October 3, 2018
Javi Estévez is a culinary professional who has achieved, barely halfway through his thirties, what for many takes a lifetime to do: define his cuisine with a personal mark that any foodie can identify; find his own niche within the massive culinary offer of a city like Madrid in which everything is possible.
He studied at the Hospitality and Catering School of Galicia, finishing – fully qualified – over fifteen years ago, and started on the first rungs of his career by doing internships at restaurants with very defined personalities, such as El Tragabuches, in Ronda, and El Bohío, in Illescas.
Both are enormously prestigious, although far removed from the glitter and the metaphysics of three-starred restaurants.
Following that first period, he began his career as a cook at the restaurant Villena, in Segovia, guided by Julio Reoyo. Two years later, he became a well-known face for television audiences all over Spain when he came fifth in the first edition of the programme Top Chef, and helping Begoña Rodrigo to win the title in the final.
It is true that that brought him a certain amount of fame. As true as what happened afterwards in his career, for which he owes nothing at all to television: If there is anything that has earned him the attention and support of the public and food critics alike, it has been his cooking. A daring and bold reinterpretation, yet also imaginative and very technical, of offal: an aspect of our cuisine that nobody – before he opened La Tasquería, in Madrid – had dared to situate as the overall protagonist of an avant-garde culinary offer with attention paid to every detail, and one that is flavoursome and modern.
Upcoming Chef award winner in 2016 at Madrid Fusión, the visceral cuisine of his eatery has continued to garner a range of awards and recognitions since it opened. And, what is much more important, is that the restaurant is full every day, putting this cook in the privileged position of being able to explore new approaches. Not to mention, more specifically, another ‘cuisine’ that is as popular and authentic as that of offal: sandwiches.
In this case, his eatery is called John Barrita. Now two years old,
it has become a new indisputable success based on the reinvention of the sandwich. How? Via his partnership with the Peruvian-born baker John Torres, owner of La Panotheca bakeries. The initial conjuring trick from which so many magical sandwiches emerged came about thus: What would happen if we took traditional sandwiches and made them with high-quality culinary fillings and equally good bread, with the right texture for each variety to create a winning combination?
And the result of what happened is fantastic. That’s why John Barrita, just like La Tasquería, is doing brilliantly.
By Miguel Ángel Rincón