Chef Ángel León has been awarded the inaugural Sustainability Award by the Michelin Guide, in recognition of his unwavering commitment to sustainable gastronomic practices at his restaurant Aponiente.
Located in an old tidal mill from the 19th century. In the heart of the Bahía de Cádiz Natural Park in El Puerto de Santa María, Aponiente encapsulates chef León’s deep respect for the sea and his determination to change people’s relationship with it, through his responsible and sustainable use of the sea’s resources to create a cuisine of the highest possible standards.
At the Michelin Guide Spain & Portugal 2020 gala event, chef León took the stage to receive the award, while his restaurant Aponiente retained its three Michelin stars for the second consecutive year.
Known as the ‘Chef of the Sea’ León has long defined his gastronomy with sustainable fishing practices and the use of fish species previously thought of as ‘marine waste’. His culinary crusade has revitalised the environment in which the restaurant is set, the beautiful, complex ecosystem of the wetland marsh of the Bay of Cádiz.
At Aponiente, through dedication to and respect for the sea, León has created a cuisine that elevates the disregarded into something exceptional. An example of this is the creation of marine charcuterie made completely with fish (comprised of sea bass, dogfish loin, sea bream, or mackerel sobrasada) to marine bacon (through the reuse of marine discards that were previously regarded as waste), to sea hare roe (similar to noodles). The latter was adapted from so-called waste to become an integral element of his three Michelin-star menu.
Working closely with local fishermen and leaning on their intimate knowledge of the marsh, passed down through generations, León works to forge a path to delicious cuisine that marks the way to a better, healthier future for nature and men alike.
León’s passion for respect for the sea gomes beyond his own restaurant kitchen. He created an international debate forum focused on sustainability and sustainable practices, ‘Despesques’ held its second annual edition in Cádiz in 2019.