Michelin-starred chef Juan Amador has specified Neolith® surfaces for his latest restaurant, in Vienna, where the kitchens are on show to diners
For two Michelin-starred chef Juan Amador, a career in cookery was not his first choice when he was growing up. In his words, it ‘evolved over time’, maturing like a fine wine until his talent was identified and the merits of his cuisine recognised – ‘You start to get noticed and receive your first ratings.’
Similar to his passion for gastronomy and his culinary skill, Amador’s cuisine has developed gradually over his many years in the kitchen. As he explains: ‘Our foundation has always been, and still is, classic French cookery; we place great value on securing the very best produce and using a repertoire of delicate sauces to enhance the flavour of our food.”
The German chef also highlights the influence of his Spanish heritage, always looking to surprise through pairing juxtaposing ingredients, which result in surprisingly complementary combinations. He encapsulates this side of his approach by using the Catalonian term ‘Mar I Muntanya’ (combining fish and meat in the same dish).
Balancing the classic and the contemporary in unusual and inventive ways extends beyond his dishes to the interior design of his restaurants.
For his latest destination, Amador’s Wirsthaus and Greisslerei in Vienna, Austria, getting the design right was crucial. As the planned space had an open kitchen, everything would be on show and guests’ first impressions would not only be of the dining room, but also the brigade of cooks working to bring Juan’s detailed recipes to reality.
The restaurant is set within a 200-year-old wine cellar with exposed brick arches and vaulted ceilings, representing the historic side of the space. At ground level, consistent with his philosophy, Amador wanted to incorporate modern elements to ensure a visually pleasant contrast for diners.
Opting for a combination of stainless steel and concrete-effect surfacing lent a playful industrial influence to the overall concept.
Hard to resist
Choosing an attractive surface material for the kitchen worktops which also delivered the necessary performance qualities needed careful consideration. As Amador explains: ‘The most important thing, especially for this project, is that the surface is great to handle. It has to remain incredibly stable under the physical rigours of a professional kitchen and robust enough to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations.’
He continues: ‘It also has to be low maintenance, ultra-hygienic and easy to clean. Finally, it needs to look amazing, in this case, I wanted something which looked natural but still adds a modern feel.’
Having been impressed by Neolith’s work with fellow chef Albert Adria on his flagship restaurant, Enigma (Barcelona, Spain), he was inspired to specify the Sintered Stone for his own venture. Amador liked the Sintered Stone’s hyper-realistic interpretation of naturally-hewn stone and the variety of different patterns. He also saw the material’s resistant advantages: ‘We can work with liquid nitrogen at temperatures as low as -190˚C as well as open fires which can get up to 300 ˚C and the worktop maintains its integrity.’
A concrete decision
Returning to aesthetics, to achieve the desired concrete look, Neolith Beton Silk was chosen for the worktops and the central island in the kitchen.
For Amador, the significance of specifying Neolith goes beyond look and feel: ‘It is important to have a big, well-known and experienced company to support you. It inspires confidence as they have the capacity to help realise my vision, but are also flexible should any changes occur to the original brief. Furthermore, given my roots, it was emotionally important to me that Neolith was founded, and is produced, in the country of my ancestors, Spain.’
To be continued…
Amador is keen to maintain his relationship with the brand: ‘We have a couple of restaurants in the planning stage, particularly a hotel in Lisbon which will open next year. Neolith will certainly play a big role in that project.