"Our cuisine doesn't aim to adopt the easy approach of reconstruction, but to contribute something new by working with the flavours that we grew up with"
About 8 years ago I first met Kiko Moya at a culinary event in the South of France where I was with my oldest son Brice. His calm and imposing appearance stood out there among the lively and noisy French.
Soon were talking about his background and restaurant. Like many chefs, Kiko grew up in the kitchen.
L'Escaleta is originally a family restaurant that was founded in 1980 in a cellar in the town of Cocentaina, a municipality in the Spanish province of Alicante in the region of Valencia.
It is located between the mountainous Serra de Mariola national park and the Serpis river and has a beautiful view of the mountains of Alicante.
You can't imagine a better gastronomic place if you see the amazing landscape!
The two young couples who ran the restaurant started to became known in the region, making the restaurant the gastronomic benchmark in Alicante.
One of the couples were Francisco and Rita, Kiko's parents.
After graduating in 1998, Kiko joined the team and in 1999, the restaurant moved to a large family house on the outskirts of Cocentaina that offered more comfort to the customers and the family.
In November 2000, the Michelin Guide of Spain and Portugal awarded him his first recognition in the 2001 edition. In January of the same year, his cousin Alberto, the eldest son of Ramiro and Nieves of the other couple, joined as a sommelier. In 2017 L ’Escaleta gets its second Michelin Star from the Michelin Guide of Spain and Portugal 2017.
Over the years, Kiko developed himself and modified his cooking style.
A slow process in search of its own identity which is based on flavors from the region and results in a thoughtful, calm, intimate kitchen, where almost every ingredient is fully recognizable and without surprises, which he doesn't think a real gourmet needs.
Kiko’s cooking style blends simple local food with cutting-edge culinary techniques which has led them to win two Michelin Stars and three Repsol Soles awards. Its outstanding quality has also been recognized by the Royal Spanish Academy of Gastronomy, awarding Alberto Redrado with the title of "Best sommelier in Spain" during 2019.
A few years ago I flew to Alicante with my two sons, Brice and Jules, to have dinner at Kiko. I was too curious to experience his story with my own eyes.
Kiko picked us up at the hotel and we drove through the beautiful countryside to the restaurant.
We enjoyed a good glass of champagne and some delicious amuse-bouche on the beautiful terrace overlooking the fruit and vegetable garden and the mountains.
The question from my youngest son was of course inevitable...'may I have a look in the kitchen'?
He has already done some kitchens with a number of chefs and who am I to stop that curiosity, which is so recognizable to me.
A little later my oldest and I were sitting at the chef's table and the youngest was standing in the kitchen with Kiko.
It was an incredible experience of all dishes that were put together fantastically one by one. The balance in taste, technique, structure, temperature, appearance... and this was reinforced by the story behind each dish. Each ingredient had its own place in the dish. That was really thought about and resulted in beautiful and simple dishes.
If I had lived in the area I would be standing in front of the restaurant with every new menu. Unfortunately now I can only look at the pictures of the dishes and imagine a certain taste with it.
In any case, an absolute must if you are heading that way.
Subida la Estacion del Norte, 205