In November Dani García's restaurant at the Puente Romano hotel in Marbella gained its third Michelin star and barely a month later the Marbella-born chef has dropped a bombshell. At a meeting on Tuesday he announced to his team that "2019 will be the last for the Dani García restaurant". The poker faces of his workers said everything.
"The day I got the third star I wanted to change things and do them differently." So that is what he has done. "I'm sorry for Marbella and Malaga but this is a personal decision," he explained.
The previous day he had discussed his decision with the Michelin Guide management to explain his motives.
They accepted it "as a great loss to Spanish haute cuisine" but treated his decision with "absolute respect."
The Dani García restaurant at the Puente Romano will close on 22 October, a month before the new guide comes out.
"We have 314 days and 202 sittings left." Dani García does not intend to retire, far from it; in fact he is expecting his new project to involve more work.
His restaurant will reopen as a steak house called Leña. And of course, one of the main items on the menu will be burgers. It may seem absurd to exchange the world of haute cuisine for the most basic of foods but it has always been Dani García's intention to bring his cooking to a wider public, moving away from the list of elite customers he has catered for in the past.
He admits that the third Michelin star was the catalyst that prompted him to start a new career from the beginning.
"What is life if you don't have a dream? Now we are going to conquer the world by turning everything on its head. It may seem a shame to do this but we are not just top chefs, we are great cooks," observed García, ready to start a "new revolution" in the world of gastronomy.
"We've got as far as we can but the world is a big place and there is a lot to do. I want to take Andalucía to every corner [of the world]," he added.
He has plans, besides the Leña project, to open a bar called Hoso, serving traditional Andalusian gastronomy and another called Iris, a restaurant that will open in the Four Seasons hotel in Madrid at the end of 2019.
He is aware of the repercussions of his news, but says, "This isn't good-bye, there are many possibilities." These include the expansion of his BiBo project already planned in Qatar and with a window opening also in Dubai, London and perhaps Barcelona. Not forgetting Lobito de Mar, another restaurant that could expand into Madrid, where BiBo opened two and a half years ago.
His return to the centre of Malaga city has not been ruled out either. Dani García is leaving the door open. "Some day we will be coming back but on a smaller scale, the way it should be, something more exclusive," he said.