A few weeks ago we explored the darker side of Michelin stars and how many great chefs prefer to give up their awards to escape the pressure and recover the reins of their kitchen and their lives. But there are always exceptions, and in the world of gastronomy it has its own name: David Muñoz, the eternal hipster who is nevertheless happy and lives with passion everything he does.
The Madrid chef rose to world fame by becoming one of the owners of the coveted three Michelin stars when he had barely spent thirty. His peculiar style, both in the kitchen and in his public facet, leaves no one indifferent, as the impact of the recent program of 'El Xef' has shown. At, We see a David completely obsessed with his work, but is he happy? If something has become clear to us, it is that he lives and goes out of his way to his profession. He is never totally satisfied with anything, but in that constant dissatisfaction there is also his happiness.
Chasing a dream
David Muñoz did not grow up in a family of cooks, but as a child he had a kind of revelation when he was taken to the mythical Viridiana to eat. He soon learned that the world of fireplaces was his own, and he was able to verify it when he entered the School of Hospitality of Madrid when he was 17 years old. But David not only wanted to cook his best, too He was very clear from the beginning that his work had to be different and unique. The search for a dream began.
After that first stage of more academic training and practices in Spanish restaurants, he spent four years tanning in London, a hard stage due to the living and working conditions he had to endure but which were very enriching. Working in two leading restaurants of Asian fusion cuisine Like Hakkasan and Nobu, David Muñoz was shaping what he knew he wanted his own style to be, ideas that he would soon put into practice when he opened the first DiverXO in Madrid in 2007 with his savings and the help of his family.
Sacrifice and more sacrifice
He began a crucial stage of his life in which a dazzling trajectory of successes and recognitions That did not take long to arrive. Three years later he already receives his first Michelin star and gets the National Gastronomy Award. In 2012 he received the second star and the coveted third would arrive just the following year, in 2013. He had already achieved world fame with a style that left no one indifferent.
The meteoric career of David Muñoz, his restaurant and his team, can be summed up in one word: sacrifice. Work to live or live to work? In the case of the young chef, his life is his job, by full conviction and passion. He has things clear from the start, he knows that only the best can come out of his kitchens, and achieving that utopian perfection involves working seven days a week, more than 12 hours a day. And always with his restaurant and his other projects in mind.
In addition to DiverXO, which moved to the Eurobuilding Hotel in 2014, the chef is very involved and always present in other initiatives such as StreetXO or the international jump that begins in London. He already has his eye on New York and Asia, since his entrepreneurial spirit never seems to slow down. Do you sacrifice other aspects of life to focus so much on cooking? When your work really is the passion of your life, the sacrifice does not seem to be such.
An overflowing passion
Throughout the four programs in which it has been developed The Xef We have seen a David totally dedicated to his work, to his kitchen. Examine energy and passion for all your pores, does not seem to be able to be want a second and does not settle for anything. The same sacrifice that self-imposes on himself is what his team demands, and that restless spirit coupled with his particular way of being makes him emit an image sometimes unpleasant for the viewer, too intense.
He is accused of being arrogant, of having a stubborn attitude, of being a character over Show That a chef delivered to his job. Maybe, but you can afford it. He does not seem to care about the image he transmits, although he sometimes has trouble accepting criticism, since he knows very well what he is looking for and does not stop until he finds it. He is an extreme perfectionist, touching - overstepping? - the obsession, and always looking for the limits a little further.
Asian cuisine is his great source of inspiration and it shows when we see him walking the streets of India or Thailand. Your eyes light up when you find an interesting street food stall or when you try some popular ingredient unknown in Spain. He strolls between strange stores and markets full of products, becoming an excited guide, to whom everything catches his eye, everything fascinates him and creativity awakens him. And so never fails to find inspiration, to rethink new dishes, new flavors, new ways to surprise the diner.
The problem is when that uncontrolled passion does not seem to find a limit. David Muñoz has known at a young age exactly what he wanted and it was clear that he had to fight to exhaustion to get it. Y This way he keeps his work philosophy, without rest, without getting comfortable, not even when finally his restaurant is profitable and after having got the three stars. His new status and media fame could be a new source of pressure to force him to remain the best, but he really doesn't need it. He already presses himself.
In some interview he acknowledged that he had a real bad time shortly before achieving the second star, living at a pace too frantic and without stopping to breathe. But he overcame the bump when he realized that you can live mired in a constant search for unattainable perfection, and still enjoy the moment, find happiness in dissatisfaction.
In the program, trying out new dishes for the relocation of StreetXO, he never seemed happy at all. "It's very good but ..." It can always be better, you can always go one step further. What he has learned is that this dissatisfaction does not have to be a cause of bitterness, but rather the impulse that will always move him forward, which prevents him from relaxing in a comfortable position. He has learned to be proud of his work and that of his team.
David Muñoz he needs to be in constant creative movement and his ambition has no limits. He wants his kitchen to have its own personality, to surprise the diner in a way that nobody has done before, without losing quality of flavor. And he wants to bring DiverXO's philosophy to every corner of the world, never giving up his way of understanding the kitchen. You will never reach the top of your career because you will never stop at the top, you always have to work to take that step further.
He lives and goes out of his way for his work, but he is not one of those who would give up the three Michelin stars to put a little calm in his life. He simply remains true to himself, dedicating himself to his project in body and soul. Hipster, demanding, passionate, fighter, hardworking and transgressive, but always consistent with his way of understanding the kitchen. This is David Muñoz, or Daviz, the Xef that he has made obsessive dissatisfaction his own happiness ideal.
Images | Diverxo, Four
Live to the Palate | "The most difficult thing is to cook with personality", interviews David Muñoz, chef of DiverXO