of a grand opera.”

Anyone who wishes to have the pleasure of experiencing this complete, culinarily artistic picture is well-advised with our recipe tips from Juan Amador. Have fun trying them out!

iSi recipes by Juan Amador:

Oysters
Apple strudel in textures
Black forest cherry