The culinary world is in shock as the news that Spain’s Michelin-starred Chef Santi Santamaria has died suddenly in Singapore from what is believed to possibly be a heart attack.
Santamaria, who was only 53 years old, collapsed on Tuesday, February 16th while greeting guests at the inaugural opening of his restaurant Santi at the new breath-taking Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore.
Santamaria is universally acknowledged in the culinary industry as the chef who launched Spanish and especially Catalan cuisine onto the world stage. By 1994 his Can Fabes Restaurant, located right in his own hometown of Sant Celoni, was awarded (and still retains) three Michelin stars.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Santamaria went on to open three more restaurants – Evo in Barcelona, Santceloni in Madrid and Tierra in Valdepalacios outside the Spanish capital. Under his insightful direction, all of these restaurants have also earned their share of Michelin Stars.
Though a largely self-taught chef, Santamaria’s innate talent was legendary and sometimes controversial. As the chef who introduced the wonders of Hispanic cuisine to the world, he declared the value of only the freshest and most natural of ingredients.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that this dedication brought him directly into conflict with Spain’s other leading chef, Adria Ferran, who was also opening new doors with innovative techniques and new ingredients.
The intense verbal war between the two was finally brought to an end when Euro-Toques International (ETI), the leading organization representing Europe’s top chefs, intervened and calmed the waters between these two very talented chefs.
Despite this conflict, which represents in reality the creative diversity that is the very nature of the culinary profession, Santamaria has always been honored by his peers as one of world’s leading chefs and a beloved colleague. On his death, such great chefs as Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, Justin Quek and Tetsuya Wakuda paused and remembered their professional friend with nothing but words of high praise.
The famed French Chef Daniel Boulud of New York City said it best when he stated,”a great friend and inspiration had been lost. He will be great missed.”
Indeed Santamaria did give the world so much – his courage, his passion, his flare as only he could. Thank you for such great and honest gifts to us all.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011