On 21 November 2018, Dani García received his third Michelin star for the restaurant bearing his name in the Hotel Puente Romano in Marbella, Spain. Only three weeks after celebrating the fantastic news, and catching many of us off-guard, one of Spain’s most decorated chefs announced that this restaurant is to close its doors for the last time at the end of 2019.
Dani García convened a meeting with his team to inform them of the surprising and significant decision, highlighting the efforts made over the last 20-something years and ensuring that “there is no second first time”. He also set a closing date and started a countdown from 314 days, with only 202 services to go. He explained his decision in a video published on his social media accounts, which has spread like wildfire.
What initially appeared to be an announcement of his retirement, after achieving the maximum distinction in the world of gastronomy, was an outline of his intention to transform into something much greater: a decision made after much deliberation, responding to the scope of other objectives that, for him, are much more important and profound.
The Malaga-born chef wishes to achieve a new dream and bring his vision of Andalusian gastronomy “to all corners and audiences of the world”, as he stated on his Twitter account.
A new chapter in his career
15 years ago, Dani García was working in the ‘Tragabuches’ restaurant in Ronda, which was the torch-bearer of new southern cuisine. Much like ‘El Bulli’ in northern Spain, Dani García’s dishes were crafted in Andalusia on the basis of research and technological processes. Techniques such as deep-freezing, coagulations and the use of liquid nitrogen in his cooking – the fruit of collaboration with professor Raimundo García del Moral – added completely new textures to dishes, blowing away national and international critics.
Since then, and over the course of this long and winding road which has led to a third Michelin star, Dani García’s cooking has evolved, developing a more elegant expression that is not as ground-breaking as it once was. Marbella and New York gave him relevance and visibility, although the latter only lasted a short time due to its format, without as many innovative proposals, which he was able to offer in his ‘BiBo’ restaurants in Marbella and Madrid.
Other culinary masters and figureheads have already acted similarly by closing their flagship restaurants, opting to go down the route of training or research, as done by Ferrán Adrià and Frédy Girardet. García, however, has taken a giant leap forward, and has chosen to do so at only 42 years of age.
Dani García opted to make this change after a period of intense reflection, aware of the scale of the project ahead of him. He also states that he wishes to tackle this new challenge with his entire team by his side, and that he needs them now more than ever, meaning their jobs will not be under threat. These plans were communicated to the team during the meeting.
As of October 2019, new names will appear in García’s restaurant portfolio alongside his already-established ‘BiBo’ and ‘Lobito de Mar’: ‘Leña’, ‘Hoso’ and ‘Iris’, offering cuisine to suit all budgets. This new approach won’t make Dani forget about his three Michelin stars – recognition for which he demands respect – but for now he would prefer to focus on new, completely different projects.
The first step will see the transformation of the premises housing the Dani García restaurant into a steakhouse, Leña, which will specialise in burgers and be branded differently. The menu will be accessible for all, with prices starting at €15-20 and the average price-per-person sitting at around €50.
The Grupo Dani García is also planning new projects and new brands. In 2019, we are expecting to see the opening of ‘BiBo Flamenco Tapas & Bar’ in Malaga Airport, as well as the opening of ‘Iris’, in a brasserie format, inside the brilliant Four Seasons Madrid. Internationally, we will also see the arrival of ‘BiBo’ in Qatar as well as other openings in London and New York.
Dani García is also aiming to step into television, starting by hosting his own weekday television programme from March onwards. While the chef has already made several one-off appearances on TV, this will be the first time he has hosted his own television show, which will be based on traditional cooking.
These new challenges will add a new dimension to the chef’s group and personal brand, but this is still several months away. For the time being, we can still enjoy the Dani García restaurant and its offerings of haute cuisine.