Rafa Zafra: «There is no room like the one we are riding in El Palace»

Rafa Zafra: «There is no room like the one we are riding in El Palace»

David Salvador 26/1/2022Comentarios

Finding a hole on Rafa Zafra's agenda is as difficult as booking in your restaurant."That's why we open at the Palace Hotel," he explains after granting an hour of talk in which to review the near future and state of the nation.Does not escape questions aboutMichelin, product cost, Barcelona's image or equipment management, fundamental piece for the current growth of your company."Although what I am really doing is retaining the talent of the people of my team giving them opportunities.".Among other openings, he prepares that of a marsquery-cervereía in Seville and that of the restaurant of the mythical hotel complex Barcelona, "the place that Barcelona now needs".

I get lost.How many regent restaurants?

"Estimate Barcelona, estimate Madrid and Casa Jondal, now closed".


“In this 2022 we open a seafood-cherry store in Seville, a place in which we have a lot of illusion and that I also open to see my parents, because if I am not going to work I do not see them.Thus I kill two birds with a shot: do something in Seville, which is my city, and see my parents and friends.In addition, we set up one thing that is very of the Sevillian idiosyncrasy recovering the idea of the seafood cooker.We will work a lot with the salt that each fish needs, professionalizing the techniques of the boiled, cooked and steam.A very beautiful language that until now was not written.And we want to have the largest seafood showcase in Spain ".

A lot of money in stock I see there ...

"It's Seville and we want there to be a lot of rotation.It is a large, volume site.It will work".

Is it 100%yours?

“100% of mine are estimating Barcelona and estimating Madrid, and Casa Jondal, although with partners.What we always do is find the best travel companions.What is very difficult is to get only in the investment of a place, so we look for good colleagues to ensure location, which is what I now prioritize.If there is no location, I do nothing.And now the hotels have stayed with the best areas and do not know what to do with the bass ".

And the hotels want, as is the case of Seville, a seafood-crowd?

"It's not the most common.They usually want a gastronomic restaurant, something that gives them image and prestige, but in Seville they fell in love with the project ".

What business relationship do you hold with them?

"It depends on investments.Sometimes I pay a rental, sometimes business somewhat percent.What is clear is that in the projects in which I always direct the gastronomic part, in which I invest my money.It is true that the investments in the room are from the other party.Thus I also fallen in health.But it is not for not risking, since we sign for many years.It is because otherwise I could not have the locals that I want, those of the best locations ".

Like this ... (the interview is to estimate Barcelona, nestled in a street of just 20 meters and a width of 2 in the Barn Barcelona, on the side of the church of Santa María del Mar)

"That's why now I ask for location, because with the experience of estimating Barcelona I already learned ... it has been incredible but the location throws many people back.And that's what I have realized Madrid.There, with a perfect location, the restaurant works best ".

A lot of politician in Madrid?(Estimate Madrid is on a street of the Congress of Deputies)

"There are but not so much.More people are coming to power that is not political.To estimate Madrid.Important people come, it's true, especially because you can park right in front.There are the chauferes, which here (estimating Barcelona) is unthinkable.You do not get to the door, it is not easy to park ... and if you are half known to you a thousand times.I repeat, location ".

Looking for freedom and informality at the Palace Hotel in Barcelona

Rafa Zafra: «No hay en Barcelona una sala como la que estamos montando en el Palace»

For location that of the luxurious hotel Palace de la Gran Vía Barcelona, where you open shortly.

"It will be a different concept from Seville.One way to open and cook in a way that we could not estimate for our philosophy of simplicity, purity and sophistication hidden.It is not that I want to feel a cook again, because I have always felt it, but I do find that liberty kitchen point, of broader fan.There will be juices, sauces, elaborations and product, of course.And not only from the sea, although it will include 70-80% of the letter.We want to find a balance between what is the informality and casualization of the luxury of estimating and the classic and bourgeois thread that is expected of the hotel where we are.It will be a classic language past by the purity of estimating ".

