October 25, 2018
At the age of 41, and after the commendable effort of offering haute cuisine in a city as complicated as Jaén, Pedro Sánchez, Pedrito to his friends and acquaintances, finally found a restaurant that suited him; one that was in line with his honesty, consistency and humility.
There, in a small and simple, cosy place, somewhat hidden away, behind the church of San Ildefonso in the heart of the city, is Bagá (meaning olive flower in Arabic); a space with a tiny dining room of just three tables and a small bar for fifteen people at the most.
He studied at the Hacienda la Laguna School in Baeza and did internships in France, with Martín Berasategui, and at Tragabuches (during Dani García’s time there); he was head chef at Casa Antonio (in Jaén), where, thanks to his 16 years at the helm in the kitchen, he left his hallmark sense of aesthetics, his remarkable taste and good technique. More than enough time to bring an experimental phase to an end and go in search of his life’s dream: to put the cuisine of his homeland on Spain’s gastronomic map, something that he has amazingly achieved in just fifteen months, from when he opened Bagá (15 September, 2017) to the time when the Michelin Guide said ‘the word’.
No one should come here looking for an abuse of traditional cuisine with a hint of imagination because Bagá is a place where age-old flavours are extolled thanks to his erudite, sensitive and virtuous cooking. His masterful technique, sensitivity, extreme elegance and pure flavours prevail in a cuisine – based on humble recipes – that reaches extraordinarily high levels of perfection.
Pedro Sánchez is an artist who takes risks from beginning to end and knows how to stamp originality on everything he offers. And the best thing is that ‘everything that seems so, is so’ as the restaurant’s website says, because ‘from any point in our dining room you can see what our guys are doing in the kitchen, and where nothing is left to improvisation.’
After enjoying his complex and effortless cuisine, no one can say they have been deprived of feeling Jaén at Espacio Gastronómico de «Pedrito» [Pedrito’s Gastronomic Space]. You just have to quieten your soul for the flavours to remain eternal.
By Juan Antonio Díaz