Cartajima chef awarded Michelin star

His ambition was to get a star in two years. He achieved that dream in just nine months!

Baltasar from Cartajima

While Baltasar’s wife was growing their son, he was heading for the stars. Not just Michelin’s “Rising Star” category but One Star. It’s fantastic news that young Baltasar, who was in put in charge of Martin Berasatagui’s new restaurant (Santo by Martin Berasatagui) in downtown Sevilla has, after only nine months, been awarded a Michelin star. Well done, Balta!

It probably helped that the eponymous Martin, for whom Baltasar has worked since 2002, is known to Michelin’s top-secret inspectors. He has more Michelin stars than any other Spanish chef and is a household name here in Spain. Baltasar was in their sights before Santo opened.

santo

I don’t wish to detract from this remarkable achievement of a 29 year-old Cartajimeño. We are all proud of him and applaud his dedication to his art – his wife tells me he goes to sleep thinking about how to arrange a plate and he reads cookery books constantly. The Michelin star is an accolade of which Cartajima is proud although this unknown village does not get the credit – the press always call him a Rondeño, Ronda being so much better known than this tiny village in the Andalucian mountains.

stack and splatter

Which plays into my pondering how many unsung chefs there are hidden away in remote places. Those secret Michelin inspectors, more anonymous than the SAS, cannot go everywhere; they must have a departure point.Vianne’s chocolate shop in Chocolat comes to mind and I wonder if, were it a restaurant, would Michelin have found her tucked away in that tiny French village? Would they have found Baltasar in Cartajima?

My other preoccupation is our 21st century relationship with food as entertainment. I fear we forget sometimes how fortunate we are considering that our ancestors would have spent much of their lives just feeding themselves. And we have edible art – what we call in our family “stack and splatter”.

Recent guests of Los Castanos enjoyed Baltasar’s mother’s simple Andalucian cooking here in the village and then dined at Santo during their stay in Sevilla. They described him as “adorable” and his cuisine as “beyond incredible”.

About Michelin inspectors