Gastronomy awards are always good for finding out which restaurants, wine producers, chefs, etc. are considered the best by other professionals in the business. So we always keep an eye out for whose names are on the awards list at the Diario de Avisos-Dorada Especial Gastronomy Awards Gala, an event which recognises innovation and passion in the world of food and drink in the Canary Islands.
This year, like every other, there are some interesting award winners. Here’s who’ll be picking up the prizes at the 2019 ceremony in El Sauzal next month.
Best Restaurant – El Taller Seve Díaz, Puerto de la Cruz
Seve Díaz is having a really good week, El Taller Seve Díaz also being chosen as one of the top ten restaurants in Spain in Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards, a list which included the likes of the Celler de Can Roca and Martin Berasategui. We’ve tried the degustación (taster) menu there a couple of times and have thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience, the food being inventive without keeling over into pretentiousness.
Best Head Chef – Jorge Peñate, Meliá Palacio de Isora
Best Head Chef award goes to Jorge Peñate who is in charge of the cuisine at La Terrace in the Meliá Palacio de Isora in Alcalá. Jorge specialises in fish and seafood, especially from the waters around the Canary Islands and has been creating high end cuisine for some time on Tenerife. Before taking up position at the Meliá Palacio de Isora he worked at Las Aguas in the Bahía del Duque and also at Las Rocas jutting out above the sea at the Jardín Tropical.
Best Maître d’ – Jaquelin Rivero
In Spanish the award is for Mejor Labor en Sala, which doesn’t translate well, but as the winner is Jaquelin Rivero, maître d’ of the Gamonal Group, it sounds less clunky to use maître d’ in the title. Jaquelin wins the award due to his ability to professionally organize and carry out catering events for large numbers of diners.
Manuel Iglesias Award – Teobaldo Méndez
A special award goes to the founder of El Aderno, whose factory is located in Buenavista del Norte but which now has shops selling delectable chocolates and cakes all across Tenerife. We first encountered El Aderno in Los Silos (there’s no longer a shop there) and were seduced by the inventive sweets on display… and by its chocolate cave (more a cooled, enclosed room). We’ve been fans ever since, regularly having indulged in an El Aderno hit of mojito cake, or handmade chocolates sprinkled with gofio. El Aderno revolutionised confectionery on Tenerife.
Best Kitchen Without Combustion – Gyotaku, Puerto de la Cruz
This is another award which doesn’t translate easily into English. It’s a new award for restaurants with a low carbon footprint as it’s all to do with a minimal use of heat in the cooking process, and products which are sourced locally – basically zero miles gastronomy. The food also has to be innovative and delicious of course. We don’t know Gyotaku, a Japanese restaurant tucked away at the Tigaiga Suites, but it’s now on our list of places to try.
Best Canarian Cuisine – La Salamandra, La Gomera
Located on Calle Real in La Gomera’s capital San Sebastián, La Salamandra was like a breath of fresh air when we ate there back in 2012. It had a menu which was different from all the other restaurants in the town; they served modern versions of traditional cuisine using seasonal products. These are common now, less so back then, especially on La Gomera. It looks as though it’s gone from strength to strength since, establishing itself as one of the top Canarian restaurants in the Canary Islands. La Salamandra is currently located in a restored Canarian house (a different location from when we ate there), but there are plans for another move, just along the street to Plaza de la Constitución.
Special Gold Award – Allende, Gran Canaria
Another special award goes to the Allende Group for their passion for gastronomy and quality of the food they serve in their restaurants. Their base is Gran Canaria where the group has five restaurants (Puerto, Triana, Muelle, 22 degrees, and Basal Grill and Beach). They’ve now taken the flavours of the Canary Islands to Madrid as well, at their La Cecilia de Allende restaurant.
Best Cake Shop – Princess Free Heart, La Laguna
This is one for people who like cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. Free Heart in La Laguna make sweet things to order, or as they put it – “Art and love in the kitchen. We love things B O N I T A S. We design, savour and create home made pastries for gifts, parties, and whims satisfaction.”
Best Wine Producer – Victoria Torres, La Palma
Finally, our favourite winner of them all as it’s a Canarian wine producer who is unusual (in that she’s a woman in a business dominated by men) and who is utterly delightful. We met and interviewed Victoria at her bodega in Fuencaliente on La Palma a few years ago and were completely captivated by her open charm and enthusiasm for what she does. It’s great to see Bodega Matías i Torres rise to such giddy heights as having their wine served in one of the top restaurants in the world, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona.