Professionally speaking, 2017 has been jam-packed with highlights for Germán Martitegui. The chef-owner of Tegui in Buenos Aires kicked off the year opening Madrid Fusión with a cooking seminar; in April he entered The World’s 50 Best Restaurants at No.49; while in September his first book Tegui was reprinted and the City of Buenos Aires named him Illustrious Cultural Citizen.
Thirty years ago, a career in international relations beckoned, but cooking classes led by pâtissière Beatriz Chomnalez changed Martitegui’s destiny; fast-tracked to become her assistant, he ditched his degree then moved to Los Angeles, garnering experience in Michelin-starred kitchens. When he returned to the motherland, Francis Mallmann snapped him up as his right-hand man for his Argentine and Uruguayan establishments; eight years on, Martitegui flew the coop to open Agraz, which was swiftly followed by Casa Cruz and Olsen.
But when it came to putting his own name on the door for the first time, Martitegui’s heart and soul went into Tegui. Remortgaging his house to finance the project, even selling his car to buy an oven, the chef oversaw every last detail, planting banana trees and selecting the ebony and ivory paint. With no sign but vibrant street art stencils adorning the façade, Tegui, meaning ‘house’ in Basque, set the tone for fine dining in Buenos Aires when it opened in 2009 – and continues to do so today.
While he’s remained dedicated to his restaurant, one ongoing collaboration is 10 Manos (10 Hands), a wanderlust-filled pop-up with gastro buddies including Mauro Colagreco and Narda Lepes that has taken five chefs to London, to José Ignacio in Uruguay and to Menton on the Côte d’Azur to date. This year, Martitegui has also shared his kitchen with Maido’s Mitsuharu Tsumura and Boragó’s Rodolfo Guzmán and popped up at Una, a one-table project run by fellow Argentine chef Martin Milesi in London. Somehow, he also finds time to man a stand at Masticar, the bi-annual Buenos Aires food fair.
Martitegui’s energy clearly knows no bounds. In 2016, he published his first book, Tegui, and also launched Proyecto Tierras, an ambitious two-year road trip of a project that visits producers in all 23 Argentine provinces, then invites cooks he meets to pop up at Tegui.
For these, and surely many other, reasons, Germán Martitegui takes home 2017’s Chefs’ Choice Award, as chosen by his colleagues in Latin America.
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