Carlos Maldonado, chef
He stars in his own documentary series on RTVE Play, where he takes a trip to his adolescence
The most mediatic winner of ‘MasterChef’ tells his life in a new documentary series that is available on the RTVE Play platform. Chef Carlos Maldonado (Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, 31 years old) reveals his origins in ‘Raíces’ and travels from that rebellious young man who helped his father in street vending to becoming the first chef to come out of the program who gets a star Michelin with its own restaurant. “It has been a daily struggle and I am not working more or less than a normal person,” he defends.
-What are the ‘Roots’ of Carlos Maldonado?
-Depending on where we put the timeline, I can tell you some roots or others. If we delve into the basis of why I am like this, I think that the personality of each one is built since you are a child. I could blame, in a very affectionate and kind way, that house in the country surrounded by a family atmosphere, with my parents and sister, with the river nearby and that train track that passed by… That builds you as a person and those roots come from there .
-In the documentary series he talks about his childhood and adolescence. What remains of that kid who has now achieved professional success?
-It remains to question it. Asking yourself ‘why did you do that’. I look at him now and I regret it, but I wouldn’t change anything from the past, because he is the one who brought me here. We all pay for those acts, they are reflected in consequences and we are covering that debt we owed to society. But I don’t know what’s left of him. You may be a bastard, but you’re not a bad person. He alone was a little lost and lost, with certain fears and misunderstandings that are vented in incorrect terms.
How important is your father in your life?
-He is my best friend. I can count on my parents for both the bad and the good. When you commit an act that is not correct, we stumble together. For success, they leave it to you alone. They have taught me to speak in the plural when we have achieved a star, because one alone does not go anywhere. We all row in the same direction. My parents are a part of me and the ones who have built this person.
“It has been a daily struggle and I am not working more or less than a normal person”
-We see him very attached to his land. Has he not considered moving to another city?
-Where am I going to go better than to Talavera! (laughs). You can’t get me out of the house, I mess it up. I think that a restaurant like ‘Raíces’ can only be in Talavera and I have the philosophy of sweeping home, betting on our land. Because you are also surrounded by your own. I don’t feel identified with other cities, I only have one. And when I’m gone for more than a month, I miss her.
“Don’t stop paddling”
-Have you had to work hard to get to where you are?
I am neither better nor worse than before. We haven’t arrived because we keep rowing and you arrive when you stop rowing. Setting up a restaurant with the best team and the best family and understanding that way of seeing the kitchen as a consequence brings you a well-known restaurant or being able to do interviews like this one. It has been a daily struggle and I am not working any more or less than a normal person, who tries to overcome day by day. They have not given us anything, I assure you, but we continue fighting to satisfy our needs, which are ambitious and nonconformist.
-Hasn’t it given you vertigo to open your life in a documentary?
-I have vertigo due to ignorance and not knowing what interest a documentary can produce to people with a somewhat complex life but, at the same time, kind and affectionate. But it is not a more difficult life than that of another person with whom you cross the street and you can feel identified with her. We all have a story that deserves to be told and that, captured in a documentary, would be of interest. There are successes and setbacks, but you learn from everything.
-He is the first winner of ‘MasterChef’ with a Michelin star. How do you take this award?
-We have taken the path, in quotes, of haute cuisine, of exposing a gastro-artistic history through dishes, which are not created to please everyone. That union between the star and ‘MasterChef’ has a lot to do with it, because without the television program I would not be here. It has given me everything, but the creation of the concept and development of a restaurant has been done by a team that fights every day.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.