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Dazzling Stars of Spanish Cuisine

[caption id="attachment_2315" align="alignright" width="300"] El Lago Restaurant in Elviria[/caption] The air was heady with expectation, the guests resplendent in their gala finery, and the rich aromas already starting to waft from a veritable celebrity kitchen. Finally, the announcement came. The Costa del Sol’s four current Michelin-star restaurants had all maintained their status, although no new establishments joined the elite club. The occasion was the annual gala to present the new (2015) Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal and to reveal the “winners” and possible “losers”. For the first time in its history, the event was held outside Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao. Marbella won the right to host the gala, staving off fierce competition from the Galician capital, Santiago de Compostela (which is said to be a strong favourite to secure next year’s event), and Los Monteros Hotel was the chosen venue – specifically its luxurious La Cabane beach club. Los Monteros was, in fact, the first hotel in Spain to gain a Michelin star for its El Corzo restaurant. [caption id="attachment_2311" align="alignright" width="300"] Dani García Restaurant in Marbella[/caption] Three hundred guests attended the gala, with invitations limited to the chefs of two and three-star Michelin restaurants, as well as the Michelin team, local authorities and national media representatives. After the official presentation of the guide, they were treated to a sumptuous feast prepared by the head chefs of the Coast’s Michelin-star restaurants joined by Ángel León from Aponiente in Puerto Santa María (Cádiz province) – popularly known as the “Chef of the Sea”. The reasons behind León’s special invitation became apparent when he was awarded a second star, thus joining García and his eponymous restaurant in Hotel Puente Romano. Their restaurants are the only two in Andalucía with two Michelin stars, and none have three. García’s previous restaurant, Calima, had received its first star in 2007, and a coveted second one three years later. Earlier this year he closed that down and moved to his new venue on Marbella’s Golden Mile. [caption id="attachment_2309" align="alignleft" width="200"] Two stars for Ángel León[/caption] Joining him in the La Cabane kitchen was Diego del Río from El Lago restaurant at Greenlife Golf (at the eastern end of Marbella municipality), which received its first star in 2005, and has maintained it every year since; Jaume Puigdengolas, chef at Skina in Marbella’s old town, holder of a coveted star since 2008; and José Carlos García from the restaurant of his own name in Málaga city. Among the authorities present in Marbella was secretary of state for tourism Isabel Borrego, who noted that 30 per cent of tourists visiting Málaga province did so with gastronomy as their main motive, compared with 12 per cent in the whole of Spain. Andalucian minister for tourism Rafael Rodríguez added that gastronomy was no longer a complementary attraction for people deciding on a holiday destination, but rather a key issue in their deliberations; while Marbella mayoress Ángeles Muñoz praised the municipality’s chefs as “ambassadors of quality and our tourism brand”. And as for the attending chefs and their award-winning restaurants? Well, there was a huge collective sigh of relief at the top table when all current three-star establishments maintained their ratings: Arzak, Akelarre, Azurmendi and Martín Berasategui in the Basque Country; El Celler de Can Roca (which currently holds top spot in the authoritative The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna) and Sant Pol de Mar in Cataluña; flamboyant chef David Muñoz’s DiverXO in Madrid; and Quique Dacosta in Alicante. [caption id="attachment_2313" align="alignleft" width="300"] Number one in the world: El Celler de Can Roca[/caption] There were also smiles all round on the “second table”, with the existing two-star restaurants escaping unscathed, and being joined by the aforementioned Aponiente – now 17 establishments in all. Nineteen restaurants gained their first Michelin recognition, bringing the total throughout Spain, with at least one star, to 183. [caption id="attachment_2305" align="alignright" width="300"] Gourmet entertaining in Elviria[/caption] Back in Marbella, it is not only tourists who have discovered the culinary delights of the area but also thousands of property owners who have decided to settle on the Coast or buy a holiday home. If that dream is still on your wish-list, what better place to start than Elviria – close to the picturesque lakeside setting of the Michelin-star El Lago restaurant – and this ultra-contemporary mansion in Elviria, a stunning starting point to welcome family and friends for a cocktail and aperitif before heading to El Lago, or taking a short taxi ride into Marbella. Click here to see more.