How I Got Here: Mikel López de Viñaspre

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with Sagardi restaurant founder and chef Mikel López de Viñaspre

Related tags: Spanish cuisine, Chef, Restaurant, London

Chef Mikel López de Viñaspre is founder of the Sagardi Group, which operates Shoreditch-based Basque restaurant Sagardi

Why restaurants?
In the Basque Country, food and everything around it is almost like a religion and we are passionate about gastronomy.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
That the key to success is very professional management of people.

What do you do in your spare time?
Enjoy family and friends, cooking, reading, and travelling.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
Elkano in Getaria (Basque Country) would be one of them, although in other parts of that area you eat very well too. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
I have no idea, but I guess something which I would enjoy, something related to travel, meeting other cultures, etc.

What motivates you?
It motivates me to be surrounded by people with positive energy, both personally and professionally, good people both who assume responsibilities and also like to have fun.

Where was your last holiday?
We went to Cadaqués, on the Costa Brava of the North of Catalonia, a wonderful and very authentic area.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Without a doubt my brother Iñaki, with whom we started 25 years ago and with whom we continued developing the Sagardi project. And we have only just started!

What keeps you up at night?
I do not usually have trouble sleeping, but if there is something that can take my sleep away it is when there is someone in my family or friends who is not well.

Worst business decision?
Every bad decision gives you a very valuable lesson and we have made many mistakes throughout these years. Possibly the biggest and most recurring mistake is to bet on someone whose profile does not fit the job.

Best business decision?
Create a company model based on a highly professional and integrated team.

What are you reading at the moment?
Prisoners of geography by Tim Marshall; a very interesting geopolitical analysis.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Do not be obsessed with trends, being different is a virtue.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
Eliminate the black market economy that still exists in this business in many countries, which hurts the industry badly year after year. 

CV to date

Born: Barcelona, 1973

Education: Degree in Geography and History with a focus on the History of America and Africa | University of Barcelona

- ​General Manager and Founder of Sagardi Group
- Oversaw different stages in gastronomic restaurants of the Basque Country including: Restaurant Portuetxe (Donosti), and Sidrería Zapiain (Astigarraga)
- Member of Euskadi Gastronomika.
- Member of Catalonia Slow Food Association.
- Member and founder of Barcelona Born Gourmet Association.

Related topics: People

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