Víctor Ramos’ visit to Atmosphère leaves a trail that illuminates the ideas of those of us who live and work from passion and vocation. Such an encounter is providential in hard times governed by appearances, virtuality, superficiality and distances; by liquid values that are diluted in forced balances between daily survival and entertainment binges with which many silence the voices that speak of mission, vision, sensitivity, commitment, justice, honesty and generosity as a way of life. All this, in the succulent framework of gastronomy. Let’s go there!

On a day like today, after enriching months for the entire kitchen and dining room team led by Emmanuelle Malibert we say goodbye to Victor Ramos, because his talent is claimed by growth opportunities; And yes, after arriving in Valencia to work with Ricard Camarena and unfold the possibilities of Atmosphère’s ‘World Cuisine with a French touch’, the next stage of his journey is El Celler de Can Roca, three Michelin stars and several years awarded best restaurant in the world in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. We couldn’t be prouder and happier!

Would you like to meet Víctor Ramos? We have talked to him and we want to share it, because there is much to discover and value in people with soul, who also put their creative talent, their hands and their time at the service of such a noble activity as cooking.

We were interested in the metamorphosis from civil engineer to cook of this 29-year-old from Madrid and how one profession influences the other. Víctor answers us:

The two backgrounds are not interchangeable, but engineering did provide me with a key element, a valuable inheritance: order, the ability to order. The strong call of my genuine vocation (after having worked for several years as an engineer), clear ideas in the face of the uncertainty of a life change of such magnitude and my deep motivation became strengths in the face of the apparent disadvantage of starting to work in a sector with much younger people, who already had years of experience.

 

How does the symbiosis between your civil engineering and cooking background work?

It allows me to better define my work style, to develop my method to approach a team, a kitchen and to redirect certain processes for their optimization.

Nothing in a business like hospitality happens at random, nothing is casual and the result of improvisation, because each dish has to be developed after a creative process and put into a sustainable and efficient work system in the kitchen.

At Atmosphère I have enjoyed a very valuable and scarce asset: the freedom to create dishes, structure procedures and work methodologies in the kitchen. The confidence and carte blanche to implement challenging ideas for me as a professional, within a consolidated work team.

What do you value most from what you learned, from the Atmosphère experience?

The freedom to propose ideas and execute them, the luck of having customers who come to the restaurant, because if people don’t come, you can do wonders that in the end have no outlet and make the establishment unviable. I value a very subtle phenomenon that happens with Atmosphère’s clientele: they sense, without understanding or explaining what or how, that something is happening in the restaurant that they like.

 

What will you miss when you leave Atmosphère?

The freedom, the atmosphere of the restaurant, the work format. I will miss the way of working because it connects a lot with how I understand cooking and I am going to a new challenge that is much more rigid and structured. Atmosphère, without a doubt, leaves a mark on me.

 

¿Cómo ha sido la trabajar en un restaurante con una propuesta gastronómica tan sólida y personal como Atmosphère?

Atmosphère is not a blank canvas, because it is a restaurant that has been around for fifteen years, with a very strong and established identity and a loyal and demanding clientele. For this reason, when I arrived, I tried to be very respectful of the trajectory and knowledge of Emmanuelle Malibert and all his team, because they are the ones who have the knowledge of their business and have made it grow to where it has reached (and what is to come).

Emmanuelle Malibert’s identity and personality are present in many areas. Not only in the dining room (which is where workers and clientele notice it the most) but also in the kitchen. What has been most difficult for me is to decode Emmanuelle’s flavor code, because she knows very well what she likes and what she is looking for, so the most complicated thing for me was to understand her code and express my creativity with that perspective.

 

Can two (or more) titans fit in the same kitchen?

[laughs] The feeeling we have, the chemistry to understand each other are crucial to capture what Emmanuelle wants. In turn, she wants it to be with the breadth and creativity that she expects from her Chef de Cuisine and that the process works with the whole kitchen team. Atmosphère summarizes details everywhere and that is something rare in restaurants of this profile. It’s what I struggled with the most at the beginning.

