Empire of Kike Dacosta. Haute cuisine
You will probably say that you don’t have to be a great mind to write notes to write about a cook whose only restaurant on the Costa Blanca has the highest rating and three Michelin stars. But for our family, this restaurant means a lot and for a long time was a standard of taste, but it was he who did not have three stars at the time of our acquaintance with Kike Dacosta. We immediately appreciated the phenomenal sensitivity and subtlety of details, design, atmosphere. Not too pathetic, somewhat pleasantly provincial, but with great respect for products, wine and guests. The necessary three conditions were present there: the administrator of the hall with great charm, a sense of humor and knowledge of the laws of the kitchen and several languages, the chef and the chief of the kitchen, the wine list and the ability to recommend the right wine. A fourth participant is still desirable: an upscale pastry chef. Without this “attack” line, the success of the restaurant is doubtful. And this is only the tip, the leadership. To make everything perfect when serving dishes, you need a big team. Sometimes in gourmet restaurants it comes to the point of absurdity: for example, a hall for 40 seats, that is, a restaurant can accept no more than 40 guests at a time, and a team in the kitchen of 50 people or more. This is something like a sport where there are more players on the field than fans in the stadium. Or something like an army where there are more generals than soldiers. But this happens, although now gourmet restaurants are very concerned about the economy and seek to optimize costs.
Back to Kike Dacosta. He is now only 46 years old, and he looks respectable at his age. But when almost ten years ago we met him at a gastronomic exhibition, he looked much older than his years, he was very serious and tired: victories in the restaurant business are very difficult. Everyone thinks that Kike Dacosta is Valencian, because he always speaks on behalf of Denia and Valencia and has long become the “face” of the products and traditions of the cuisine of this region. But actually he was born in Cáceres, Extremadura. Parents divorced, and the teenager went to see his mother, who worked as a waitress in the resort of Denia. She arranged a guy to wash the dishes. Kike Dacosta said that when asked by the owner what he knows how to do in the kitchen, he could only say that he knows how to run, because he had no idea about the work of the kitchen. Kike Dacosta was lucky: the atmosphere of the pizzeria where he started working, and the restaurant El Poblet, where he continued to work after leaving school, was correct.
The work of the restaurant team is always difficult, but often charged with cheerful turmoil and courage. Three brothers and their families owned El Poblet, and they all invested a lot of soul and energy in the restaurant. Kike did everything in the kitchen, but most closely watched the work of the cooks. He remained self-taught, developing from books and consulting with colleagues. We first visited his restaurant, which is now called by his name, and until 2008 worked as El Poblet, around 2000. The menu then cost half as much as today, and Michelin stars were also smaller. Thank God, we have already gained a decent experience of visiting gourmet restaurants in order to properly appreciate the cuisine of Kike Dacosta.
In Russia, with high cuisine is difficult: it does not take root. Balancing on the brink of haute cuisine is difficult for a Russian person: he either slides into too plentiful food, which is incompatible with serving haute cuisine, or requires an understandable taste and is not ready for experimentation. And in general, we often have access to a restaurant – this is a trip to people, not food. The only chef who fought for haute cuisine in Russia is Anatoly Komm, a veteran of this struggle. And the only Russian chef with a Michelin star, which he, however, received in Geneva. So Anatoly Comm said that there are many Michelin stars, thousands of chefs deserve them, but here are the chefs, whose food he can determine blindly, because only they, units in the world, and Kike Dacosta among them can cook it.
My wife and I immediately and forever remembered the “caliber”, something like mousse or foie gras paste with rum, and this dish is now one of Kike’s calling cards. There was also an assortment of outlandish leaves of the greenery that grows around Denia, and which you yourself would not have thought of eating. Each weed or leaf has its own sauce. And also red prawns from Denia. Kike Dacosta then made a film about how and where the fishermen of Denia catch these red shrimps, which would be more appropriate to call “gold”, because a kilogram costs about 200 euros. Their taste is so charged with iodine and sea that our friends, whom we invited to the Dakosta restaurant, could hardly eat this dish, although it consisted of … one shrimp, its taste was so concentrated. We remembered the foie gras of unusual texture, airy and dense at the same time, very surprising for us at that time. We asked about the recipe, and Kike said we need to be patient: the liver is cooked for a long time at a low temperature – then this was a discovery for us.