Bruno Ruiz is surely the chef with the greatest future projection that we currently have in Dénia. For 5 years he has been leading the Aticcook Restaurant, a unique place, "hidden" in a prestigious designer furniture store. This innovative concept initially concealed it from the client of the region, as the chef acknowledges, but, once assumed, catapulted it until it was recognized with the recent mention in the Michelin Guide 2020, where, in addition to their dishes, the place was valued very positively: "It is in an attic and ... it surprises with its interior design!".
A few weeks after the announcement, we have met with Bruno to discuss this and many other issues. We wanted to know how the news lived, but also to know and know how the place works, as well as to know what you think about local news, the new D * na, the policies to boost gastronomic tourism and why it is important to bet on the product local.
QUESTION. When and how do you start to be interested in cooking?
ANSWER. Well, in my family, my grandparents had a bakery in Valencia and my father was a cook. Since childhood, what you are taking at home and little by little ... well you are doing. You like it in the end.
My mother also always worked until 15: 00, so my brother and I were cooking when we left school. She left us half-prepared things and in the end we always ended up making ourselves the typical pasta or rice, and little by little we took those notions of cooking.
And then with friends we were always the only two of us who knew how to cook and, therefore, we ended up cooking whenever we stayed.
Q. Where have you learned what we see in your dishes?
R. I learned cooking what I liked, the typical Sunday paella. With 18 years I did a Middle Degree in Cooking at the CdT and at María Ibars.
When I left the course I did the first practices in the restaurant Can Broch in Dénia and I realized there that I needed a lot to shoot. Then, through a friend, I had the opportunity to practice El Celler de Can Roca, with the Roca brothers, in Girona. I was 6 months and I liked the experience so much that I continued. In summer I worked here and in winter I went on an internship for three years. I spent time with the Roca, another with Martin Berasategui and another with Pedro Subijana in the Akelarre.
Having worked in so many places I have tried a lot of different food, from more conventional kitchens. 5 years ago we started with the Aticcook project and with it we go slowly, because in the end the concept is very different.
People start to find out a little bit that we are here when we won the Red Shrimp Contest. With him we achieved more recognition at the level of the region.
Q. Speaking of Aticcook, how does it start and why is the concept of a restaurant integrated in a store?
R. People like it a lot because it is a completely different concept. Start with the idea that the children of Pepe (Cabrera) have to give a food service to customers who come from outside in the store itself, with the same kitchens that are exposed to be sold.
It started at the beginning with Rafa Soler, who left with another project and that was when we entered. AND from the beginning we focus it for everyone, not just for store customers.
As I said, we saw that people liked this concept. Talking with the chef and being in front of you explaining the dishes, with all the furniture you've had the opportunity to see before ... Well, it's a totally different concept. You go from eating in a restaurant to living a different experience.
Q. Are you happy with people's response?
R. Yes, very happy, because every year is better. Being here, cooking in front of people, gives you the opportunity to see people's reactions with each menu and with each dish they eat. It is a great opportunity for us also to improve. If a dish has not had the reaction you expected, you can change it or ask the customer.
At first those who knew us least were those here. The same through the networks some saw the comments and approached, but from the Gamba people in the area began to come. Being inside the store did not understand very well that you could eat there.
Q. What are you based on when making your menu?
R. We change it every season. No fixed times, but I would say we change it about three or four times a year. Always little by little. Every month we try to change two or three dishes and so, more or less, every four months the whole menu is changed. Changing it little by little gives us the opportunity to play with the seasonal product.
Q. You comment on the product and seeing your letter you can appreciate the role of the one here, why is it important for you to bet on the local product?
R. We have a product here that is wonderful and I think it is fair to bet on ours. From recipes to the product. You will always give it your touch, you will always play with products from other borders, but if we can get closer to what we have here I think it is wonderful.
Without closing barriers, of course, but claiming what we have and so make people when they come to this area know what we sell.
Q. It is an idea for which you have also bet heavily on the recent D * na. By the way, what do you think of this new format of Forum What do we live in November?
R. Everyone has their own style. The Festival is more for everyone and for people to know what each restaurant does, enjoying a place such as the Marineta with the best cuisine.
The Forum also seems like a perfect idea to, above all, put producers in contact with hoteliers to see what works and what fails. Talking is important. It is very good to connect the farmer and the farmer with the hotelier and the cook. It has helped me to see things I didn't know. You see what people are trying to do and they tell you the problems they can find along the way, while you tell them what you are looking for, and a connection is thus achieved with which I think it was necessary.
P. That is also one of the main objectives at the political level in the region, especially in Dénia where they want to boost gastronomic tourism so as not to monopolize it with sun and beach and, thus, deseasonalize it. Do you think it is the right line to follow?
R. I think that for a while now he is betting on it. Since Dénia is a Creative City for UNESCO, we work hard together to encourage it. I see it every day in customers. There are many people who come to Dénia and the region willingly to eat. And people speak very well, saying that the cuisine we have here is not found elsewhere. I believe that encouraging all this is perfect so that we don't depend on July and August, but that we can receive visits all year round.
For us too, of course, it is much better, so that people do not come all at once.
Q. Since you mention people, is there any way to popularize haute cuisine by making it more economically accessible? Because when we think about it, some exclusive prices come to mind right away.
R. I believe that a little more is being encouraged, because, today, most of the haute cuisine restaurants take out a restaurant from the same house adapted to everyone. We have the example of Ricard Camarena that has been making different restaurants with prices adapted to each clientele.
In the end you have to try to make people enjoy and not necessarily an experience suitable only for the pockets of some.
Q. A few weeks ago we learned that Aticcook entered the Michelin Guide 2020. How do you receive this news?
R. They sent us an email telling us that they were going to mention us and we, of course, are delighted. It's always good that you recognize your work.
We are trying to improve what we do every day, and if they recognize you ... well, very happy.
Q. We all know what the Guide is but we don't really know how it works. Did you receive an inspector who showed up anonymously?
R. An inspector came in January. He had never come in these 5 years. He was a man who came to eat, was alone, reserved his table and we didn't know anything.
After eating and paying (because Michelin's always pay), he showed up. He did a little interview. He was interested in our trajectory and that of the restaurant, and there it remained until we received a notification later.
Q. And what does it mean to be present in the Michelin Guide?
R. It means that the work we are doing is recognized. What we try is for people to be happy and keep coming to the restaurant. But if they give us this recognition, they are delighted.
Q. Now for the star?
R. It is something that everyone tells us on the networks. We, as I said before, try to do our best. Enjoy and make enjoy. And if things come, hey, then come. Nor is it a thing that drives us crazy.