Paco Lara has been the head chef at Disfrutar restaurant in Barcelona for two and a half years. SUR
This is the Malaga chef who is head of the best restaurant in the world
Food and drink

This is the Malaga chef who is head of the best restaurant in the world

Paco Lara, 27, from Archidona, is the head chef of a three Michelin-starred eatery that has just been crowned Best in the World at the 50Best event in Las Vegas

Juan Soto


Friday, 14 June 2024, 13:31

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Although it doesn’t serve gazpacho, skewered sardines or cod salad, Disfrutar, the recently named best restaurant in the world, has the stamp of Malaga. The three Michelin-starred Barcelona eatery, which this month was crowned at the top of on the 50Best list, has a chef born and raised in Archidona, 27-year-old Paco Lara.

Paco started in the world of catering because he did not want to study. “My story is a little different from others as I started working in a kitchen because I didn’t like studying and I couldn’t find my vocation in anything else,” he said.

When he was just 17 years old, and after attending the Luis Barahona de Soto secondary school, he started working as a waiter in a bar in the village. He had his first contact with the kitchen at the age of 19 when he was working for a catering company and it was then that he decided that the time had come to train.

After several unsuccessful attempts, he managed to get into the Hotel Escuela Convento de Santo Domingo in Archidona. There, he says, he learned the basics of cooking, “what a blue board is for, how to peel an onion...” and soon stood out as one of the best students. So much so that before finishing the course, he was hired by a restaurant in Mallorca, where he spent a year.

But he wanted to continue to grow and Disfrutar, a restaurant in Barcelona which already had two Michelin stars, crossed his path. With no other sponsor other than his training and curriculum, he decided to write to them to ask for an internship and they agreed. “I was lucky enough to be accepted very quickly,” he said.

He arrived in Barcelona in 2018 for a four-month internship and has never left the restaurant since. The bosses highly valued his work and he stayed on as an assistant. Then he was promoted to station chef, sous chef and then head chef, a position he has held for two and a half years.

He now leads a team of about 50 people and is grateful for everything he has been taught in the restaurant since he joined six years ago. “I was lucky to start from the bottom because they taught me everything about haute cuisine,” he explained.

This month, Disfrutar was placed first on the 50Best list during a gala held in Las Vegas. It had been nine years since a Spanish restaurant had topped this global list, as the last one to do so was El Celler de Can Roca in 2015. The other Spanish restaurant that has also led this ranking is the now defunct El Bulli.

Paco Lara remembers that day as one of the happiest of his life. The whole team stayed in the restaurant’s kitchen to follow the gala at 5.30am. “The repercussion of this award has caused the telephone to ring off the hook!” he said.

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