by Christina Jolonch
Carles Gaig: “I have never believed in myself to the extent of having the ego of some chefs.”
Renowned chef Carles Gaig, who has just turned 75, is the star of the latest episode of the “Quédate a Comer” podcast. During the conversation, he describes a childhood marked by scarcity but also by his parents’ tremendous desire to work so that their children lacked as little as possible. Gaig explains the significance of his mother in his life and reminisces about his earliest memories in a kitchen where all the technology was reduced to a coal-burning stove and an icebox.
Gaig recalls the lack of social recognition for his profession when he first started working. He explains his fascination with those French chefs who were treated as influential figures in his country while he and his friends, who would drive to taste their dishes, felt a bit like the Flintstones. From the memories of those visits, he recalls a Sunday afternoon when, after finishing work, he and his ex-wife, along with Ferran Adrià, drove to El Racó de Can Fabes, where Santi Santamaria and his wife were waiting for them. They all then went to Monte Carlo to dine at Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV. Gaig explains the camaraderie that existed in the kitchens, stating that “that opening of doors and hearts was the beginning of the evolution that took place in the kitchens.” He also analyzes the conflict that arose between Santi Santamaria and Ferran Adrià following the publication of Santamaria’s book, “La cocina al desnudo,” which he now sees as a childish squabble.
Gaig also discusses his relationship with a profession that he is passionate about. He talks about the egos and the desire for recognition of those who mistakenly believe that wearing a white chef’s jacket guarantees success, as well as those who are solely interested in media attention. He notes that some people, at the age of 22, are already appearing on television, something he didn’t do for the first time until he had been working for 22 years.
The chef also explains why he lost a Michelin star he had held for 27 years when he moved his business and trusted those responsible for setting up the new space. He expresses regret for choosing the wrong partner in this endeavor and advises being as self-sufficient as possible and not letting emotions guide business decisions. He emphasizes that when it comes to business, the heart is not enough; what matters are a cool head and a sharp mind.
Gaig expresses deep gratitude for his life, as he is able to dedicate himself to what he loves most, and he talks about his strong family situation. He also explains that he is still in love with the woman who turned his life upside down when he was 48 years old. “It happened as if it could only happen when you are very young or as if it only happens in the movies: love at first sight.”