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6 febrero 2023

Interview with Carmelo Bosque. Lillas Pastia Restaurant: “Restaurants fill up because of their cuisine, if there is no talent, vocation and effort, they don’t work”

CARMELO BOSQUE – RESTAURANT LILLAS PASTIA, HUESCA

He started in the kitchen relatively late, but he learned very quickly. Fleeing from the cocktail bars where he worked, Carmelo Bosque, a native of Ponzano (Huesca), asked the historic Fernando Abadía to take him to cook with him. “When I joined the Navas changed the course of my life, I decided to bet on training and I began to glimpse what has been my career”.

“MONEY WAS NEVER MY CONCERN, I AM MORE INTERESTED IN CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION”.

While working, he trained at a recently inaugurated School of Hotel and Catering in San Lorenzo, but, above all, he learned from the professionals he was close to: Abadía, Berasategui, Escartín… “I have always looked for people in my life who could contribute to me. I went to the best restaurants to work, detected what was happening in gastronomy and brought it to Huesca. The result was that we got a star”.

Carmelo Bosque. Restaurant Lillas Pastia Photo: Cristina Matrtínez Agencia Almozara

In 1993, he set up on his own, opening El Flor and, just two years later, Lillas Pastia was born in the beautiful modernist Casino of Huesca, “a serious project of haute cuisine that I knew would involve a lot of work and little profitability, but money was never my concern, I was more interested in creativity and innovation”. Only three years later, he was enlightened with a Michelin star that he has just revalidated in the latest edition of the awards.

Since then, although his entrepreneurial spirit and constant restlessness have led him to open several more restaurants – he currently has five – Lillas Pastia is his home. “I would be wrong if I wanted to deceive people and tell them that today I am here, tomorrow at the Quema and the day after at the Paraninfo… this is my space, with which I identify myself.”

“The house of the truffle”.

It is his home and also “the house of the truffle”, a product that captivated Bosque even as a child. “I experienced the aroma of the truffle as a child and at that time it caught me. Later I was lucky enough to arrive at Navas, where truffles were already being used. Later, at Lillas, we started to work with it very strongly”. Currently, the Casino restaurant is identified with this fungus and its truffle menu attracts hundreds of diners from different places in season. “In Huesca I am linked to the truffle, but not in Zaragoza, because truffle is Lillas Pastia, not Carmelo Bosque, and the brand is above me”.

Lillas pastia
Cod brandade cannelloni with honey, Jiloca saffron and black truffle Photo: Cristina Matrtínez Agencia Almozara

And not only truffle, Carmelo Bosque is a staunch defender of a cuisine focused on the product and strongly rooted to the territory: “Now we have exceptional products: truffle, caviar, saffron, capers, seasonal vegetables such as borage, tomato… we go to the animal world and also. I can’t believe it’s hard to find a place in Aragon that roasts veal on a daily basis”.

“A PROJECT FOR ARAGON IN WHICH EVERYONE WHO HAS TALENT TO CONTRIBUTE SHOULD BE INVOLVED. IF WE UNITE TALENT, RESEARCH AND TRADE, WE WILL BE ABLE TO CREATE, ADVANCE AND GROW”.

Avid for knowledge, since he started in the culinary world, Carmelo has been obsessed with training, in fact, Lillas Pastia, as well as a restaurant, has been a school since the day he opened the door. And, for training to be efficient, he believes, Aragon and its restaurants must make a constant effort to document its cuisine, its products, its culinary tradition, the history of its restaurants: “We have to document our gastronomy. It’s what makes you see if you are progressing, if you are doing well, it’s like a traction wheel”.

In that sense, Bosque, who has chaired the Provincial Association of Hospitality and Tourism since 2018, is very excited about the upcoming opening of the Center for Gastronomic Innovation of Aragon, “a project of Aragon in which everyone who has talent to contribute has to be there. If we join talent, research and trade, we will be able to create, advance and grow”. Managed by a foundation that bears the name of his admired Fernando Abadía, the center, in addition to serving to develop ideas, will be a center for documentation and business learning, “because we must not forget that we are entrepreneurs”.

Carmelo Bosque. Restaurant Lillas Pastia Photo: Cristina Matrtínez Agencia Almozara

Knowing the roots to, from there, imagine, innovate and create; constant training, teamwork and efficient business management; defend and extol the products of the immediate environment and the season … that is the mantra that has led Carmelo Bosque to be one of the most prominent figures of Aragonese gastronomy and Lillas Pastia to be recognized by the most prestigious guides, with the stars of the kitchen: the Michelin star and the Repsol sun. “Restaurants can be incredible spaces, but they are filled by the cuisine. If there is no talent, vocation, effort, work, enthusiasm and humility -because if you think you are very good, you have no desire to improve- they don’t work”, he concludes.

Download the recipe here

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