Patricia Lugo, Mexican talent in Spain

“It is something that is appreciated, those things are not sought. It is valuing what is done and it entails greater responsibility”, comments the Mexican Patricia Lugo, one of the ‘100 Young Talents of Gastronomy’, recently unveiled by the Basque Culinary Center, of the University of the Basque Country, a world reference.

Her appearance on the celebrated list surprised her and she is proud. From Latin America there are only her and Melanie Da Conceiçao Bonilla, Venezuelan, director and barman of the Madrid cocktail bar, Salmón Gurú.

Lugo is a partner and director of management and room at Hamabi, the trendy place in Pamplona with a sun from the Repsol Guide. She set it up two years ago with Rubén González Zubiri and Jon Urrutikoetxea. It is in the emblematic market of Santo Domingo, old town, behind the Town Hall, where the chupinazo of the Sanfermines, the June festivities.

“I don’t consider myself a room manager because it is the daily service and that position is Tania Carrasco,” she says in a telephone conversation.

Lugo is in the Entrepreneurship category: room management and direction. It is for people under 30 years old and she is 29. The profiles are varied — communication, production (ranchers, farmers, fishermen), start ups, pastry, confectionery —, many without ties to the faculty, like her.

“There are people who sign up or nominate you, as has been my case.” The wine was the spark that unleashed the events that led up to this moment. She studied cooking at the Claustro de Sor Juana, she was going to be a confectioner and when she finished, she did a wine diploma from the Association of Mexican Sommeliers (ASM). Later, she participated in a project in La Rioja in Mexico and was a sommelier in an importer owned by Mexican businessman Otto Monsiváis, but management, the commercial issue of wine, marketing, pushed her to Spain in 2015.

“I found a master’s degree at EAE Business School in Barcelona. This is how I met several winemakers”, he says, including those from Vila Viniteca, the powerful distributor of Quim Vila, where he had a very good relationship with Marta Pupparelli, director of R&D&i.

Shortly after, he received an offer to work in El Barri, Albert Adrià’s group. “That’s where my transformation began.”

The challenge: management, logistics, digitization of resources, raw materials, salaries, costs of six different restaurants. To this day, he continues to collaborate on it. In this environment, she met Rubén and Jon who, after a long process and then the pandemic, fulfilled the desire for a small, cozy place, in a different square from Barcelona, ​​Madrid. This is how they arrived in Pamplona, ​​where their partners were born. The Hamabi has two concepts. “We were never attracted by a gastronomic restaurant with a long tablecloth… The inspiration comes from the Barri, el Bulli, from that well thought-out food, for the staff.

We set the scene with violins because we are in a concert hall, Zentral, which we proposed to manage and it is on the first floor of the market. Our principle is ‘Not everything is cooking, but everything is cooking’.

“We take care of the details, we buy the crockery at a flea market, the one that reminds us of our grandmother. Hamabi is a play on words in Basque. Hamabi is “twelve” in Basque, which sounds like “ama”, “mother” and “bi” is “two”. For us it is a nod to temporality, agriculture, 12 months and the fact that we have two mothers: Catalonia and Navarra.

There are two menus: family meal with dishes to share and downtown. The Serendipia is more elaborate and technical, priced at 50 euros, about a thousand pesos.

The room is also part of his career. He worked at the age of 17 in the mythical Alaia, Mexico City, commanded by Alberto Ituarte, who currently marks a presence in San Sebastián (Spain) with his Aitana restaurant.

We comment that the reception is key and strategic because it is the first thing that the client sees, sniffs, follows attentively towards the table. The 5.0 diner expects pampering, advice on drinks, menu. You want discretion, zero stress and delicious food.

If for some reason the food failed, but the service was fantastic, forget it. Instead, if the treatment is impolite, she runs away and spreads the word. “Professionalism is essential”, reiterates Lugo.

The kitchen and management team at Hamabi, the sensation restaurant. PHOTOS: HAMABI, BCC, REPSOL, PATRICIA LUGO

Young Mexicans shine in Spain with food

During this year, Mexican food has had a boom in Spain. In different gastronomic meetings some of the Mexicans have stood out. In France and Spain. On this occasion Patricia Lugo is one of the ‘100 Young Talents of Gastronomy’, recently unveiled by the Basque Culinary Center, the university of the Basque Country, a world leader.