Waterloo’s BFI IMAX cinema was the perfect movie star-like setting for the 2019 Michelin star awards ceremony, attended by the world’s best chefs and food critics. Despite the fact that some chefs (like Sébastien Bras of Le Suquet) requested not to be included in the guide owing to the stress caused by inspectors, for others – especially upcoming chefs – the awards continue to be a way to target new audiences and establish their regions as noteworthy in the gourmet sector.

This year, Andalucía once again shone brightly, and our own province, Málaga, took pole position, scooping up a total of 10 out of the 22 stars awarded to southern Spanish restaurants. The highest ranking restaurants in Andalucía are Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz and Dani García of Marbella – both of which received the coveted three-Michelin star rating. There have been few changes in the line-up of winning restaurants spanning from Casares to Fuengirola this year. The winners include:

Dani García (3 Stars)

Dani García is now a well-known face not only in Andalucía, but throughout Spain. His Grupo Dani García is a burgeoning company comprising a number of establishments, including Dani García at the Puente Romano, BiBo Marbella (a gourmet tapas venue also located within the trendy La Plaza at Puente Romano), Lobito del Mar (a ‘beachless chiringuito’ serving traditional, produce-driven dishes that celebrate the freshness of the Mediterranean), Eventos Dani García (which provides catering across Spain), Atelier (the Chef’s ideas lab and events space) and the Dani García Foundation (a non-profit organisation that takes part in raising awareness, research, and education, fostering good eating habits for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of childhood diseases). A scan of Dani García’s menu seems simple and familiar, with dishes like puchero andaluz, and anchovies and truffles enticing with their traditional flavours. Yet an actual meal at this restaurant is like entering a wonderland of flavours, textures, and sheer artistry. Liquid nitrogen continues to predominate at this establishment, with dishes like Détox Nitro and Nitro Olives indicating the extent to which the Chef loves to shatter expectations of what food should be.


Kabuki Raw (1 Star)

Luis Olarra is the talented Chef who has been entrusted to bring traditional Japanese dishes to life at Kabuki Raw – undoubtedly one of the most famed Japanese restaurants in Spain. Olarra honed his craft with no less than Ricardo Sanz at the Michelin-starred Kabuki Wellington in Madrid. At Kabuki Raw, located in the elegant Finca Cortesín resort in Casares, Olarra introduces traditional Andalusian ingredients into his cuisine, surprising guests with dishes such as the urta fish in ponzu sauce, as well as classic Kabuki dishes, elegant sushi selections and much more.

www.fincacortesin.com/ www.restaurantekabuki.com

Sollo (1 Star)

Fuengirola/Benalmádena area had always dreamed of boasting its own Michelin-starred establishment… until Diego Gallegos, Chef, Researcher, and Gastronomic ‘Recreator’, came along. His restaurant, Sollo (ensconced in the luxurious Doubletree by Hilton Resort & Spa Reserva del Higuerón) has two tasting menus (one slightly longer than the other), with fish – in particular, sturgeon – playing the starring role. At the Reserva del Higuerón Resort, Gallegos, known as ‘The Caviar Chef’, has created Sollo Experience: a sustainable gastronomic laboratory in which he shares his innovative creations and experiment results with keen gastronomes.


Messina (1 Star)

Mauricio Giovanini and his wife, Pia Ninci, are the dynamic duo that has been the heart and soul of this hive of creativity since its launch. When Messina received its first Michelin star in 2015, savvy diners on the Coast knew that the award had long been forthcoming. Giovanini has always been a curious, hardworking, passionate Chef who began experimenting with flavours, textures, and slow, patient cooking methods since his early days. He is mostly self-taught – a fact which makes his achievements all the more meritorious.

Giovanini has long been obsessed with the liquid components of vegetables, whose essence he extracts and serves in a variety of concentrates, meringues, sauces, etc. He also uses natural thickeners (obtained from dried fruits, fish collagen and meat), to create inimitable dishes.

Just a few wonders to watch out for in his tasting menu include creamy chimichurri, tomato and lemon; Iberian pork with creamy lentils and roasted baby onion; and white sea bass with grilled vegetables. These and other dishes symbolise the Chef’s interest in aesthetics, as well as his deep respect for produce and tradition.


El Lago (1 Star)

Launched in the summer of 2000, this scenic restaurant overlooking the Greenlife Golf course has always been a guarantee of quality, tradition, and the zero-kilometre concept that commenced with ex-Chef, Diego del Río and continues under the guiding hand of enigmatic young Chef, Juan José Carmona – who is as passionate about the roots of Andalusian cuisine as his predecessor. Paco García is a stalwart of the company, having held the position of Director since the restaurant’s launch. He is joined by María José Aguilar, Maître d’ since 2006, and the brains behind what has come to be known as one of the most varied wine cellars on the Coast. This winter, be enticed by soul-soothing dishes like the chestnut cream with quail and ragout, or the seasonal mushrooms with broken egg and chicken broth. The menu also has quite original dishes to feast on, including the creamy sea urchin rice!


Skina (1 Star)

The founder of Skina, Marcos Granda, knew that he had fulfilled his dream (“to do what I most enjoy in life”) when he first opened Skina in December, 2004. Alongside his wife, María Isabel Salamanca, Marcos focused on offering diners food made with regional produce, prepared with innovative techniques that nevertheless paid a nod to tradition. Skina achieved its first Michelin star in 2009, a recognition it has held onto since then. Service, ambience, and food all weave their particular brand of magic in this, one of the most romantic establishments in the scenic Old Town – owing in no small part to its small, intimate interiors. Diners can choose from a Seasonal Products Menu and an à la carte menu. Both feature dishes that are stunningly presented; if you haven’t tried it yet, the risotto made with black trumpet is a must, as is the very original oxtail ravioli and coffee. Complementary and contrasting flavours are beautifully balanced in this restaurant, which is no less than a standard bearer for seasonal Andalusian cuisine.