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Chef Xavier Lahuerta returns to Mercer Barcelona kitchen

When Jean Luc Figueras -Executive Chef of the Mercer Barcelona- passed away in 2014, Chef Xavier Lahuerta (Barcelona, 1975) takes over the gastronomic direction of the Hotel, succeeding one of his mentors for over a year. Then, Lahuerta decides to embark on a new stage of gastronomic exploration. Now he returns to the Mercer with a new look.


Let's move to your origins. Tell us about your first influences...

Throughout my childhood I saw my two grandmothers work in the kitchen. This made that at the age of 16 I clearly knew what my profession would be. My grandmothers knowledge and passion were the starting points.

How was your career?

My generation has been behind the Michelin starred Chefs with the goal to learn from them while working on their projects. In my case, I worked in some of the best restaurants of Catalan cuisine for 20 years, with great teachers like Xavier Pellicer, Santi Santamaria, Carles Gaig, Ferran Adrià, Carles Abellán and the unfortunately deceased Jean Luc Figueras, with whom I started working at the age of 17. During this time, I was Sous Chef, Chef or Executive Chef at El Bulli, Can Fabes, Abac, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Projectes 24, Rocamador, Grupo Azafrán, El Cercle or New Paradis.

Chef Xavier Lahuerta at the Mercer Barcelona

Then came a professional turning point...

During this first professional period I was developing signature cuisine, Catalan cuisine with French influences following the trail of these great chefs with whom I had the pleasure to collaborate. But there was a time when I decided to stop, reflect on a new mindset and expand my horizons. I think it’s highly recommended, if not essential, to stop and observe. During this time, I made several trips in which I learned new aspects of gastronomy that have allowed me to renew my kitchen, making great quality leap.

What world cuisines have influenced you the most during these trips?

I have traveled a lot to Mexico. For example, in the Mercer Restaurant menu, one of the entrees is the violet roasted carrot that we serve with “poblano mole”. It’s an example of the Mexican cuisine touches in my cookbook. I am also fascinated by the Asian gastronomy, I use several Asian ingredients and techniques, such as the croaker in sashimi also included in the current Mercer menu.

You are an intuitive chef...

Yes, I am a restless, dynamic and intuitive person. In my opinion, it’s necessary to leave the comfort zone, go beyond, expand the limits, be an entrepreneur and bet on new challenges and projects. I try to leave my mark of quality in our gastronomy, being authentic and connecting with people. In this sense, I was recently named as the culinary order member by the "Chaîne des Rôtisseurs" (oldest gastronomic association in the world).

Chef Xavier Lahuerta at the Mercer Barcelona Restaurant

What does it mean for you to return to the Mercer Barcelona kitchen?

Returning to the Mercer is like coming back home. I’m taking the challenge of being in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter with excitement, in a historical building shaped in part of the old Barcino Roman wall, a space with a strong personality and a great reputation in the city. I was one the moments that had made the chef I am today, I am delighted to return and develop my project here.

Mercer Restaurant Barcelona

How would you define your gastronomic proposal at the Mercer?

We offer a combination of traditional recipes with avant-garde techniques and local high quality products. In the Mercer Restaurant menu, we take care of dishes balance, based on few ingredients and well prepared. This are natural and healthy proposals for make our dinners live an emotional experience.

Chef Xavier Lahuerta gastronomy at the Mercer Barcelona Restaurant

A gastronomic memory

I remember the feeling of enjoying eating in a restaurant and not leaving the table trying not to lose any detail, like a stage play.

Your favorite dish

It is difficult to choose a dish when my greatest pleasure is to enjoy eating! But to say one, it would be a dish that brings me knowledge and reflection, feeling and passion, especially that one which makes me feel alive. My favorite dish is “the land and the sea”.

Your favorite restaurant

Many, not only one! It’s hard to choose only a restaurant due to the infinite offer that exists nowadays. Depending on the moment and with whom you share it. But a classic that never fails is “Casa Alfonso”, a restaurant opened since 1934 in Barcelona.

