My life in food.

In the late 70’s I discovered a talent and passion for something that took me by surprise: restaurants and food. 

My first venture into the world of gastronomy was the opening of a small restaurant in Madrid, "Mi Pueblo". This was in partnership with two close friends and we spent months planning it. It was to be based on home-style cooking, have an earthy atmosphere and communal seating. The atmosphere and food orientation worked wonderfully but the communal seating at long rectory-like tables was an immediate flop. That changed very rapidly. We just sawed the tables down to two-tops. Problem solved!

We divided the responsibilities and I was in charge of the food and kitchen. I learned a lot during the time I was a partner but after three years I split to open my own restaurant where I would be what I had dreamed: the chef.

I found a space in a village 50 kms. out of Madrid and in 1982 I opened La Gamella with a partner. As I did not have the time or money to go to cooking school, I devoured how-to-cook books and it all made sense to me as a chef. I developed my own style and forged on. Thanks to very good press and my own determination, the restaurant was a big success. In 1985 I took the leap and re-located to Madrid close to the Royal Palace and my home. Then in 1988 I once again moved to what is now the permanent location right across the street from the beautiful Retiro Park.

Through my collaboration with the Alambique cooking school and a close relationship with Clara Maria Amezua, I was invited numerous times to the US for culinary events as a chef from Madrid.

It was a long, satisfying and profitable experience up to my retirement in 2004.

La Gamella continues to exist with new owners.

At present (and to keep my finger in the pie), I am working on a book/memoir/recipes that I am calling (provisionally) Pots and Pains. My adventures and misadventures in Spain. Hope to publish sometime in the future.

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        © Richard Stephens Ely 2019