The French automobile tyre producer Michelin has been publishing guides for motorists since 1900. The red-covered restaurant “Guide Rouge” is updated every year. It´s considered the most influential advisor in worldwide top-level gastronomy. The rating instruments and criteria are kept top secret. A restaurant can be rated with a maximum of three Michelin stars. There are guides on the market for different countries: France, USA, Germany, UK and Ireland, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. Furthermore, there´s a new series for capital cities like New York, Tokyo, Paris and London.
The island´s gourmet reference is ‘Tristán‘ in Puerto Portals. Manager and chef Gerhard Schwaiger has held two Michelin stars since 1990 without a break. “I´m very proud of this fact and, above all, of the continuity achieved,” Schwaiger remarks. The 49-year-old German chef is not self-satisfied, however: “Maintaining the ranking of an expert jury over so many years is a result of the perfect teamwork. It´s the deserved award for a complete work of art.”
Schwaiger needn´t be humble. He is Mallorca´s pioneer in top-class gastronomy. When ‘Tristán’ opened in 1986, nobody even thought about Michelin stars on the island. “Tristán”´s first chef and manager Heinz Winkler, who learned with Paul Bocuse, had held three Michelin stars since 1981. He taught Schwaiger details of French “Nouvelle Cuisine”, emphasizing the importance of perfect service for the customer. Schwaiger listened carefully – and understood quickly. At only 29 years of age, in 1988, he obtained the first Michelin star. Two years later the second was added. “I simply cook what tastes good to me,” the always unassuming German understates. The preference for sauces (dressings) and noodles is a legacy from his homeland´s cuisine. He´s glad about the fact that there´re now more highly decorated chefs on the island: “Having five restaurants with Michelin star grading is good for Mallorca´s culinary image. Besides, all of them have their own style. There´re no copiers.”
Schwaiger is a Swabian from Bavaria. He was born in the city of Memmingen and graduated at cooking master school in Heidelberg. Recently he introduced his school of show cooking, named “Fórmula Schwaiger” at “Tristán”.
Rafael Sánchez of Arabella Sheraton Hotel in Son Vida feels like he’s become part of an elite. The 34-years-young chef of the hotel restaurant ‘Plat d´Or‘ has had one Michelin star since 2003. He took over the award which his predecessor Cristobal Angulo had achieved. How is this possible? Rafa explains: “When the Michelin jury is notified of a change of chefs, they send out an inspector as soon as possible. So they check if the level is maintained.” And it worked. After an unannounced visit, the food critic identified himself on the phone some days later. “The Michelin star will always be an important prestige award,” the native-born Catalan believes. To ensure ongoing progression, he does lots of off-the-job training, in Spain and abroad. “Authentic taste and flavour” is his theme. To be able to offer guests the biggest variety of dishes, he doesn´t see an alternative to the tasting menu (“Menu de degustación”). Sánchez: “Less is more. The menu should be kept short in order to avoid overloading the guest.”
The out-and-out Mallorcan version of top-gastronomy is that of Tomeu Caldentey of ‘Es Molí den Bou‘ restaurant in Sant Llorenç near Manacor. The 36-year-old runs the gourmet jewel case at the place where he lives, grew up, and graduated as a cooking master. The supposedly best Mallorcan restaurant on the island is housed in an old mill building. It was opened in 2000. Four years later Tomeu obtained his first Michelin star. “Since then we’ve defended it successfully every year,” he proudly remarks. In spite of this he´s not obsessed with the award: “The real star is the customer. He should leave with the desire to come back. Thus every dish is a challenge for me.” He knows that the Michelin star guarantees him media and public interest: “After it was awarded in 2004 attendance increased. But some months later everything returned to normal and in daily routine one has to prove one’s quality every day.”
Tomeu uses only local products and many Mallorcan recipes, such as fish filled with aubergine purée (“Pescado relleno de berenjena”). “Essence and taste” have to be outstanding for him.
