George Mendes is chef of the New York restaurant Aldea, where he serves an Iberia-inspired menu inflected with what he calls a “global palate.” After gigs at Wallsé and Bouley, and apprenticing at Martin Berasategui , he tried to do a full stage at elBulli, but wasn’t accepted at the time. Three years later, though, when he was between jobs (he had just left his position as chef de cuisine at Toqueville) he managed to convince chef de cuisine Albert Raurich to take him on for a few weeks before he went back to New York and opened Aldea.
How did you feel when you finally made it to elBulli?
The air there was so thick with intensity and creativity. And it was really hectic the first couple of times during service—everyone was so energetic and hungry, in the athletic sense. I thought, “Holy shit. I can’t believe I’m really here.”
What did you find most striking or surprising about the kitchen there?
The organization of it all. Considering how long that tasting menu is, the amount of chaos it could generate is astonishing. All the clients come in at more or less the same time. There’s food coming out of three or four places at a time. But it’s all so organized. Read the rest of this entry »