Esteban García shows his passion for his work in the dining room of the restaurant Poems By Padrón Brothers located in the emblematic Hotel Santa Catalina a Royal Hideaway in Las Palmas. He is sommelier and head waiter at the restaurant, which has recently been awarded its first Repsol sun and its first Michelin star. Brothers Juan Carlos and Jonathan Padrón have been developing their creativity for years at El Rincón de Juan Carlos, in Tenerife, and since 2019 they have been reproducing the same philosophy and essence at Poemas.
Estaban García's experience at the Mugaritz restaurant, his professionalism and passion for his work, as well as his eagerness to continue learning and growing, have led him to lead the way and be the protagonist, together with all his team, of a star restaurant in one of the best restaurants in Gran Canaria.
A restaurant with a view of the stars
The recent awards received by Poemas By Hermanos Padrón, estrella y sol, both came in 2021, at a much-needed moment after the hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic during 2020. "Both awards came as a surprise. We received the sol a few months after reopening and it helped us to strengthen ourselves and believe even more in the project," says the sommelier.
Esteban García: "It has always been clear to us that our work is focused on offering the customer a complete gastronomic experience".
"With the star, what happened is that we were sure that El Rincón would revalidate its star, but we didn't expect Poemas to receive the first one". The sommelier and head waiter also affirms that the whole team is very proud of both awards, as they are tangible proof that the work they do is worth while. "The fact that we have won a star makes us a little bit stronger. We don't feel any extra pressure. It has always been clear to us that our work is focused on offering the customer a complete gastronomic experience".
The sommelier's passion, the sommelier's room his place
Esteban García shows true vocation and an unmeasured passion for his work. He has dedicated a lot of time to his training, which he continues to expand today, and this is reflected when working with customers, adapting to them and their tastes, and in the confidence he feels in the dining room. "Wanting to become a sommelier and dedicate myself to the sommelier's world has been my own vocation. The world of wine caught me and I decided to specialise. Without a doubt, it was wine that led me straight to the dining room; if it hadn't been for it, I wouldn't be working in the hotel and catering business today".
Esteban García: "The dining room makes the restaurant experience go from fifty percent to one hundred percent".
For the sommelier, the dining room is a fundamental part of the restaurant, as good cuisine is inconceivable without good service in the dining room; the two go hand in hand. "When we go to a restaurant we always think about the cuisine and leave aside the service, but it is thanks to the service that the experience can go from fifty percent to one hundred percent. The level of the dining room must go hand in hand with that of the kitchen".
For his part, Estaban García says that what he likes most about his job is the hospitality that can be offered to the diner: "Through the dining room we try to make the customer happy". He also explains that the role of the sommelier is fundamental in the restaurant and this is reflected above all in sales, but also in the customer's experience. "That the diner repeats or lets you choose, 'Hey, bring me the wine you want', that gives you confidence in the room and shows you that you have found in the customer an ally who does not hesitate to put himself in your hands".
Esteban García: "The customer is more prepared every day and wants to be better served".
When talking about the current sommelier scene, Esteban García encourages young people to prepare themselves and study, just as chefs do. "The client is more and more prepared every day and wants to be better attended to". As for the importance of the dining room, the sommelier believes that it still plays a secondary role in the restaurant.
"The kitchen is the part that makes a lot of people decide whether or not to go to a restaurant. If the service is bad, the customer will always remember that, no matter how well they have eaten". Of course, he affirms that "the dining room, the sommelier and the kitchen must go hand in hand".
The kitchen and the dining room must be balanced and complement each other well for everything to work: "We, the dining room, are the last point of connection. We are in charge of transmitting to the diner what the chef wants to interpret. We have to know the dishes, the chef's philosophy and know what he wants to transmit with each one of them". The sommelier explains that it is precisely this fact that completes the customer's experience and that, thanks to the gastronomic revolution that the Canary Islands are experiencing, more and more restaurants are betting on a competent dining room at the highest level.
The revolution of the canary revolution
Poemas By Hermanos Padrón has an extensive wine list which includes some 350 references from all over the world. But the restaurant has no doubts about the wine potential of the Canary Islands and dedicates an important section to the island's wines, with around 70 different wines, all from the archipelago. "We are in a privileged location. A region with a unique location, exceptional weather conditions and a very special volcanic soil. This makes our wines unique in the world and we are in charge of bringing them to the customer".
Esteban García: "We are looking for that producer, that area, that wine that we love".
For Poemas their wine list is very important and they are constantly working on it: "We look for that producer, that area, that wine that we love and that we like to share with our customers", explains Esteban García and adds that each restaurant should have its own wine list adapted to its philosophy and what it intends to transmit.
This commitment to Canarian wines is also reflected in the pairing offered by the restaurant. A sequence of six different wines, all from the Canary Islands, specially selected to accompany the menu offered by the restaurant and with which they aim to take you on a journey through the islands, showcasing the native and unique varieties of the archipelago.
Speaking of the Canary Islands as the epicentre of both a wine and gastronomic revolution, Esteban García says that in recent years people have realised the unique potential of the islands, both in terms of their wines and their gastronomy.
"Wine has been made in the archipelago for many years, but what is being made now are real wines, without masking, that taste like the Canary Islands," he explains, adding that "The archipelago is on a par with other areas renowned for their gastronomic tradition. We have great potential and we are showing it. In the end,we were always looking for that part of providing a tourist service and we had forgotten about creating our own gastronomy , and that has now changed".
If you want to know more about working in the dining room or in the kitchen, here are some other interviews that may be of interest to you: Aida González, storyteller in the dining room; Safe Cruz, pure rock & roll in the kitchen.
Photos: Instagram; Guía Repsol