The Big Apple takes a bite of Madrid

Three-Michelin-starred chef David Muñoz heads up team showing off Spanish talent in NYC

DiverXo chef David Muñoz at the New York Marathon.
DiverXo chef David Muñoz at the New York Marathon.

New York will get the chance to discover what Madrid tastes like this week. Always hungry for new experiences, the global food mecca is hosting a group of chefs “who represent the talent of Madrid cuisine,” in the words of David Muñoz, owner of the Spanish capital’s three-Michelin-star DiverXo restaurant.

Spain’s newest gastronomic guru, Muñoz has handpicked a team who will prepare meals at a number of innovative New York restaurants over the course of seven days.

Óscar Velasco, the chef at Santceloni Hesperia, will develop a menu for Betony; Estanis Carenzo, of Sudestada, Chifa and Picsa, will man the stoves at City Grit and Contra, while the three-chef team at Triciclo – Javier Goya, Javier Mayor and David Alfonso – will cook at City Grit for two nights.

Muñoz himself has developed a 10-course menu in tandem with chef Matt Lightner at the two-Michelin-star Atera.

“We developed five dishes each, but they’re not two separate menus,” he explains. “It was about coming up with something that will make people feel they are experiencing something unique: a menu created jointly by David Muñoz and Matt Lightner that makes sense, is coherent, and will probably never happen again.”

David Muñoz, a self-confessed workaholic who began a strict exercise program that saw him lose 25 kilos last year, began his New York experience last Sunday by running in the city’s marathon, which he completed in three hours, 31 minutes and 41 seconds.

The next day, he got straight down to business at Atera, an establishment that, like all the others on the list, he picked because of its “philosophy.”

“There has to be a consistency between the restaurant we are coming from and the one that’s going to host us,” says Muñoz, 34. “We tried to ensure they are compatible. They don’t need to be doing the same things, not even close. Sudestada’s chef will be cooking at Contra, which has nothing to do with his restaurant, but their philosophies are very similar. Same with Atera, which has nothing to do with DiverXO, yet it was perfect because everything there is guided by creativity and by ideas of their own based on inventiveness and talent. And that is DiverXo too.”

The trip to New York has a clear goal: to show off Madrid’s gastronomic talent. Muñoz is also planning to set up a branch of his creative tapas bar StreetXo there after a successful opening in London.

“It’s about showing that Madrid cuisine is much more than just tapas, paella and chorizo. We are going to use a much broader, more alternative approach, and this involves a halo of modernity that a city like New York is going to understand fantastically well,” says Muñoz, who personally put the Spanish capital on the world food map when he earned his third Michelin star for DiverXo last year.

“That provided amazing exposure,” he admits. “It’s not the same coming on a promotional tour to New York with an ambassador named David Muñoz who has two Michelin stars, as it is with an ambassador named David Muñoz who has three Michelin stars. The exposure has grown twentyfold. It is very important for Madrid to have someone to show off what is going on there at the moment. All these new restaurants are opening up that are full of talent, talent, talent and good food, good food, good food, and the premises themselves become a secondary issue. The world needs to know about this.”