An unavoidable ingredient in your kitchen

Quality is the ingredient in our kitchen must always have, not only from products but also the human asset to feel and work with them.



Mercer Restaurant

Calle dels Lledó, 7. 08002 Barcelona

Reservations: Tel. +34 93 310 74 80 · Email: restaurante@mercerbarcelona.com

Mamen Bonet, Pastry Chef at the Mercer Barcelona

We interview Mamen Bonet, Pastry Chef at the Mercer Hotel Barcelona who creates the treats that surprise our guests every morning...


Bringing together the tangible with the intangible to transform the stay of each guest into an unforgettable experience: This is the philosophy of Mercer Hoteles. In this sense, the Mercer Barcelona pays special attention to the breakfast service where every detail is taken care of to make each morning a gift for the senses.

Mercer Barcelona


Breakfast is served daily from 7.30-11.00am in the unique setting of the Mercer Restaurant, with part of the original Roman wall of the ancient Barcino city as a backdrop. In spring and summer seasons, guests can also enjoy breakfast at the Orange Tree Courtyard, an oasis of absolute tranquility in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.

Mercer Barcelona


Mamen Bonet (Barcelona, 1985), Pastry Chef at Mercer Barcelona, is in charge of the 5-star hotel gourmet breakfasts. Since she joined the Mercer's kitchen, this young baker has added a series of delicious novelties to the breakfast buffet: An assortment of small pieces of art -both sweet and savory- freshly made every morning to make guests fall in love. Mamen is a discreet professional who prefers her creations to speak for herself. Her key principle is "work, work and humility". We chatted with her to discover the sweetest details of Mercer Barcelona.


Why did you decide to work in pastry?

Actually, it was like “to let myself flow". When I was studying Fine Arts, I realized that I wanted to be a cook, so I studied Hospitality and Pastry at the Hofmann School in Barcelona where I lay the foundations of everything I currently know.

Mamen, tell us a bit about your trajectory until you reached Mercer Hoteles...

While I was still, studying at Hofmann School, I did two stages: At Mugaritz and Celler de Can Roca. After that, when I finished my studies, I went to Akelarre again as a stagier. At this point I realized that I wanted to specialize in pastry... First I did an internship in the Dolç Pastry from Yann Duytsche and from there I went to work in several bakeries like Melissa (Athens), Pomme Sucre (Gijón), Moulin Chocolat (Madrid) or Baluard (Barcelona).

How would you describe your profession?

It is often said that pastry is the sweet and measured version of cooking. For me it’s also "a bottomless pit" of tests, knowledge and amusement. Actually, it’s magical to be able to make clients happy or surprise them through your work and the pastry is often associated with happy moments...

Mercer Barcelona

What are your creations at the Mercer Barcelona based on?

I’m basically inspired by the classic pastry cookbook, as well as recipes from my previous experiences that seems delicious to me and from creations of other pastry chefs who share their work in books or social media. And I also like to investigate on my own and try new ideas.

What attributes should have a good pastry chef?

A good pastry chef must have the same characteristics as a good cook: He/she must be disciplined, orderly, responsible and a good colleague. In addition to this, I think it's important to be curious and to learn a bit more each day.

Mercer Barcelona


What do you like most about your job?

I love working with doughs and chocolate (of course!), making fruit tartlets and petit fours. All my elaborations are handmade as pralines, chocolates, brioches... I like to have time to fuss over everything I do. I try to pay attention to details so that guests have a good memory of sweet moments at the hotel. 

What are your favorite ingredients?

I love working with good raw materials. I really enjoy working with chocolate (I also love to eat it!) and all its utilities or subtleties. I am also a fruit lover (such as raspberries, pineapple or apricot) and nuts (especially hazelnut and pistachio).

What do you think a good dessert should contain?

Balance and sobriety, especially in sugars, fats and jellies use.

What is the essential utensil in your work?

In pastry there are many indispensable utensils, but I think that brain, hands and a good oven are primary...

Mercer Barcelona

A cake...

I like the coulant and a good strawberry cake!

Recommend us a patisserie...

The bakery where I learned: Hofmann!

