Francisco Mico


"The first time I tried foie gras was an incredible experience."


What made you want to become a chef?

Ever since childhood I have liked cooking. I think in my case it was something I was born with. The first time I had the opportunity to enter a professional kitchen as a dishwasher, I was excited and I knew then that this was what I wanted to do with my life.
What is your earliest memory of a dish that made you dream?
Maybe rather than a dish my first memory was of a product. The first time I tried foie gras was an incredible experience.
Who has influenced your cooking style or philosophy?
I consider myself mainly self-taught, and a curious person by nature, so maybe it would be appropriate to say that my influences are varied. But if I had to name Chefs who changed my way of thinking or cooking, I would say Dani García, Thomas Keller, Santi Santamaría and Joan Roca, among many others.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Well, basically I would say my surroundings. I travel a lot in my work, and have had the opportunity to live in several countries; and their culture, ingredients, landscapes, etc are always a source of inspiration to me.
What is your preferred method or cooking technique?
I'm a big fan of vacuum cooking; especially combined with other techniques like grilling.
What is your favourite ingredient?
That’s very difficult to answer; there are so many. But I can never go wrong with those that are an integral part of my Canary Islands and Spanish roots: garlic, olive oil, cumin, mature cheese, paprika …

What is your favourite kitchen utensil?
Well, it may seem very simple, but definitely the spoon. In fact, I have a tattoo of one on my forearm.

What do you like your pots and pans to be made of?
It depends on what you plan to cook; but usually stainless steel is a good bet, and especially with a good quality non-stick surface. I also like working with traditional pans, or similar, made of heavy, thick cast iron.

What would you like to change in cooking schools?
More than anything, the idea taught to the new generations of chefs that, once you finish your training, you are a chef.
When you finish training, you are ready to join a profession that is more than a job: it's a way of life.
What advice would you give for young chefs?
Work as much as you can. You shouldn’t conform, try things out. Curiosity should be one of you "tasks" at work; and especially put a lot of passion into your work, because this job is only for passionate people.
What do you look for when hiring staff for your restaurant?
Fundamentally, that they are highly motivated. I like people with formal gastronomy qualifications, but it’s not the main thing. For me, attitude and passion is what gets you the job.
How do you motivate your team?
I try to share my experiences with them. Throughout my career, I have had success and failure, but I have never given in and have always moved on.
What would you like to change in the catering industry?
I would like to see small businesses, with much capital, receive greater attention and support from the industry. Sometimes, we lose excellent chefs and restaurants that go unnoticed in the "foodie" panorama.
How do you deal with awkward guests?
(Laughs) With a lot of patience! Just kidding. In fact, usually when a diner is unhappy for some reason, the best thing we can do is try to understand the problem and try to find a solution.

Where is your favourite place to escape and relax?
Travelling always recharges my batteries. But if I don’t have time for that, going out to the cinema or with friends has a good “balsamic” effect on my stress levels.

What drives you on to keep being successful?
Well, I started in this profession a little late and am largely self-taught; I think my struggle has always been with myself. To surpass myself, to see that I am capable of growing and doing things that years ago were unthinkable for me; these things drive me on to continue working.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
That's another tough question. Many times I’ve made something that I love, but after a while I stop liking it.

What is your favourite restaurant?
There are lots, and many more I would like to know. But I have a special place in my heart for the Sant Celoni restaurant, from the now departed Santi Santamaría.
Which current chef do you admire most and why?
All those I mentioned before, and many more. I really like the impudence and freedom of Grant Achatz or relationship with the product of Atalá.

How do you think restaurants should be classified?
For their value for money, without a doubt.