Chef Manuel Melcón adapts his travels to his cuisine to offer them in his “Vesta Taberna” venue.
When Manuel Melcón returned to Spain after having triumphed in the best kitchens in Europe, he decided to start his own restaurant in the rhythm of order, ecology and smiles. Therefore, northwest of Madrid, in San Lorenzo de Escorial, Manuel wakes up every day with his loyal team to delight diners with his innovative and wild cuisine in Vesta Taberna.
What is the experience like inside Vesta Taberna?
Our goal is to make people happy. That’s the basis. We are all a staff of very lively people, who really like what we do. It’s a very small place, so we have to take care of every detail, like the noise. I have never been good at defining my concept because we like to talk with our cuisine.
Following your menu, is it a way to make people happy to use wild products?
Yes, we are always going to have something from the wild at Vesta Taberna. In winter it is complicated. But it is something that the diner, when he arrives and sees that the products we use are harvested by us and we have given them that love, he notices it. You can tell that they appreciate something so real, so close, the fact that the person who serves you at the table was four hours ago picking the product on the floor.
How have you designed your menu?
In spring and autumn, we focus on mushrooms and fungi from our area. Boletus with fried eggs, which come from my own chickens, are always a hit. Another dish that is always requested in the spring season is the white asparagus, which we make with hollandaise sauce fused with a white thyme from the mountains. This translates very well the philosophy that we have of human closeness and ecology with the customer.
What was your main motivation for opening Vesta Taberna?
It was all very casual. I was 30 years old when I opened it. I had just landed from Copenhagen, passing through France, Mexico, Canada and England. When I arrived in Spain, the job market was bad, but after working all over the world and already having an important level of knowledge in the kitchen, I decided to open my own restaurant.
I did a market study in the mountains of Madrid, where I am currently based in San Lorenzo del Escorial, and I realized that it was feasible to make a different cuisine in my town. In Vesta Taberna we do Spanish cuisine, but after being in several places, I give a touch of everything. There are dishes from French cuisine, Mexican, and some with signature cuisine.
What is the difference between working for someone else and leading your own restaurant?
A lot of things. Personally, it’s a fantastic freedom (to be an owner) and I wish it to everyone. One of these differences is the concept we follow, under the idea of slow food and slow life. We are only open 4 days a week, and that allows our team to have 3 days off. This is something I am very proud of and, as you ask me, it is a very big difference. Now I have time to organize myself the way I want, with a wonderful team and where everyone supports each other.