And anything from Heart Ibiza?Those are two different worlds ...

“Something may appear, but spherical not, for example.In the palace there will be avant -garde but nuanced, well understood.The hidden sophistication that we always defend.I will simply have some more freedom.The limits will also be put by the same restaurant.It will be a curious mix.But I have already confirmed that it will be a much more Mediterranean place than French as you could expect.There will be room, of course, and you can remember that of Finance Benazuza ".

What timings do you work with?

"In spring they have to be both open".

Media tickets?The current one to estimate?

“Here (estimate Barcelona) we are in 120;In Madrid, in € 160.For Seville ... ".

For.With a similar letter and the same proposal, so much changes what is spent on each estimate?

"Madrid is a more festive city, spends more.And the theme of wine is important, there are more company meals ... In Madrid we have many customers who repeat three or four days a week and are customers who are doing very much their lives.Here (Barcelona), the customers who come the most do so once a month.There is more loyalty.Maybe the comfort of the site also helps.The location that commented.The Palace project, in part, is also because I know of good ink that many clients who would come to estimate Barcelona do not come because we are where we are.But the big difference right now is that in Madrid there is more life ".

We continue with the middle tickets.The Seville premises?

"It's a custom suit.Whoever wants to spend € 35 can do so, and whoever wants to pay tribute, too ".

The one of the palace?

"We want to open with a minimum ticket of € 80".

Will there be a tasting menu?

“For nada.I am against tasting in general.What we want is to loyalty customers, and you don't get it with the tasting menu, for my kitchen style ".


"Nope.I put myself in the client's place, not the chef.When I go as a client to a restaurant, I do it enough, I like to have freedom, and that I can ask for some things and my companion others.However, I understand that a chef is better expressed with a tasting menu, with a designed route.We do it for example in Heart, but I don't want it in my other businesses.I respect the restaurants that do it, and very well, but it is not our cooking style.And you would be surprised with the middle tickets.People want to spend whatever they want and have fun ".

Your style, you have commented, is that of dishes with a main and maximum three-four companion product.Is it still valid?

“As a philosophy to estimate, yes.In Seville he will continue but emphasize the subject sharing and informality.In the palace, as I tell you, there will be more freedom ".

You fancy?The experience of leaving the product molds, I say.

"Much.I am comfortable to estimate but make a new dish, with this philosophy that we comment, it costs me, and I want freedom ... ".

Who do you land at the Palace?How do you create the teams that lead your business?

"It's a vital issue for me.If I did not count on people in whom I trust as cooking or maitres, I would not embark on any project.They are all professionals who have been with us for some time and want to grow.And estimate is what it is, so these adventures are also good to give wings to these people.They are professionals who have shared with me in Heart, at the Benazuza hacienda, in Albert restaurants ... professionals in which I see potential but I cannot accommodate them in estimating for obvious reasons.In all the projects I undertake before the staff that the idea.I think of people rather than projects ".

Who will lead the Palace project?

“Gonzalo Fernández and Víctor García, Cooks and Passers of Tickets, Heart and Jondal.In the room, Poll Perelló (Director of the Bulli School room) will become part of the team, and will have a fundamental role with Anna (Gotanegra, his partner) and Ricardo (acquista).Ricardo was my second in Hacienda Benazuza, passed through Elbulli, we have been together all the time, in the restaurants of Albert Adrià, in Heart ... Ricardo did part of Madrid and at Casa Jondal ".


“I am looking for partners to expand clearly, but never only one for all businesses.Now, by the way, I have others with which I am working on other things ... ".

Seville, Barcelona and three more openings

All ears.

"We will do three more things this year of this level, but I cannot explain you anymore for now".

More projects?

“The good question would be: do you think you can with everything?He would answer you: Well no, but I know.I'm not afraid.I do it by illusion, for desire and because I do not spend on other things.I have no car, for example ".

The taxi sector must be grateful.

"If I opened something else in Madrid ...".

