She began washing dishes and is now the chef at El Club Allard. María Marté is an example of courage, great cooking and accomplished dreams.
She says she never drinks coffee standing up because it ruins her dreams. And she is not the kind of person who sits around waiting for an opportunity to come around. Her hard work has made her go from dishwasher to holding two Michelin stars at Club Allard.
María Marté is all about fun. When she speaks, she lets out that whirlwind of energy and optimism, in spite of everything. Many things have happened in Marté’s life over these past thirteen years but now, the Dominican chef is living her dream. Her hard work running El Club Allard in 2014 has allowed her to renew the two Michelin stars her predecessor, Diego Guerrero, had already acquired. “If miracles exist, that night was a brilliant miracle,” she says. “We were finally able to say the stars were María’s. It was a dream come true,” she says. Marté isn’t Cinderella, though, and that night wasn’t her prom night next to prince charming. She is a fighter. She came to Spain with her son Julio in 2003 and started working at Club Allard cleaning and washing dishes. From her place near the dishwasher, she watched chefs run up and down and wished she were one of them. One night, while having dinner, the valet asked her: “So, Dominicana, what do you want to be when you grow up?” To which she answered “a cook” and he mentioned that a position was about to open. She built up the courage to speak to Diego Guerrero and asked him for the job, to which he refused. “I understand, he didn’t know me at all. I wasn’t ready,” says Marté. After several attempts, she finally earned Guerrero’s trust, who at first would only let her wash the dishes. Three months later, her good deeds made Guerrero look for a dishwasher to substitute her and she began working in the kitchen.
Maybe it’s thanks to that promotion that she begins each day at 10 am by saying hello to each person on her team, or perhaps it’s because she knows and recognizes that they too are key to maintaining a top restaurant’s success. She starts at the bakery, then goes to the cold room and finishes right at the dishwasher, where they make the coffee.” It is a daily ritual, as important as going out to greet customers at each table,” a walk she takes after every meal is finished. She never misses a shift, she doesn’t like it. She treats her team as “family” to show and accompany them, as well as lead and ask for responsibilities. “I try to transmit happiness. I never get tired of explaining the reason behind each dish,” she says.
Her dishes are works of art in which one can perceive an extreme respect for the product, her Caribbean creativity and the tenderness of her craft. Each detail must be perfect. That’s why she can’t stand a broken plate. That and drinking coffee standing up because “my mother said that if you did, your plans would go to waste.” If there is something she regrets from the past 13 years, it is “not having been able to be near my parents when they were sick.” Nevertheless, her three children are proud of their strong mother who fought for three years to raise the twins (younger than Julio) and is currently being featured in magazines. She has dedicated herself to following her passion and today, the happy chef enjoys her coffee sitting down, watching her dreams come true.