For Barcelona’s First Female Sake Sommelier and a Nomadic Chef, Food Is a Simple Performance
Everyone is obsessed with the weird when it comes to food, but an up-and-coming pair in Barcelona are weirdly focused on the normal. After extensive travels together, including stays in Japan and Peru, Chef Sebastian Mazzola and his romantic partner Sussie Villarico are not bringing home poisonous fish to eat, or mushrooms to drink. Instead, Mazzola returned with the desire to spotlight the simple flavors that can be drawn from the potatoes in a side dish, or the onions in a ceviche. And Villarico, who became fascinated with sake pairings on the road, is trying to convince Spaniards that it’s okay to stray from their beloved local wines once in a while. “Sake…it’s really light, and makes you fly. You can keep it fun for a long time without getting too heavy or too drunk,” she says convincingly.
The couple met in 2011 while both working at 41°, the Barcelona restaurant run by gastronomic gods Ferran and Albert Adrià. In 2013, Mazzola and Villarico left to found the roving culinary company Cooking in Motion, winning accolades for delivering pop-up food experiences everywhere from the Tate Modern in London to IK Restaurante in Lima, Peru. They have certainly delivered unusual cuisine: at Door 19 Arthouse in Moscow the pair made a sushi-Nordic mashup of salmon infused with beetroot served with burnt cucumber, dill and horseradish.
And now the nomads are bringing it all back to Barcelona again. Mazzola, 34, is originally from Argentina and Villarico, 31, was born in Denmark; but the Catalan capital changed them, and now they want to give back through food. Their 12-seat La Nave de Sake opened in 2017, where dishes are paired only with Japan’s finest sake.
This year has the couple overseeing the launch of the restaurant and food and beverage offerings at the new Barcelona EDITION, located next to the famous Santa Caterina market. They aim to bring a playful artiness to the plates at EDITION, and their knowledge of local purveyors to the ingredients, while hiring staff who bring a desire to deliver something special to visitors. “Eating out in hotels is not something that is very usual here,” Mazzola explains. “But if you do things right and you do it with love, then time puts things in their place.” Fortunately for us, that time is this summer, when the Barcelona EDITION officially opens for business