Disfrutar: the success of a restaurant is based on the Human Factor

Mateu Casañas, Eduard Xatruch and Oriol Castro, foreign chefs of the year for Identità, tell us about the theme of the 2018 Congress

by Niccolò Vecchia
Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch

Oriol CastroMateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch of Disfrutar – Barcelona. Peirone, Top Gastronomy Manager at Gruppo Lavazza hands them the Best Foreign Chef of the year award assigned by Guida di Identità Golose 2018 

We met them a few days ago in Milan, at hotel Excelsior Gallia. They were there for the presentation of the 11th edition of the Guida ai ristoranti di Identità Golose, which gave them the Best Foreign Chefs award. Mateu Casañas, Eduard Xatruch and Oriol Castro manage the culinary offer of two restaurants: one, the first born, is called Compartir and is in Cadaqués (Gabriele Zanatta wrote about it last year), the second-born, now more famous, is Disfrutar, in Barcelona (Angela Barusi wrote about it in 2015 for Identità, and recently Carlo Passera shared his enthusiastic view).

The three chefs trained together, for many years, in a restaurant that is now a pure myth: Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli. It is no coincidence that Massimo Bottura considered his experience in that kitchen as the most significant training moment in his career (he told so to Luciana Bianchi a few years ago), and recalled from the stage at the Gallia hotel, with a smile, how strict the bosses were: «those three were always beating us at Adrià’s!».

Now, after their elegant and characterful emancipation from the shadow of the great masters, they are three of the most rampant chefs in the global culinary scene. And in order to continue our series of discussions with the coming speakers at the Congresso di Identità Golose, in Milan from the 3rd to the 5th of March 2018, we made use of their presence in town to ask them their first thoughts on the theme chosen by Paolo Marchi for the 14th edition of Identità Milano, the “Human Factor”.

A photo of the beautiful dining room at Disfrutar

A photo of the beautiful dining room at Disfrutar

«Giving value to people is important whatever the profession. But especially when speaking of cooking and restaurants, the human factor is essential. In a restaurant, there’s a constant contact with the client, and it’s extremely important that you can convey warmth, proximity, your wish to satisfy their needs, humbleness, the desire that the experience of the client is special in every way».

Indeed the experience at Disfrutar is unforgettable thanks to the smiling, the brilliant care dedicated to every client, with no exception. In order to reach this goal, however, you need harmony in the dining room too, among those who run the service...
In this sense the human factor is essential. In order to reach these goals, it is also crucial that the restaurant team is close-knit, that everyone has the same goal in mind. In our case this affinity must start from us three.

Indeed it cannot be easy for three talented and experienced chefs like you to find the way to grow together. How do you do it?
We are an example of the importance of the human factor, in that we have always tried to find the right way to enhance our affinities while respecting our reciprocal differences, always finding a balance between us. We’ve known each other for many years, so now it comes rather natural. Sometimes it may happen that it takes us longer to make a decision, compared to others. But the resulting decision, in the end, is analysed in greater depth, and it’s sounder. Our common goals are truly solid.

The three chefs portrayed in the other restaurant: Compartir, in Cadaquès

The three chefs portrayed in the other restaurant: Compartir, in Cadaquès

In Italy we’ve been speaking for a while about how hard it is to find motivated dining room staff: for someone, like you, who have the establishment of a friendly and attentive relationship with the client as your first goal, is it complicated to form a dining room team?
It’s the same in Spain too: it’s always harder to find skilled dining room staff. However, we always try to convey motivation and passion to our staff, the values we then want them to convey to the clients. We’re convinced that dining room service makes for at least 50% of the restaurant experience, and of the success of an establishment. We can make excellent food, but if we our dining room staff isn’t able to present our ideas and our dishes, it would be a disaster nonetheless. This is why we pay great attention to people, to the human factor in this sense too: we want to enhance the personalities of the people who work with us and share our values. So that we can all grow together.

See also:
The human factor and the dignity of people by Massimo Bottura
Corrado Assenza: The 'human factor’ in all my speeches at Identità
Camanini: the Human Factor as the foundations of Lido 84


IG2018: il fattore umano

Tutto sull’edizione 2018 di Identità Golose, a Milano da sabato 3 a lunedì 5 marzo. Il tema della quattordicesima edizione sarà “Il fattore umano”