Iciar Pérez, a native of the island of El Hierro, at 29 years old, runs the restaurant Poemas By Hermanos Padrón located in the emblematic Santa Catalina a Royal Hideaway Hotel in the heart of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The restaurant opened its doors in 2019 and has not stopped reaping success since then, with 2021 being a year of celebration for the whole team. With a gastronomic proposal marked by the unmistakable Canarian flavor and international influences and textures, Poemas By Hermanos Padrón has been recognized with its first Michelin star and its first Repsol sun in last year's editions, becoming, in addition, the first restaurant recognized with a star in the capital of Gran Canaria.
Iciar Pérez: "Any recognition is good and motivates us to want to go further and be better".
Similarly, the young chef has had no rest between so much success, as she had already been awarded as Best Head Chef in the XXXV Gastronomy Awards organized by Diario de Avisos, but in 2021 she was recognized as Best Chef of the Canary Islands 2021 in the Qué Bueno Mahou awards: "It caught me completely by surprise, I do not consider myself the best by far. I still have a lot to learn, but I feel very lucky, any recognition is good and motivates us to want to go further and be better".
Constant pursuit of excellence
Both the Repsol sun and the Michelin star came at a necessary moment, after the pause caused in the sector by the pandemic during 2020. When talking about both recognitions, Iciar does not hesitate to define that feeling as one of absolute happiness. "To be recognized for a job well done is an incentive for the whole team, especially in such a demanding profession. We are still in a "dream", we are not really aware of the magnitude of what we have achieved".
In addition, the chef recalls both moments with great enthusiasm: "First came the Repsol sun. Juan Carlos Padrón brought us together to tell us about it. After almost a year of pandemic, the fact that we were awarded motivated us a lot. As for the Michelin gala, I traveled with the Padrón family to Valencia. Those were very nervous days because, until the moment when "Las Palmas" appeared on the screen, nothing was certain".
Having a Michelin star has made the restaurant position itself and climb within the wide world of gastronomy. It has also encouraged the visit of customers, increasing exponentially its volume and even motivating reservations in the hotel itself, as many of them do it to spend one or more nights if they get a table at Poemas By Hermanos Padrón. "We don't feel a greater pressure since we have the star, we continue working in the same line, in the constant search for excellence," explains Iciar.
A herreña among suns and stars
Iciar Pérez is a native of the island of El Hierro. She grew up there and completed her first studies, later moving to Tenerife, where she completed a Higher Degree in Kitchen Management at the Hotel Escuela de Santa Cruz. "I remember the beginnings with great affection, I have always been lucky to meet great professionals willing to teach me and help me", says the chef.
Iciar Pérez: "I remember the beginnings with great affection".
As for her vocation, the head chef explains that it came to her spontaneously, since no one in her family had dedicated themselves professionally to gastronomy: "I chose cooking because it was something I had always been curious about and at home, whenever I could, I got into it".
Iciar met the Padrón brothers during her previous gastronomic consultancy at the Maresía restaurant, located at the Royal Hideaway Corales Resort Hotel, in the south of Tenerife. "I had previously worked with Mario González, who was going to be their new head chef, and he proposed me to be part of the Maresía project," explains the Herreña chef. "I started as a cook and after a year I decided to go to Bilbao for an internship. When I told the Padrón brothers, they proposed me to be the head chef of their new project in Las Palmas", says Iciar Pérez and adds that, on her return from Bilbao, she went straight to the island to prepare the opening of Poemas By Hermanos Padrón.
Iciar Perez: "I am lucky to be surrounded by a great team that motivates me to be better every day".
The chef describes the Padróns' cuisine as a product and flavor cuisine in which the brothers have the great virtue of combining products and getting the most out of them without masking them or without many embellishments. This, along with the opportunity to continue learning every day and the entire restaurant team, is what inspires her the most: "I am lucky to be surrounded by a great team that motivates me to be better every day".
Iciar Pérez explains that the moment of greatest concentration of the day occurs when the service begins: "I am always at the pass, singing the orders, plating and verifying that everything is perfect". She also adds that this profession is beautiful, but very hard: "The hardest part of my job is the long days we work, which involve being away from home on the most important dates of the year". This is why, when she has free time, the chef spends it visiting her family, as well as going to the beach, visiting restaurants and traveling.
Undoubtedly, Poemas By Hermanos Padrón, with Iciar Pérez at the helm of the kitchen, is an elegant restaurant. With a classic spirit and located in a hotel with a lot of history. Where to go for a full dining experience and enjoy good service, good food and drink.
Photos: Edu Gorostiza | @gorostizaphotography