A great loss: Spanish chef Santi Santamaria died

Today, the culinary world was stunned to hear that Spanish chef Santi Santamaria passed away suddenly while in Singapore visiting one of his restaurants. At 53, Santamaria was a major force in Spanish cuisine and his restaurants had seven Michelin stars, three of which were for his Barcelona restaurant, El Raco de Can Fabes.

Spanish chef Juan Mari Arzak told El Pais Santamaria’s death is “a great loss for the Spanish cuisine”. Fellow Spaniard and Washington, DC chef José Andrés declared him “one of the best chefs in the history of the world!” and Los Angeles chef Michael Voltaggio said “one of the best things I’ve ever eaten was from his hands.” French food critic Francois Simon says “He may have been a bull in a China shop, but he was a very interesting bull.”

One of a generation of chefs who brought Spanish cuisine to the attention of international gourmets, Santamaria prided himself on using natural, seasonal ingredients to make Mediterranean-style dishes.

Born in Sant Celoni, outside Barcelona, Santamaria opened Can Fabes in 1981. By 1994, the restaurant had become the first in Spain to attain three Michelin stars. He owned three other restaurants in Spain which also garnered Michelin stars.

Author of some 10 books on cooking, Santamaria was awarded Spain’s National Gastronomy Prize in 2009.

He clashed with Spanish culinary guru Ferran Adria and other chefs who brought high-tech methods to Spanish cuisine, arguing they used the same potentially unhealthy additives as hamburger joints. The criticism came to a head when he published his book “La Cocina al Desnudo” (The Naked Kitchen) in 2008.

Back then an international association of chefs, called Euro-toques, which 3,500 members from 18 countries, including 800 in Spain that also included Adria, issued a statement accusing Santamaria of trying to gain publicity and alarming consumers unnecessarily. It said the additives used in Adria-style cooking were legal and safe. Santimaria shot back, demanding that chefs specify what ingredients they use.

Death Comes for the Traditionalist: Chef Santi Santamaria (1957-2011) (Time)

· Dueling Spanish Chefs [Gourmet]

· Famed El Bulli Chef Ferran Adria Accused of ‘Poisoning’ His Diners [Telegraph]

· Chef Santi Santamaria Dies in Singapore [El Pais]

Sources: http://news.yahoo.com/ and http://eater.com/

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