“We don’t really know how to define what we’re doing, that’s why we use the word show – or Xow.”
I was in a theatre in Madrid, having just watched the first showing of EL XOW, a 10-minute film about people eating some of the astounding dishes created by David Muñoz of DiverXO, the city’s only restaurant to have been awarded three Michelin stars. The film is explosive, in every sense – but you would expect nothing less really. Although, where Muñoz is concerned, you never know what to expect at all.
Since winning that coveted third star last year, Muñoz’s world does indeed seem to have exploded and he is skedaddling to even greater gastronomic heights. After the screening of the film, he sat on the stage and talked – at breakneck speed – about some of the things he’s up to at the moment, including moving his StreetXO, his street food restaurant, to a new location in Madrid and opening in London.
“In London we are now aiming for mid January, 2015. In Madrid, it will be around November 23rd. The new venues will be very different from the current one. You enter from the street and find yourself on another sort of street, where there are lots of people eating, there are lots of people cooking and that’s about it. No waiters. Just cooks and diners. It’s going to be crazy but that’s what street food is all about. When people leave, they should feel they have been on a rollercoaster, that they have been part of a show. I want it to have the energy of Singapore or New York.”
A few months ago, Muñoz moved DiverXO to the NH Collection Eurobuilding hotel, where it is now the flagship restaurant in a gastronomic hub where top chef Paco Roncero and leading cocktail barman Diego Cabrera also have spaces, along with Sushi 99, one of Madrid’s best Japanese restaurants.
“We needed to move somewhere a bit bigger and our base of operations has remained here in Madrid thanks to the support of NH hotels. But we want to take things to other parts of the world. Since getting the third star we have been taking stock, getting out of our comfort zone and breaking our own rules. I want to show that there is another way of doing Michelin-starred cuisine; I want people to have a different sort of gastronomic experience.”
Muñoz also enthused about how dynamic the food scene is in Madrid right now. “What is happening here is not happening anywhere else in Spain. Madrid hasn’t always been the pioneer of new trends, but the gastronomic movida that’s going on here is amazing. Of course, it’s not just about DiverXO and StreetXO, it’s about gastronomy from top to bottom, from places that cost €20 or €40 to those where you pay €100 or more. The variety is brutal, like there’s never been before in Madrid.”
Muñoz was asked why butterflies are a signature motif in his restaurants. “It’s about that feeling of having butterflies in your stomach when you don’t really know what’s going to happen next. That’s the emotion I want people to feel, that apprehension, that twinge of anxiety you get when you are about to encounter something totally new.”
Let the Xow begin…