Are new projects in Madrid?

(Deaf ears) “If I opened something else in Madrid, Alberto Pacheco and Juanma Galán would join the family, as partners or in a certain way.They are those who now lead Madrid, my colleagues from fatigue.I see you hungry, they need more and if we do something new in Madrid they will be the ones who lead it ".

Your way of doing team and family.

"Before they leave, I have to offer something ... it is also the way to do horny things and help us live well.".

How many payroll do you pay today?

“130.Although now less, that Jondal is closed ".

How many payrolls will you pay at the end of 2022?

(It makes calculations on a sheet ...) “About 280."

Curves come.

“If you look, we are taking languages that until now were not exploited or professionalized at 100% gastronomically speaking.When I took estimate, we created a product language that did not exist.With the chiringuito of Ibiza, the same.There were many chiringuitos on the island but in the way we have done it, not so many.We gave it heat, we professionalized it, we spoil it ... Osti, good name, ‘pamper’. Apúntalo…".

Are you kidding me?Is that the name of any of your new businesses?

"Nope, no.It has come out now and I liked it.(With that Andalusian left you never know if he tends you hair ...) what he said: Seville, the same.We want to create something new with the team we have and with what we know about product and Sevillian culture.We want to make one of the best breweries-marisquerías in Spain. En general, todo lo que hagamos será mejorar una propuesta, reinventarla".

I see you very up.Michelin.

“If you ask me if I am going to chase the star in the palace, I would tell you that I do not know. Vamos a hacer una cocina cachonda, vamos a tener una gran sala…".

Well look ...

"It may seem, it's true, but it's not the goal.It will be much more protocol to estimate, but it will continue to be our philosophy. Sin ir más lejos, ya hemos quitado caspa y las moquetas del suelo por ejemplo…".

Take to the palace.

"Something like that.Locate a casual restaurant in a classic environment. Ese es el camino".

And the owners of the Place have given the OK to so many changes?

"For now.They have bought the idea ... (hahahaa).Seriously, they are Jondal clients and estimate and are excited about the project. Su objetivo también era el de quitar caspa al restaurante".

There are chefs that do not buy product because they don't know how to sell it

You say that in the palace, with greater freedom, the proposal also starts from the best product.How will you do it to continue with excellence in product with so many projects?Dani García claimed his bet for little capacity restaurants because «finding 100 mega cracks is impossible.Ten, yes it is ».

“As I see it, it is more difficult to find 100 people who want to eat in a fine dying than 100 good cracks.I think of people.There are people with a lot of money that do not want to get into a tasting menu.We, with Anna's family we are dedicated to this, so getting a good product is not a problem.In summer we service for 350 people in Jondal and spend the same prawns and cracks that here, so it is not difficult for me to get a good product.For my way of being and cooking, it is to find customers.Likewise, as I have always said, the secret is to know how to buy, at a fair price, and know how to sell.And many have problems there. No quieren comprar tal producto porque no saben cómo venderlo".

A few beat you ...

"Nope, en serio.There are many friends who have a lot of capacity to do more, but sometimes they do not continue for fear.People do not do more for fear of failure, who prevails above the illusion for success.On the other hand, others like Dabiz Muñoz or Albert Adrià, pursue and bet and normally win. Por eso, creo que hay que tener respeto pero no miedo al fracaso".

Qué bonito… For acabar, que no recuerdo, ¿cómo me has dicho que se llamará el restaurante del Palace?

(Acabo de formular la pregunta, me mira y remueve los papeles que tiene delante) "Nope, no mires…" (Atisbo algo en ellos pero no descifro).

"Love" ...

"Nope, no te lo pudo decir aún, pero tendrá relación con Estimar".

(I do not insist)

“Stay that it will be a very beautiful restaurant, a restaurant that Barcelona deserves.There are many spectacular restaurants, but there is no room like the one we are riding. Creo firmemente que es el lugar que Barcelona ahora mismo necesita".