Óscar Velasco, 46, chef from Santceloni, two Michelin stars in Madrid. He’ll cook at the Hub of Identità Golose Milano from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th September (75 euros, including wines, reservations online)
Identità Golose is happy to present Óscar Velasco, chef from Santceloni, two Michelin stars in Madrid, to the Italian public. The chef, now 46 years old, is originally from Segovia (a few kilometres north of Madrid) and has a remarkable curriculum.
He studied hospitality and catering in his hometown. After completing his studies, in 1996, he immediately started to work in Madrid’s great restaurant scene: the first significant work was in the brigade of Zalacaín, an establishment over 46-years-old, and most of all the first restaurant in the Iberian peninsula to get 3 Michelin stars, in 1987 (they lost them in 1996). The chef of the time was Benjamín Urdiain, a real mentor for our cook.
After 4 months in Madrid, Velasco worked for a season in the Basque country, where he observed the work of another giant of the cuisine below the Pyrenees: he worked as chef-de-partie with Martin Berasategui in Lasarte – another 3-star establishment: this is where young Oscar started to acquire his first executive responsibilities. In late 1998, another temple of fine dining: he was hired in the team at Can Fabes, the restaurant of the late Santi Santamaria, right in Sant Celoni, a town halfway between Barcelona and Gerona. This is another establishment with the highest acknowledgements (3 stars between 1994 and 2011). Here the chef learnt a philosophy that will become his own for ever: market-based cuisine and the importance of local, and of course excellent, ingredients. A focus on raw materials, rather than on techniques, in years when, over there, a certain guy called Ferran Adrià was starting to stand out, in some ways a real "antagonist" of Santi in his basic approach.
Filet of sardine wrapped in pork jowl from Iberian pigs, tomato, cucumber
Smoked scampi with its sauce and corn
After Madrid, the Basque Country and Catalonia, it’s time to return home: Santamaria offers Velasco an important chance for a turning point: he hires him as head chef of a new ambitious project, restaurant Santceloni in Madrid, inside 5-star hotel Hesperia, now in the Relais & Chateaux and Le Grandes Tables du Monde.
The cuisine is immediately appreciated by guests and critics: the Red Guide of Spain and Portugal gives him the first star after only one year (2001) and 3 years later the second one. These are only the first important prizes for Santceloni and Velasco was awarded in 2006 with the important "Grand Prix Chef’Avenir" from the Académie Internationale de la Gastronomie and as Best Chef de Cuisine during the Madrid Fusioncongress.
Óscar Velasco is a calm and reserved chef, a workaholic. He works in harmony with a long-standing team with an extraordinary talent, led by maître Abel Valverde and by sommelier David Robledo, the chef’s real emissaries in the dining room. Santceloni is the place where food and service co-exist in perfect balance, with no prevailing between dining room and kitchen.
Lasagne with duck, fennel, pistachios, cardamom and Idiazabal cheese whey
Carrot granita, lime, dill, oats and ginger
This establishment has written an important chapter in the last two decades of history of Madrid’s food scene, with dishes such as Veal shin and potato purée, Monkfish with pig ears and bone marrow, Suckling pig confit with black truffle and zabaglione. And one of the most surprising and complete cheese carts in the fine dining scene.
This is the 4-course menu designed for the 4 dinner events at the Hub in Via Romagnosi, from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th September (75 euros, including wines, reservations online).
Smoked scampi with its sauce and corn
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
Tales and photos from the first International Hub of Gastronomy in Via Romagnosi, 3 in Milan
This article is curated by Identità Golose, the publication that organises the international fine dining congress, publishes website www.identitagolose.com and the online Guida Identità Golose, on top of curating many other events in Italy and abroad