Jun 28, 2024

Chef Juan Carlos Ferrando: “Haute Cuisine can also be Traditional”

Chef Juan Carlos Ferrando’s philosophy is that haute cuisine can be applied, undisguised, to traditional fare. Ferrando, a native of Buenos Aires, learned his trade following French culinary traditions at the Lycée Français in his hometown.

After arriving in Spain in 2001, Juan Carlos Ferrando learned from experience in several top restaurants in La Rioja and the Basque Country that using locally sourced ingredients from northern Spain, prepared with a personal flair, was his calling.

We recently enjoyed one of Ferrando’s tasting menus, ‘Cruce de Caminos’ (Crossroads). It’s a term that aptly describes La Rioja and Rioja Alavesa’s place on the Ebro river and the Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago de Compostela. Juan Carlos Ferrando Restaurant has been recognized with the Best Of Wine Tourism Award.


Juan Carlos Ferrando Restaurant


The Crossroads menu that day was:


Three types of French bread and butter
‘Gilda’ – a popular ‘pintxo’ (more about this at the end of the article)
Hake fritter and black garlic ali oli
Argentine style roast chicken ‘empanada’ (a half-moon fried pastry filled with meat, fish or vegetables and one of the world’s best finger foods)
Prawn and spring onion salad
Green bean pods and fresh foie with ‘carbonara’ sauce
Terrine of black pudding, jelly and mustard seeds

Fish of the Day

Roasted hake and creamy cauliflower

Meat of the day

Braised boneless beef tail ‘au jus’


Creamy vanilla ice cream flavored with fruit and extra virgin olive oil
Vanilla ice cream with a citrus fruit and peanut topping


Juan Carlos Ferrnado Restaurant in Rioja


As you can see from the photo gallery, each of Ferrando’s creations is immediately recognizable as a well-liked northern Spanish dish. This is a departure from pure nouvelle cuisine where traditional dishes are transformed into a different shape using deconstruction, foams, airs, spherification and other tools while keeping the taste of the original dish.

Home cooked meals aren’t prepared with the above techniques, but when tasting the dishes in the Crossroads menu, one is tempted to say, “the next time I roast fish in the oven, why don’t I add creamy cauliflower when I plate the dish?”

Ferrando’s cuisine is an array of dishes that inspire us to take our own techniques to a higher level.

Note about the ‘gilda’: Arguably northern Spain’s most popular pintxo (food on a skewer). The gilda was created at the Bar Vallés in San Sebastian in the mid-20th century. The ingredients are a spicy green pepper, an olive and an anchovy. The name is inspired by the actress Rita Hayworth in the movie Gilda because it is “verde”, “salado” y “picante”. Literally green, salty and spicy, where “green” in this case means “naughty”.

Ferrando adds a little piece of corn, a favorite Argentine food, and a slice of red pepper for color.

The excellent gastronomy of the chef Juan Carlos Ferrando is accompanied by the superb pairing and service of Rioja wines by Zuriñe Ortiz.


Restaurante Juan Carlos Ferrando
María Teresa Gil de Gárate 7
26002 Logroño (La Rioja)

Contact & Reservations

T: +34 941 21 47 95


Juan Carlos Ferrando Restaurant


Text and menu photo by Tom Perry, Inside Rioja

Featured and interior photos: Juan Carlos Ferrando Restaurant.

Learn more about Bilbao-Rioja Great Wine Capitals