"I don't cook for the customers, and I don't say this in a very egocentric, in a chauvinistic way," he said. "I am actually only serving one purpose, and that is to fill my inner dreams to make sure that I am happy with what I am cooking. If, as a chef, I am able to please myself, then I can please you and I can please everyone else."
He says he wants his staff to have that experience, as well. Although they are working to support Andrés' vision, his chefs are also encouraged to bring their own interpretation to each meal, "giving them the opportunity to slowly but surely, bringing a little bit of what everyone is into my world. And if I balance this, then I have successful restaurants," he said.
Andrés' goals are sky-high, and his definition of creativity suggests perfectionism. "Creativity is, 'What can I do to this glass of water today that never ever in the history of mankind has been done before?'" he said. "Ninety-nine point nine, nine, nine percent of the times, no answer, but I live for that 0.1 percent that actually we are able to do something as we did that has not been done before. A glass of water, a simple humble glass of water at the end becomes the biggest challenge. That is what I try to do every day of my life."
He prefers that new customers arrive at his restaurants a blank slate, without preconceptions.
"Let's be like children, when you see things for the first time," he said. "I love my children when they see something for the first time and they are amazed. I think in the today life we live, everyone knows so much about everything, so many news, so many Web, so many everything, that the world is not fun anymore, because we know it."
"I can tell you that, for my eating habits, I hate to taste the same thing two days in a row. One of the issues I had at my house is when my daughters, my wife, ask me for the same dish and I say, 'Not again. No, no, no. No way José.'"
There are foods he can't get enough of, however. "I love the pure flavors that the world gives us, and oyster is a pure flavor. It is the sea water protein, no? I love that. I love the pure flavor of Iberico ham, the acorn-fed pork. I love the pure flavor of caviar."
That purity of flavor translates to his cooking, as well. He'll forego adding additional ingredients, in hopes of giving people an immediate burst of flavor. Waiting any longer than three seconds is a waste of your day, he says. "Those three seconds is what I live for. That is the way I like to eat, and that is the way I like to cook. The three great seconds of flavor. Everything else, I like to put it on the side."
His three-second rule is yet another of Andrés' lofty goals, but one fitting for a man who believes there is no end point in the pursuit of elegant, clean cooking.
"After the end," he said, "there is a corner to be turned, no?'"
With each new bend in the road, Andrés intends to find out.