Michelin-star restaurants in Spain echo the “healthy” trend

Marta Burgues

Michelin-starred chefs in Spain join the global "healthy" trend and create equally delicious menus with specific ingredients to maintain and improve health.

The act of practicing a healthy lifestyle has taken the world by storm, resulting in Michelin star chefs from all over the world to create menus with quality, healthy, ecological and local ingredients.

Below we will review several Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain that focus on offering healthy options, with menus catering to an array of patrons including omnivores, vegans and ovo-lacto vegetarians.

Chilled consommé from 2014, roe and cuckooflower dish from Mugaritz. Photo: José Luis López de Zubiría.

To date Spain currently has 174 Michelin star restaurants, making it the fifth-highest country with Michelin stars in the world. The main force behind the country’s gastronomical success, according to various chefs in Spain, is the use of local products being mixed with spices from other countries.

One restaurant in particular that has made a splash across Spain’s gastronomy scene is Mugaritz, in Guipúzcoa, a two-star restaurant that mixes tradition with new and innovative concepts. Since opening its doors in 1998, the restaurant has focused it efforts on experimenting with plants, vegetables and flowers. To pursue new gastronomical experiments, restaurant staff go several times a week to nearby mountains to collect wild plants for potential dishes. The restaurant’s chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz, who belongs to the Tufts Nutrition Council of Tufts University, an interdisciplinary group formed by international leaders who share an interest in nutrition and health, researches and reviews different local products before they are included in dishes at the restaurant.

Verduras asadas y crudas brotes y hojas silvestres y cultivadas aliñadas con mantequilla avellana y salpicadas de semillas y pétalos. FOTO José Luis López de Zubiría restaurante Mugaritz
Roasted and raw vegetables, sprouts and wild and cultivated leaves dish from Mugaritz. Photo: José Luis López de Zubiría

Another restaurant that has gained recognition across Spain for its use of local products is three-star Azurmendi, near Bilbao. The restaurant, which has locations in Tokyo and London, was conceived by chef Eneko Atxa and focuses its dishes around the idea of sustainability. In the restaurant’s gardens, Eneko grows vegetables from the area and is committed to hiring suppliers that only serve local products. Some of the restaurants most notable dishes include: fermented apple, Cornetto of spices, curd of herbs and a vegetable smoothie with blue fish and a sorbet of green pods and apple.

Restaurante Azurmendi
Red fruits, basil, and Etxano cheese, ice cream, yogurt, honey, and five spices, chocolate, peanuts, and licorice from Azurmendi restaurant. Photo: Azurmendi Restaurant.

“Céleri,” a Michelin-star restaurant created by Barcelonian chef, Xavier Pellicer has also contributed to Spain’s healthy food scene despite closing its doors not too long ago. The restaurant, which started as a personal project by the chef in the center of Barcelona, went on to become a biodynamic kitchen, that solely used healthy, ecological and local products to create a healthy kitchen, with a focus on finding a balance between the pleasure of ingestion and the well-being of digestion.

As a result, the restaurant frequently used items such as beets, tomatoes, cherries gazpacho, red lentil hummus, cauliflower mash and potatoes with green beans in its dishes and offered an extensive menu of biodynamic, ecological and natural wines, composed of 55 references from all over Europe. The restaurant also offered three exclusive menus for vegan, ovo-lacto vegetarians and omnivorous clients, in “In the case of the omnivore menu, the protein never exceeds 30% of the total dish,” said Pellicer.

Restaurante Moments
Dish from the tasting menu of Moments restaurant that aims to recreate the world of opera in twelve pieces.

Moments, a two-star Michelin-star restaurant run by chef Carme Ruscalleda and her son Raül Balam in the exclusive 5 star GL Mandarin Oriental hotel on the famous Passeig de Gràcia, offers creative, fresh and healthy cuisine inspired by the Catalan culinary culture. The restaurant, which offers an “Opera” menu until January, features dishes such as Maria Callas, which has prawns, lentils, dill and American sauce, or the Norma, with aubergine, basil and dashi, or the Wagner, with montagnolo, beet, black lemon and piquillo.

In the same vein as the other restaurants that have been reviewed so far, two-star Les Cols, a mountain restaurant in Catalonia, Gerona, by chef Fina Puigdevall, focuses its dishes around nature and fresh products picked from the garden. The former country house, which was converted into a gastronomic space of high avant-garde, has an organic cuisine that includes dishes such as a canapé of apricot, radish, tomato seed, grilled lettuce with wild mustard, cucumber and natural sorbet, or seasonal flowers.

Restaurante El Invernadero
Vegetable-centric dish from El Invernadero Restaurant.

Lastly, in Madrid, chef Rodrigo de la Calle crafts vegetable-centric dishes at his restaurant “El Invernadero.” With one Michelin star, this restaurant offers a menu focused on vegetables and mushrooms, and only uses animal protein as seasoning in the form of juices, broths, dairy products and fats. As a result, all vegetables for dishes are sourced from nearby orchards and are created with the idea of offering patrons an exquisite and above all healthy menu. ■

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