Like all cuisine with roots, the soul of Leandro Gil’s gastronomy is his respect for his origins, as shown in his recipes and produce. Named Revelatory Chef of the Year (Madrid Fusion 2018), he reinterprets the best produce from the Navarran ribera region with elegance and deep respect to its origins.
Leandro brings to the Alma his passion for interpreting the environment which surrounds him and in which he was raised, the same woods and allotments that were inhabited by his land-labouring grandfathers. In a continuous search for wild endemic ingredients such as rock tea, rose hip and elderberry, Leandro rediscovers them in new forms, making the Alma culinary experience an entertaining, surprising and innovative journey into local roots.
While fundamentally focusing on herbs, whether aromatic plants from the Alma’s own allotment or wild flora from the surrounding terrain, Leandro also recovers meat and fish dishes from yesteryear. The seemingly humble sheep’s head, for instance, is presented in a fresh way thanks to his personal vision.
In a constant quest for new possibilities offered by his surroundings, Leandro roams the fields and woods or talks with vegetable-growers, shepherds, farmers and people with wisdom and knowledge about these habitats. They reveal to him ingredients which have always been there as well as their ancient uses, providing Leandro with a range of innovative opportunities for his reinterpretations. This means that the Alma dishes contain the seasonal offerings of field and forest to transport the diner on an unexpected journey into the past. He looks to the future while guided by his grandparents, who showed him the potential of the natural environment in which he was born and raised, and shares his personal exploratory adventure into his roots with all the Alma clients.
Chef Leandro Gil
Leandro studied at the Luis Irízar Cooking School in San Sebastían, one of the most prestigious culinary academies in Spain. His training at this school opened the door to internships at renowned restaurants such as Arzak, Akelarre and the Celler de Can Roca. Upon his return to Navarra in 2015, Leandro was appointed chef at El Molino in Urdániz and in August 2016 he took over the kitchen at the Restaurante Alma, located in the Hotel Muga de Beloso-Alma Pamplona.
“My childhood in Navarra, where my learning is based, has permanently influenced the entire evolution of my dishes. The only thing that has happened to shape them has been my own life, my travels, my reading and my days working in different restaurants. Today I can say that my philosophy is a reflection of the produce of my homeland, of the wild plants that my grandfather revealed to me and which I now apply to sophisticated recipes thanks to a technique I have acquired through my studies and work. I try to make my dishes simple within their difficulty, to make them honest and to show me just as I am. In addition, I like working with seasonal produce as determined by Mother Nature, because she is the one in charge of what grows in the earth and the time it takes.”
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