The Barri Gótic is packed with restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets, and is also one of the most historic and touristic neighbourhoods in Spain. Before talking to some of the chefs who are in charge of these kitchens, I was expecting to hear horror stories on par with reality television—about the stress of the frenetic rhythm, the gruelling hours on their feet, and the hassle of dealing with rude clients. Surprisingly, three different chefs from three different kinds of restaurant were all uniformly laid back, as they lovingly described the day-to-day details of their jobs.
JESÚS ORTEGA MARIN AT CLEMEN’S
Jesús Ortega Marin is the chef at Clemen’s, a bar that has been located in the back of the Boquería since 1976. It’s a magical corner of the market that offers heaped plates of savoury tapas and vermut, served on sparkling jet-black countertops. Over 200 people may come through on an average day and everyone is personally greeted by the owner, Albert, and his wife and son. Chef Jesús has to keep up with this flow of clientele from 7am until 4pm, six days a week. “You can buy €900 worth of seafood and still run out before the end of a busy day,” he says. “Sounds crazy, but it’s true.”