Compared with rooted-to-the-soil Tomeu, Marc Fosh of ‘Read´s Hotel‘ in Santa Maria is a celebrity chef. The likeable Briton is often consulted by local journalists on topics like modern cuisine and Mediterranean light food. Michelin awarded the recognisable bald-headed man with one Michelin star in 2002. He really deserves it. In comparison to his Michelin star colleagues, who can concentrate on the restaurant – Fosh: “I envy them for that” – his is a multitasking role. On the one hand the hotel operations must be run constantly. On the other hand Marc Fosh has to set a course in the hotel´s gourmet temples “Bistro33” and “Bacchus”. Fosh: “Some guys only want to have a ham and cheese sandwich. We´re tilling a broad field.” Few English influences remain in his cuisine: “I brought only my British sense of humour here.” His cuisine can be described with the headline “Mediterranean lightness and freshness”.
The workaholic also went into business for himself. In 2004 the concept “Fosh Food” (www.foshfood.com) was born. The star chef holds show cooking lessons in Calle Blanquerna 6 (Palma). The company also provides a catering service and a delicatessen.
Marc Fosh doesn´t think “too much about the award”. He appreciates the entry on his CV, because “Michelin stars are recognized worldwide in the same way.” The star was the result of good work done, having to be defended every year. Once, he read in a magazine how the average Michelin critic behaves: “He´s about 42 years old, books normally for two people and then arrives alone. From the menu he chooses the cheapest dish.” If this reflects reality Marc can´t confirm: “None of them introduced himself to me.”
Gaining a Michelin star, losing it and recovering it later is the special experience of Josef Sauerschell of ‘Es Racó des Teix‘ in Deià. Before the 53-year-old German had opened his own restaurant, he worked as chef at the luxury hotel La Residencia in Deià. For his creations there he obtained the Michelin star in 1991. In 1999 the Michelin committee took it away from him. Sauerschell: “It hurts and it’s a professional damage. I pondered the reasons for a long time.” It wasn’t all down to him though. The new hotel owner applied a tough savings strategy, and the chef became overstrained: “Our service deteriorated and some mistakes happened.” Nowadays he´s happy again. The “German-Mallorcan” has lived on the island since 1986. He´s married to Leonor, with whom he has three daughters. With their Es Racó they recaptured the star in 2002. He feels “very proud” of it. His Mallorcan wife is the maître d’ and presents her husband´s “dish-poems”: fillet of red barb with gambas and vegetable vinaigrette in saffron, roasted goose liver on balsamico dressing and canapé or his famous lamb carré with olive crust.
No matter how important Michelin stars are for a gourmet – visiting all these magical addresses at least once is obligatory within the coming months. What a pity that Koldo Royo lost its star in 2008 – but food quality may not have gone down there. For anyone wanting to know more, all the Michelin guide books are available from selected (online) bookstores. Price each: 15 euros. France is leading the European gourmet scene with 26 (!) three-star restaurants. Germany follows with 9, then Spain & Portugal (6), Italy (5) and the UK & Ireland (3).
Addresses / Contact:
Restaurante Tristán (This restaurant reliquished its Michelin star in January 2012) Tristans now offer the Tristan Bistro or the Tristan Mar – fish restaurant.
Phone: +34 971 675 547 or +34 971 676 141 (Bistro)
Es Racó des Teix (1 star)
C/ Sa Vinya Vella 6,
Tel: +34 971 639 501
Open from February, 1st until November, 15 – Lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday
Es Molí den Bou (1 star)
Protur Sa Coma Playa Hotel & Spa****
Calle Liles s/n – 07560 Sa Coma – Mallorca
Tel: +34 971 569 663
Read’s Hotel – no longer holds a Michelin Star
Marc Fosh has since set-up a new restaurants in Palma:
Carrer de la Missió, 7A
Tel: +34 971 720 114
New Michelin Star Restaurants in 2012:
Restaurante Jardin (1 Star)
C/ Tritons, S/N
Tel: +34 971 892 391
Es Fum – St. Regis Mardavall
Passeig Calvia S/N
Costa d’en Blanes
Palma De Mallorca
Tel: +34 971 629 629
Restaurante Plat d´Or (No longer holds a Michelin Star)
Arabella Sheraton Golf & Spa Resort Son Vida
C/De la Vinagrella s/n
The Best Restaurants
The Best Restaurants on Mallorca is an insiders guide whether you are looking for a rural setting in the country-side or firstline to the sea - here you will find the best restaurants in Mallorca. [...]