Asturian chef Marcos Morán is the latest in a long list of people to man the stoves. He and his father, Pedro Morán, have been running Casa Gerardo since 2005; the restaurant opened its doors more than 130 years ago. He also runs Hispania restaurant, in London. Morán shares how he got to where is he today as well as details on his day-to-day.
Gema Boiza. Journalist. @GemaBoiza
-How would you define Marcos Morán's cooking?
The food we serve at Casa Gerardo can be described in a word: contemporary. It doesn't aim to be the most avant-garde, nor does it shy away from that classification. It's a style of cooking we're comfortable with, and we hope our customers also enjoy it as much as possible, the goal being to bring out the best of each ingredient.
-How would you describe your experience at Hispania? Has it met your expectations?
Absolutely. We're coming to the end of the first year and we are thrilled with the results, both financially and in terms of customers, the day-to-day, and the restaurant's perception locally. We are one of the city's top restaurants. At the same time, we aim to grow. This first year is just the beginning of a much larger project through which our goal is to expand and continue to feel proud of our work.
-Might you replicate the Hispania model outside London? Will Marcos Morán embark on another international adventure?
What we may do is open another restaurant in London, probably next year. As for new projects outside London, if the conditions are right, including those within the Hispania model, we might do it.
-Have you considered opening another Casa Gerardo elsewhere in Spain or in the world?
No. Casa Gerardo is perfect right where it is, with all the pros and cons of being in Asturias. I don't think it makes sense outside of the region. We may undertake other projects, but our goal is for those ventures to enable us to perfect our operations at Casa Gerardo, to allow us small luxuries that would not be within reach with our primary restaurant alone.
-How much of Casa Gerardo is reflected in Hispania?
The entire gastronomic experience. At Hispania, our cooking is very Spanish, very authentic. We serve the kinds of dishes you could eat at a Spanish tapas bar or restaurant. We use products with a strong connection to Spain. Moreover, I'm responsible for the culinary concept, so you have the Casa Gerardo influence right there. The goal is to serve Spanish cooking that represents all of Spain.
-What is your opinion of the Repsol and Michelin Guides?
One is the most important in Spain, and the other is the most important in the world. The Repsol Guide is a commendable undertaking by Rafael García Santos, Spain's Royal Academy of Gastronomy, and the Brotherhood of Fine Dining, and it provides a lot of support to Spanish cuisine. The Michelin Guide is the most important gastronomy reference in the world. I would buy them both.
-How would you describe Spanish gastronomy? Is it changing?
Spanish gastronomy is doing very well right now, and it's able to adapt to the times. The luxury concept is shifting a bit and people have greater appreciation for a good product. I still believe Spain has the best food in the world, and we must be doing something right, since most other cuisines try to copy us.
-What is Casa Gerardo's best dish? Is it the same at Hispania?
No, they are two different restaurant concepts. At Casa Gerardo, our best dishes are fabada (a bean stew typical of the region) and rice pudding. At Hispania, we find that Spanish dishes that are slightly adapted are the most popular, for example, our version of garlic prawns, torrijas (similar to French toast), croquettes and Spanish omelet.
-How would you rate Spanish chefs?
The are the reason Spanish gastronomy is so successful at the moment. Most are young and well-trained; they are the best chefs in the world. Right now we're going through a rough patch in terms of the economy, but at the same time, there are many advances at a social and technical level.
-To what degree are you involved in dealing with suppliers and selecting products?
I'm involved 100%. Today the 21st century chef must know how to buy, identify and recognize what can and can't be done in his or her restaurant. Sometimes there are products we love but, for financial reasons, they aren't a good fit, and there are others that are wonderful when you try them, but later you realize they have no future. Knowing the product is fundamental.