'To work towards the goal of getting a Michelin star always gave me some peace of mind'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 31st March 2020

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Óscar Velasco is the head chef at two Michelin-starred Santceloni restaurant in Madrid, Spain.

Oscar's desire to become a great chef came much later than most, and although he started working in kitchens aged 16, he only did so to earn money while he studied. 

It was only when he discovered the breadth and range of opportunities the restaurant world has to offer that he was swayed. 

The chef speaks of three pivotal moments in his career: first, when he had the opportunity to work at Zalacaín - the first three Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain - under chef Benjamín Urdiain.

He said: "For me, it was a very important qualitative leap, from local and traditional cuisine to haute cuisine. It was very French and classic."

Then, he joined Martin Berasategui at Restaurante Lasarte in San Sebastian, giving him an insight into a culture far removed from his own. 

But above all, he explained, "I had the opportunity to see how a great chef like Martin Berasategui works, thinks, organises and develops day by day."

Finally, a major turning point came for Oscar in 2001, when he joined Santi Santamaria - the first Catalan chef to earn three Michelin stars - at Can Fabes.

"That's where I found a different way of working," he said, "a product-based cuisine rooted in the land, where the product takes centre stage in everything we do."

Inside Santceloni restaurant

"If you don't feel fulfilled and happy with what you do, it is very complicated to convey anything to your clients." 

It was with Santamaria that Oscar was able to open the Madrid restaurant in the basement of the Hisperia Madrid hotel.

From the very start at Santceloni, the aim was to get a Michelin star - a goal which was achieved in its first year, followed by a second in 2005. This objective, Oscar explained, gave him drive, focus and a sense of internal peace.

"To work towards the goal of getting a Michelin star always gave me some peace of mind," he said.

28 people work at the 40 seater restaurant, where food is ingredient-led, seasonal and attempts to reflect at once an attentiveness to world trends, modern influences and techniques and a strong grounding in its Spanish roots.

For Oscar, Santceloni's success lies in the fact that the team take pleasure in what they do. 

"If you don't feel fulfilled and happy with what you do, it is very complicated to convey anything to your clients." 

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 31st March 2020

'To work towards the goal of getting a Michelin star always gave me some peace of mind'

IN ASSOCIATION WITH