Interview with Rafa Liñán, Executive Chef at Mercer Sevilla

On the occasion of María Luisa Restaurant first anniversary, we interviewed chef Rafa Liñán.


The hotel Mercer Sevilla opened the doors of its María Luisa restaurant one year ago. Since then, the young Sevillian chef Rafa Liñán is in charge of the hotel's kitchen: A year full of challenges that we talk about with the chef.


With only 32 years old, after his time at the Heineken Hospitality School in Seville, chef Rafa Liñán starts his "learning trip". His training goes through kitchens of Hacienda Benazuza (Seville), Zaranda restaurant (Majorca), Calima (Marbella), Casa Alta (Seville) and Cambio de Tercio (London). And after two years in England, he returns to Spain to participate in the opening of the Estimar (chef Rafael Zafra restaurant in Barcelona) and Heart Ibiza (the Cirque du Soleil and Adrià brothers project). The last stop of his trip is in his region, at The Mercer Sevilla restaurant, “María Luisa”.

Mercer Hotel Sevilla

How do you feel having returned home to cook?

I’m happy and excited to return home with the knowledge acquired from all the great chefs and colleagues with whom I have worked during this time [he has collaborated with chefs as Rafa Zafra, Fernando Arellano, Dani García, Javier Padura, Lucas Bernal and Alberto Criado]. And whising to continue to imbibe new stories and experiences.

What kind of cuisine offers María Luisa's menu?

It’s a cuisine based on flavors of our land, Andalusia characteristic flavors, respecting and pampering the product, trying to offer the highest quality and proximity products as possible. The menu, directed by Rafa Zafra, aims to reinvent or, better said, rediscover the traditional Andalusian recipes, contributing new techniques to the cuisine we already know.

María Luisa Restaurant

So... Tradition or avant-garde cuisine?

In this point, I believe that both worlds go hand in hand at María Luisa restaurant. We try to respect the tradition to the maximum trying to doing it by it using more avant-garde techniques that provide a different touch but without losing the essence of the dish.

Where does the inspiration come from?

The inspiration comes from the raw material, from the local product, as well as from the traditional Andalusian recipes books. This is the starting point of our work.

You love Andalusian proximity products...

Having such excellent products in Andalusia as veal, olive oil, mushrooms, etc. we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with them and proudly display our land. For example, bread is served daily from Bollullos town, fish and seafood are brought directly from Huelva and Cádiz: Conil, Isla Cristina, etc.

What dishes would you highlight from María Luisa's menu?

The Al-Andalus Style lamb with cauliflower couscous, the Aracena mushrooms with their jelly and starry eggs, or the Rota style sea bream. These are three dishes that clearly define our intentions: Traditional flavors, proximity products and avant-garde techniques. And they surprise the diner.

Let’s talk about the diner… How is the restaurant customer?

Our customer is everyone who loves good food and drink, open-minded to enjoy something different: Both guests staying at the hotel and other Seville visitors, and of course the Sevillians.

Mercer Hotek Sevilla

What’s the difference between Maria Luisa and other restaurants in Seville?

We offer a different service, in various spaces of the wonderful hotel, which is worth coming just to see its architecture and design... It’s like a “three acts” experience: A drink-aperitif and a series of snacks in the Cocktail Bar, the main dishes in the restaurant and finally we serve our “petit-fours” and coffees in the patio. We guide the diner through a gastronomic tour of the Andalusian flavors.

You are innovators...

Luckily, more and more colleagues are innovating and risking in Seville, and we are part of this group that wants the Sevillian culinary culture to evolve in this line, without losing the heritage of our flavors.

María Luisa Restaurant

Where does your passion for cooking come from?

My relationship with the kitchen begins in my own house, where I lived the love for the good table and good dishes to enjoy together in a family ambience.

An essential ingredient in your kitchen...

A good olive oil and local wines (fino, manzanilla, etc.), of course.


María Luisa Restaurant

Calle Castelar, 26. Seville (Spain)

Tuesday to Saturday, from 13.30 to 15.30h and from 20.30 to 23.30h

Closed Sunday and Monday

See Menu

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