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Michelin-starred Spanish chef Santi Santamaria dies

16 February 2011

Santi Santamaria, the three-Michelin-starred, legendary Spanish chef, passed away on Wednesday this week. He was at his restaurant in Singapore.

A manager at Santamaria's Can Fabes restaurant in Sant Celoni told AFP that the 53-year-old chef had died suddenly while in his restaurant, Santi, run by his daughter. The manager was not aware of the cause of death, but Spanish media reports claim Santamaria suffered a heart attack.

Santamaria's food philosophy was founded on tradition and authenticity, seasonality and provenance. In an interview with Caterer in 2009, when Roux Scholar Daniel Cox was conducting his three-month stage at Can Fabes, Santamaria said: "Visual aesthetics are no use unless a dish delivers taste. All ingredients must be excellent, from the stock onwards."

Santamaria hit the news in recent years when he publicly described Spain's more avant-garde chefs, such as Ferran Adria, as "a gang of frauds whose work is to distract snobs". His comments sparked a battle of words with Adrià, a battle that worsened when Santamaria claimed he and Adrià had had an "ethical and conceptual divorce over what we put on the plate" and accused Adrià of using gelling agents and synthetic additives that represented a health threat to his customers.

On hearing of Santamaria's death, chefs worldwide took to Twitter to praise the chef.

"Santi Santamaria is a legend, one of my favourite chefs," commented Jason Atherton, who is soon to open his first UK venture Pollen Street Social . "He will be remembered as a legend."

Galvin at Windows head chef Andre Garrett, a former Roux Scholar, added: "RIP Santi Santamaria, one of the nicest chefs I ever had the pleasure to meet."

In addition to Can Fabes, Santamaria owned Santceloni in Madrid, La Manzana, also in Madrid, Evo and Bouquet in Barcelona, Tierra in Toledo, Ossian in Dubai, and Santi in the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore.

Roux Scholarship: the lure of the stage >>

Interview with Spanish chef Ferran Adriá >>

By Amanda Afiya

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