EDUARDO SALANOVA – ESPACIO N, ESQUEDAS (HUESCA)
Born in Canfranc, Eduardo Salanova wanted to be a chef since he was a child, but did not take the step until he finished his law degree. At the age of twenty-six he entered the San Lorenzo de Huesca Catering School in Huesca and went to Echaurren with Francis Paniego. While there, he received a call from Ana Acín to go to La Venta del Sotón, but he preferred to continue his training at Ángel León’s Aponiente. In Esquedas they waited for him and since 2014 he has been running the legendary kitchen. Only a year later, the owner, Ana Acín, and he began to plan what would become Espacio N.
Both were very clear about the culinary concept that in that minimalist space designed by Julio Luzán they wanted to develop. “La Venta del Sotón had a history of more than half a century offering very traditional Aragonese cuisine and Espacio N had to follow that line, revised from the avant-garde”, explains this restless chef, always ready to rescue, investigate and reinterpret the vast Aragonese recipe book. Teodoro Bardají, Juan de Altamiras and other lesser-known chefs became his authors of reference.
To give shape to the philosophy of Espacio N, his team created its own creative method, in which different parts converge: “on the one hand, the traditional Aragonese recipe book, on the other, the priority use of local products and, finally, my professional background in other cuisines, my experiences, travels, etc.”. From this combination of past and present knowledge, two tasting menus emerged, one shorter and one longer, formulas chosen by Espacio N as the most suitable to express its cuisine.
“I LIKE TO THINK THAT GASTRONOMIC TRAVELERS CAN SOAK UP THE GASTRONOMIC CULTURE OF THE PYRENEES, HUESCA AND ARAGON, AT ESPACIO N”.
In July 2018, this space opened its doors, which presents itself as a guarantor of Aragonese haute cuisine, a title more than deserved, as demonstrated by the prestigious Michelin Guide when, just two and a half years after its opening, in December 2020, it awarded Espacio N a star. “A year and a half after opening came the pandemic, which forced us to close for several months during 2020, and at the end of that same year, we were awarded the star. We were very happy, we didn’t expect it,” he recalls.
Not only does the critical response endorse Espacio N’s meteoric trajectory, but so do the customers. “It is very gratifying to see how well the public responds to La Venta del Sotón’s recipes that, although revised, have a long history in the restaurant, such as the cod ajoarriero or the torteta bonbon that, by their appearance, suggest something totally different, but when unconditional La Venta fans try them, they find flavors and sensations that refer to the past”.
While with loyal customers Eduardo feels the responsibility not to disappoint, with those who come from outside, he feels the responsibility to make known the richness of Aragonese food and culinary history. “I like to think that gastronomic travelers can soak up the gastronomic culture of the Pyrenees, Huesca and Aragon, in Espacio N”.
“Some dishes are reinterpretations of recipes from the 15th, 19th, 20th centuries… and others are new creations, but always starring Aragonese products. All of the dishes on the two menus – Essence and Ephemeral – feature local products”. Vegetables from organic cooperatives in Huesca, chickens and guinea fowl from Poleñino, sturgeon from El Grado, Ternasco de Aragón IGP… and of course, the wines that Ana chooses, not only from the province of Huesca, but also from the rest of Aragón, are basic in Espacio N’s pantry.
Eduardo Salanova Restaurante Espacio N. Photo: Cristina Matrtínez Agencia Almozara
Yesterday and today go hand in hand, not only in the recipe book, but also in the coexistence of both restaurants -La Venta del Sotón and Espacio N- that share equipment and building, as well as in an endless number of details that reinforce the link between past and present, “such as serving a wine from a wineskin in wineskins made by an artisan from Sariñena or having an aperitif at Espacio N, in the fireplace of La Venta”, says Eduardo.
The Espacio N season runs from February to October and Eduardo spends the rest of the time researching, inventing new dishes, testing… always with the double responsibility of not betraying his memory and representing Aragonese haute cuisine.