Renowned Spanish chef Santi Santamaria died Wednesday in Singapore, apparently from a heart attack.
The chef collapsed from a suspected heart attack while welcoming food critics to the kitchen of his newest establishment – named Santi – at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore.
Tributes poured in from the world’s most renowned chefs lamenting the loss of “a legend” who championed Catalan cuisine and brought it international attention.
A self taught chef, who since 1994 has held three Michelin stars for El Raco de Can Fabes, the restaurant he founded at his family home north of Barcelona, was considered a leading ambassador of Catalan cuisine.
He teamed traditional Catalan recipes with French nouvelle cuisine insisting on the importance of locally sourced fresh produce.
A outspoken traditionalist Santi Santamaria is also known from his feud with the other big name of haute cuisine , Ferran Adria over the use of hydrocolloids in kitchens .
That discomfort first rose to the surface at the 2007 edition of Madrid Fusion, an international chefs conference. Speaking earthy truth to gastronomic power, Santamaria used his presentation to lambast his audience for “snobbery” and reminded them that “all good meals end with a good shit.”
But it was in 2008 that he really provoked a scandal. Receiving a prize in May for his new book, The Kitchen Laid Bare, Santamaria took the opportunity to criticize fellow chefs for “legitimating forms of cooking that distance them from the traditional.”
Calling on Spain’s health minister, who was seated in the audience, to protect the unknowing public against the use of the additives sometimes used in haute cuisine to achieve spectacular effects, he railed against “cooking with chemicals like methylcellulose whose consumption could be dangerous.”
And in case anyone missed the reference to elBulli’s famous chef, he named names. “I have an enormous conceptual and ethical divorce with Ferran; he and his team are going in a direction contrary to my principles.”
Santamaria was the first Catalan chef to be awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide.His legacy is his passion to cook.