Everything has a beginning and everything has an end. From one of the most amazing parts in my life so far when traveling around from region to region, from town to town exploring Spain. From one extraordinary product to another and from one great dinner to another. I should need a hole book to explain what we have been a part of the last couple of weeks. I’m Christofer Johansson, from Sweden.
But there´s no room for that so how does it sound like to visit almost all regions and mayor cities in a country? How does it sound like to have dinner in Michelin-starred restaurants almost every day and meet all the chefs? How does it sound like to visit world know producers and wineries? Add to that lots of historical visits, culture, cookingclasses and much much more. Also add a bunch of young chefs from all over the world and you can imagine how it is. I can tell because I´m a part of what today probably is the most amazing experience you can do as a young chef. But as I said – everything has an end and I just reached the end of a part that never will come back. A part that always will be a memory.
And when the end now is reached a beginning will start. The beginning at restaurant Atrio in city of Caceres which will be my home for the next three months. But the beginning couldn’t be worse when a misunderstanding caused that some of us missed our trains in Madrid. With panic and frustration realize that we now were standing in Madrid station without speaking proper Spanish and with lots of heavy luggage. Some of us were more lucky than others because new trains depart very soon. My next train then was almost seven hours later and I had to wait at the station. Time had never ran so slow before and I tried to kill hour after hour by either drinking coffe, walking around or studying some Spanish words. When the train then finally arrived I had almost four new hours to kill. I was so tired that I couldn´t keep my eyes open so with a great list of Angus & Julia Stone in my ears I fell in sleep. When I woke up I was quite close to Cáceres and outside it had turned into dark.
I arrived to the station where I was picked up by one of the chefs. A short stop at his apartment, leaving the luggage, which will also be my home for the next couple of months before we drove to the restaurant. I was a bit nervous, mainly because of my Spanish, but also because I didn´t know what to expect. Should I like the place and the people I will work with? Should they take care of me or should it maybe be a new period in a Michelin starred restaurant were people being treated not very well, which I´ve been part of earlier in my carrier? I knew that the restaurant was moved three months ago to a completely restored place and with two Michelin stars and five star hotel nothing could be wrong? I entered an historic building but restored into a modern hotel and restaurant with a mix of the original stones and new oak wood and some parts painted in white. The mix of the new and the old was amazing and the inside even more amazing. A brand new kitchen so well organized and with all equipment you can wish for. A dining area with classic designed Scandinavian furniture and perfect matched in natural colors. A tour around the restaurant, through some of the hotel rooms and down to one of the most amazing wine cellars I ever been in. What about a rare bottle of 1809 Chateau Y´quem for 150 000 euros!
Everything I so far have seen have been amazing and it didn´t became worse when I ended up in the bar with Toño and José with a glass of champagne and some snacks. A very warm welcome at my first day in the restaurant. A welcome that is not common in our business so from this moment I´m completely convinced that I will have three great months here at restaurant Atrio. So here I´m, a young Swedish chef from the countryside exploring Spanish gastronomy, how did that happened?