February 19, 2024

Jesús Sánchez, chef of the Cantabrian restaurant with three Michelin stars Cenador de Amós.
Jesús Sánchez, chef of the Cantabrian restaurant with three Michelin stars Cenador de Amós.

Jesús Sánchez, chef of the three-star Cantabrian restaurant Cenador de Amós and of Madrid’s Amós, has received the 2022 National Hospitality Award. This is an award given by Hospitality of Spain —a business organization that includes more than 315,000 Spanish establishments in the industry — and values ​​those who are “an example for the sector for their contribution to magnifying the national hospitality industry and providing good role models”. “All recognition is motivation and pride, but in this case it is significant because it comes from colleagues in the sector,” says the chef in conversation with EL PAÍS a few minutes after learning about the award.

Cenador de Amós, with a Green Star since 2021 and three Repsol Suns, was the first restaurant in Cantabria to be awarded three Michelin stars. It was the only one in Spain to obtain that level in 2020, the critical year of the pandemic. A turbulent year that limited seasons and precipitated closures, but that did not end creativity.

“Our commitment is that everything we do is brilliant.” She is the maxim of chef Jesús Sánchez and Marián Martínez Pereda, his life partner and restaurant manager, conductor of a team that follows the maxims of Japanese hospitality, a omotenashi in northern Spain. Sánchez and his wife, parents of two daughters, embarked on a gastronomic adventure in 1993 in Villaverde de Pontones, a small and charming town in surfing Cantabria that today is an international gastrotourism destination.

At the tables of the eighteenth-century palatial mansion that houses the restaurant, some exquisite gardens and a large orchard, a showcase of local products and traveling sensibility dazzles. Balanced risk. Sophistication without losing the rural identity. Unconditional love for the vegetables of the land that gave birth to the chef and the extraordinary Cantabrian pantry of sea and mountains, whose charms are provided by the local producers with whom they deal, without intermediaries. The exquisite anchovy, the seductive meat of the native Tudanca cow, the bonito del Norte, the pasiega butter… are ingredients that always shine on the menu, to which is added the artisan bread from the wood-fired oven that the restaurant owns. “Complex essentiality” is the concept that the restaurant managers want their diners to perceive.

Pigeon heart.  Plate of Jesus Sanchez.
Pigeon heart. Plate of Jesus Sanchez.ROSA RIVAS

In 2023 the 30th anniversary of the existence of the Cenador de Amós will be fulfilled. Three decades of tenacity and nonconformity. And next month it will be a year since he landed in Madrid, at the Rosewood Villamagna hotel, at the Amós restaurant, a synthesis of the Cantabrian essence that Jesús Sánchez cooks. “Our presence in Madrid has contributed to gaining more notoriety at a national level”, he proudly admits.

The Cantabrian chef of Navarre origin (Azagra, 1964) is living a sweet moment, with a professional and personal menu full of projects. “There are events that converge, push us and give us more strength,” he acknowledges. He just released an author book, Arbor of Amos. Cantabrian spirit (Montagud), which tells the story of the restaurant and its protagonists and is full of sensations and recipes. “Jesus is the type of people from whom you always learn, about cooking and about life. Tireless worker, focused on his home and his things”, says Dabiz Muñoz in the prologue, who likes “his gastronomic offer full of flavour, with connections to the essence of the land, treated with ingenuity, skill and great respect”. .

Before the end of the year, Sánchez will shake up a new edition of Santander Foodie, an event that he has promoted since 2019. From December 2 to 4, a dynamic gastronomic meeting open to the public will be held in the Cantabrian capital with workshops, tastings, talks and culinary demonstrations, covered by figures of contemporary cuisine.

Hake pie with razor clams and ajoblanco, by Jesús Sánchez.
Hake pie with razor clams and ajoblanco, by Jesús Sánchez.RR

In addition to cooking, Jesús Sánchez has another passion, photography. Black and white lover, Leica in hand, he is embarking on the adventure Chef’s look. With protagonists of the national and international culinary scene, colleagues “who are paving the way and are a reference”, the chef will record experiences and inspiring moments, moments of the trade and the environment. The portraits will be part of an exhibition in mid-2023 in Madrid.

The Hospitality Awards, which are being announced these days, will be delivered in Madrid on October 28. They have the participation of the territorial associations of Hospitality in Spain and recognize those who “bet on promoting and improving the sector, building its future from excellence, innovation and dedication”. They highlight the work of establishments, companies and institutions that “have excelled in aspects such as innovation, social responsibility, support for culture or sustainability”.

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