He grew up between stoves and pigeons in Tierra de Campos and, learning about that rich culinary tradition, later joined the training with the recently deceased Luis Irizar, considered the father of the new Basque cuisine. He worked in Madrid, set up his own restaurant in Toro and thirteen years ago he returned to his town, Castroverde de Campos, to take charge of the family restaurant and transform it into the temple of hunting cuisine that today is the Lera restaurant. Its owner and chef, Luis Alberto Lera, has just collected his first Michelin star.
What does it mean to be in the Michelin Guide with a star after decades as a chef?
It is always a thank you, although our main premise of Lera has never been to receive awards, or be in any guide.
Our goal is to create a unique restaurant; yes it is true that all the prizes that are grateful are and, obviously, being a Michelin star, well, much more, there is no doubt.
What can this star mean for game cuisine in general, which is what they are specialized in?
As there are not many restaurants specialized in hunting, I do not know very well what it represents, although hunting as such I think it is very good, because you put in value a product that apparently was in disuse, and it showed because there were many restaurants that They used had disappeared due to the little rural life. Yes, it is true that it will also come in handy for them to see that there are other types of businesses and projects.
In that guide there are not many restaurants more specialized in hunting.
I’m not sure, but it is clear that it represents a before and after for restaurants with our format, with a rural setting, a very clear offer and a very particular vision.
Does it also suppose in a certain way an award to the cuisine of what they call ‘Empty Spain’ and to the kitchens of the towns?
Hopefully that is also it! In the end, it is an award for the restaurant, but hopefully it will also be awarded to all rural restaurants, that the guides increasingly go to these types of establishments and, above all, that there are more and more and people believe again in those places and everything that moves, and to make a differentiating kitchen.
What is the secret to getting the Michelin star?
If I knew I would have gotten it sooner, I have no idea what the secret is. In our case, I work, work and work, doing things well and, above all, something essential in Lera, which is that the customer is always the reason for the restaurant. The secret goes out there.
Such a hard year for the sector due to Covid, how has Lera restaurant handled it?
It has been a very hard year for a sector that has been hit hard like the hospitality industry, which not only has not received any financial but also moral aid. In fact, it has been very morally punished as a collective. For this reason, that they give you prizes and have years like this one in 2021, which we have had very good, always encourages us to move forward, although it is true that 2020 was a very hard year for everyone.
With what menu do you plan to celebrate the recognition?
-I’m not very to celebrate. In Lera everything will continue the same, he will see very few changes. It’s going to be like the last six years, with changes very little by little, very relaxed. There will not be a radical change, it will be a continuity of what we have been doing this time because for us the main thing is always the client, the team and the people around us and from there we will continue working and whatever has to come. .
Are not then going to raise prices now that they are in the Olympus of restaurants? Are you expecting a lot of reservations after appearing in the guide?
Reservations, quite a bit. Before this, a month ago, we were already giving for April and May. El Lera is a restaurant that, since we opened, has always worked quite well and especially in 2019 and 2021, for which I am very grateful to my clients and my team. As for a price increase, I do not have it planned because the Lera is going to follow the same path and the same format, although each time we will have more self-demand.
What menu does a Michelin star chef like you have planned for Christmas Eve?
That day we closed because we have people from all over the national geography and we have to give them a few days off so that they can go see their family. At home I have not had time to think about it but we will have a delicious dinner with the family and we will celebrate this and life, which is the important thing.
How has your return to Castroverde de Campos (Zamora) been after working in other places in Spain?
-I came back thirteen years ago and six years ago we started Lera’s project. We are very happy with everything we are collecting, the main thing is the love of the people and the entire team.