#FOODMISSION 2024 – JuanLU Fernández, LÚ, Cocina y Alma, Cádiz, Spain

Juanlu Fernández has created a unique niche in the culinary world by seamlessly combining the rich traditions of his hometown, Jerez de la Frontera, with the sophistication of French cuisine. His journey from a humble bakery to the pinnacle of gastronomic excellence is a testament to his passion, creativity, and constant pursuit of culinary perfection.

Early Beginnings in Confectionery

Born in 1984 in Jerez de la Frontera, Juanlu’s culinary journey began at the age of 13. He first entered the world of food while working in his uncle’s bakery in San José del Valle. It was here that he developed a foundational understanding of ingredients and the intricate art of cake making. At the age of 15, he moved to Los Reyes, an artisanal pastry shop in Jerez. This period marked the beginning of his deeper exploration into the culinary arts and ignited his curiosity about cooking.

At 18, Juanlu took a significant step by joining Martin Berasategui’s kitchen in Lasarte. Under the supervision of the great master, he honed his skills in technique, precision, and the discipline required in top-class gastronomy. His commitment and talent were evident, so at 21, he continued his training with Berasategui in Tenerife, further expanding his knowledge of cooking, management, and leadership.

Rise to Prominence

Juanlu’s career took an extraordinary turn at the age of 23 when he became the executive chef at Aponiente. This period played a key role in shaping his culinary philosophy and perfecting his craft.

In 2017, driven by the desire to express his culinary identity without limits, Juanlu opened LÚ Cocina y Alma in his hometown of Jerez. The restaurant quickly gained international recognition, winning its first significant awards within a year. LÚ Cocina y Alma is a reflection of Juanlu’s unique culinary vision, combining the elegance of French cuisine with the rich flavors of Andalusian ingredients.

“Rearguard Vanguard” Cuisine

Juanlu describes his culinary style as “rearguard vanguard,” reflecting his approach of combining traditional techniques with modern innovations. His cuisine is a delightful blend of heritage and creativity, offering guests an experience that is both nostalgic and avant-garde. He emphasizes the importance of seasonal products and has deep respect for the origins of his ingredients.

Slow cooking over a wood fire transports guests through time and space, evoking memories and emotions. His restaurant features an open kitchen, designed by Mexican architect Jean Porsche, allowing guests to witness the creative process firsthand. Chef Juanlu Fernández’s tasting menus present the history and culinary heritage of the region.

Broadening Horizons with Maison Lú

Building on the success of LÚ Cocina y Alma, Juanlu recently opened Maison Lú in Marbella, further expanding his culinary empire. This new venture continues his mission to combine French culinary techniques with the best Andalusian products, offering a culinary experience that is both refined and deeply rooted in tradition.

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