Carmen Benítez. Journalist @cabeherrero
Wiki Spanish Food interviews Toño Pérez, owner of Cáceres-based Atrio restaurant, with two Michelin stars. Atrio perfectly combines the enchanting qualities of both a historic city and an exclusive hotel.
Wiki Spanish Food- You opened Atrio Restaurante Hotel Relais & Chateaux in Cáceres in 2011. How would you describe the last three years?
Toño Pérez.- The last few years have been tremendously positive, although the beginning was quite challenging.
W.S.F.- You opened your first Atrio restaurant in 1986. What advantages and experiences did that contribute to your hotel business?
T.P.- The hotel allows me to enjoy and to form part of our customers' experience. Staying with us "closes the circle" of our gastronomic experience.
W.S.F.- You included a new concept at the restaurant: haute cuisine breakfasts. How did you do it? What do you serve? How has this concept worked?
T.P.- It works because we made it simple. Our guests can have a traditional breakfast at the restaurant, which includes a range of dishes, from salty to sweet; there's something for everyone. Moreover, we pay very close attention to our products and service, as both are extremely important to us.
W.S.F.- What is the signature dish on your menu?
T.P.- In my opinion, our most emblematic dish is pig's snout with crayfish and a creamy sauce. It is an absolute must when eating at Atrio.
W.S.F.- You have worked with architects Emilio Tuñón Álvarez and Luis Moreno Mansilla. How important is your restaurant's architecture?
T.P.- Architecture is vitally important in our surroundings. In fact, I wouldn't understand Atrio without the work of Tuñón and Mansilla; it gives the construction notable personality.
W.S.F.- I imagine that raw materials are very important at a restaurant like Atrio. Where do you usually shop? Do you go yourself or do you delegate this task?
T.P.- Raw materials are key in our cuisine, as are our suppliers. We work together very closely and we have forged an invaluable relationship with them over the last 25 years.
W.S.F.- Sustainability is now the buzzword across all sectors. Is Atrio Restaurante Hotel Relais & Chateaux sustainable? If so, how?
T.P.- We are. We try to be as energy efficient as possible. For example, we use waste heat from AC and refrigeration to heat a portion of our water and one of our swimming pools.
W.S.F.- One of the main characteristics of haute cuisine chefs is that they are always producing new creations. What innovations are you preparing for the next season?
T.P.- We are always developing our raw materials and creations; as a result, we always offer new dishes when you least expect it.
W.S.F.- For you personally, which is your favorite meal?
T.P.- Breakfast, without a doubt.
W.S.F.- What is your preferred restaurant?
T.P.- I have too many to list, but what's most important is dining in good company and receiving good service.
W.S.F.- TVE's recent TV show Master Chef has raised awareness about high-end gastronomy. What is your take on the program?
T.P.- I have a very high opinion of the show. These types of programs do a very good job of informing the general public about the food world.
W.S.F.- How do you view the future of haute cuisine in Spain?
T.P.- I believe the sector is on the right track, and we must continue to work hard and enthusiastically while focusing on maximum enjoyment.