When I look back and ask myself how to decode Emmanuelle Malibert gastronomically, it is clear to me that it is achieved through a process of observation that captures how she understands the act of eating, her palate, her culinary culture…an infinity of small details that are the mark of identity, the difference that distinguishes Atmosphère.

 

 

How did you apply your creativity to the concept ‘World cuisine with a French touch’?

It is an extensive range to create dishes. French cuisine offers so much inspiration, technique, knowledge and product treatment that this has been the “easy” part for me. Then, the proposal, being open to the “world” has given me a great opportunity for expression.

When describing my work method I propose it from the basis of a recipe that has elements close to the territory where I am, with openness to the cultures and influences of faraway places. I look for something that connects, that is close and recognizable, a link, with the competitive advantage of the French gastronomic universe. I understand cultivating the French identity as a point that sets it apart from other restaurants; I see it as an attribute to be exalted.

 

 

 

How did you like being part of Atmosphère’s creative process?

It has its complexity because we are fortunate to have enough clientele that the workload in the kitchen is high, without becoming saturated. For that reason, among others, time and space to think and create is scarce. So I approach the creative process as I go along. I see it as a challenge and something very nice and stimulating. The intensity of the daily routine and the creative part are one unit. Creativity (for example, the surprise dishes of the day) is tasted in the dining room with great immediacy, almost live after the mandatory tests.

Creative spontaneity manifests itself every day, so getting it right is a major challenge. First of all, I trace a flavor in my mind and I can intuit the result, but in the end the spontaneity of immediacy measures us almost live, which must also fit in the gastronomic proposal, in the discourse of the menu.

How was the teamwork with the other chefs, that creativity crossed with several hands?

Creating in a kitchen without a rigid hierarchy implies controlling the work rhythms and, from that point, anticipating the results. As there are several cooks, each idea of a dish implies a time and procedures that will have to be assumed and conducted to completion by another colleague. That is to say, the creativity and contribution of each one has repercussions on the other and on the kitchen processes, because time is very compartmentalized and everything works very closely together.

All this implies mutual generosity. At Atmosphère, we are fortunate to be an excellent team on a human and professional level that values and supports each other. In daily practice, with the service records that the restaurant has from Monday to Sunday, we accommodate the needs of those who are, at any given time, carrying out the work routine while others are creating new dishes or special items. This generosity and reciprocity is how we work at Atmosphère.

 

What has the experience of working with Emmanuelle Malibert’s leadership been like?

 

If there is one thing that distinguishes Emmanuelle, it is that she is unconventional. For me it was curious to meet someone so unconventional in a society (not to mention many restaurants) where everything looks alike.

I really liked meeting Emmanuelle, because it has helped me to get to know myself much better on a professional level, because she is very clear about many things and that makes you wonder how clear you are about many things in the gastronomic field.

Emmanuelle’s clarity is something that has had a very positive impact on me; because in the aspects that she doubts or in her search for innovation, she has the flexibility to let you contribute and show you the breadth of another vision, in this case, mine. The relationship with her is very healthy because we speak clearly about everything that needs to be said. This facilitates the fluidity and naturalness with which we talk about the way of seeing life and the gastronomic profile.

 

 

We talked about the journey you have made so far: next stop, four months of stage at El Celler de Can Roca, three Michelin stars and several years awarded best restaurant in the world in the list The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

How do you live it, what are your expectations?

[Laughing] It is an opportunity that imposes because everyone there is very good at what they do, however, I have a lot of positive predisposition, so for those reasons, nothing should go wrong [more laughter].

I go without fixed ideas and I try to see this opportunity as I have done so far in my life because it has worked well for me: I visualize a framework of situations and from there, nothing defined so that everything that comes will flow and give of itself all the good that can be ….. And after El Celler de Can Roca everything is yet to happen, just as it has been so far; closing circles, moving, evolving, pivoting and always continuing to learn with the changes that present themselves in the form of opportunities.

 

 

 

Interview and writing: Irene Zibert Van-Gricken – Food Marketing | Cultura Gastronómica