Pedro Sánchez, at the helm of Bagá, has a long track record and is extraordinarily knowledgeable when it comes to the world of gastronomy.
His upcoming talk at the congress is the perfect excuse for a chat.
For those not lucky enough to have yet entered the small establishment run by Pedro Sánchez, Pedrito to his colleagues, you should know that 80% of the menu is plant-based. Something he says was ‘neither planned nor thought about,’ but rather ‘the result of an evolution.’ It’s easy to guess, then, that his next talk at Madrid Fusión will be about the plant world, the way he works at the restaurant, ‘and probably about small-scale farmers and producers,’ he adds. Will you prepare a dish? ‘We’ll do something, but what’s really important is not a recipe but the spirit with which we do things at Bagá,’ Sánchez explains. ‘I hear a lot of talk about sustainability, but at the end of the day cooks should − because of our philosophy and how we express ourselves − use the best produce available. We no longer use a cauliflower because it’s sustainable or not, but because it’s a great ingredient, just as a head of lettuce can be.’
Pedro believes that vegetables can offer many more nuances than meat or fish. ‘In the end, the palette of colours, textures and flavours that the plant world offers us does not exist in the animal world, and it doesn’t even come close.’
This chef opened his little eatery in 2018. Pre-pandemic, it seated twelve diners at tables and four at the bar, and the intention was to fulfil a dream that was miles from the idea of ‘great, luxury haute-cuisine restaurants.’ A model praised by Ferran Adrià, which has allowed him to survive in these Covid times more successfully than others. ‘The difference lies in that there are five of us. When I opened Bagá, I was afraid of being in debt for the rest of my life or of starting a project that wouldn’t allow me to do what I wanted. I respect every kind of project and understand that cooks have to adapt, but I believe that the model of a great, luxury restaurant can change because of its sustainability, though not the kind everyone talks about − that of produce − but the kind that’s never mentioned. By this I mean economic sustainability, and it’s fundamental.’
His one and only project is to invest in Bagá and make sure it offers the best of everything; the different angle this chef takes when it comes to vegetables has made his eatery in Jaén one of the most interesting in this eponymous region, although he’d rather not be pigeonholed. ‘In the end, we know more about crab, langoustines or meat, and nothing about onions. We know if a crab is male or female, when it’s best to eat it or fish it, yet nothing about onions. Vegetables showcase nuances that are simply not offered by meat because, when you think about it, meat always has the same nuances,’ he explains.
Via Bagá, Pedro Sánchez teaches − in a similar way to Rodrigo de la Calle − the most unknown side of the plant world and, furthermore, shows that veggie recipes are far from boring. There’s a lot to learn about. We’re looking forward to doing that at his next talk.