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What happened to MasterChef Spain’s first ever winner

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

The story starts in 2013…

When Masterchef España first arrived, we all knew it would be the start of something huge. In a country with culinary passion and an inherent gastronomic culture, the Spanish version of the international television cooking phenomenon promised to be competitive, high standard, and spotlight some of the world’s most promising up-and-coming chefs.

Although it seems like yesterday, it’s been 13 years since Juan Manuel Sánchez took home the first-ever Masterchef Spain trophy when he was just 26 years old, transforming his life and career.

If you’ve been wondering what Juan Manuel went on to do after his historic win, read on!

So, who is Juan Manuel Sánchez, masterchef winner?

Juan Manuel was raised in the Andalusian coastal region of Almería, where he worked as a waiter. He credits his grandmother and his mother for raising him with a passion for food and describes “growing up” in their kitchens. He had a dream to study at Madrid’s renowned culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, yet was forced to postpone his ambition when his father tragically fell ill and passed away in 2009.

In 2013, he saw a Masterchef advert on television, seeking candidates with a passion for cooking. So he decided to try it out, and the rest is history!

What to him happened after the show?

After a tense showdown with Cordoba publicist Eva, Juan Manuel’s scallop carpaccio starter and cod al pil pil main stunned the judges, who named him Masterchef’s Spain’s first-ever winner. As part of his prize, he took home 100.000 euros and a recipe book deal. He also won a scholarship to Cordon Bleu, fulfilling his lifelong ambitions of studying there, and quickly received an offer to work as a chef in Bilbao Berria’s restaurants in Barcelona and Bilbao.

Juan Manuel has been quite busy...

After stints in some of Spain’s top restaurants, Juan Manuel realised his ultimate goal of opening his restaurant, La Taberna Topares, in the village where he was born in Albox. Juan Manuel remains faithful to his strength in cooking traditional Spanish food, masterfully executed without pretension or snobbery. Reviewers have hailed his establishment for serving high-quality food made with fresh ingredients in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

...And what about other MasterChef España winners?

You may have seen one of Masterchef’s most well-known exports in the news lately. Season 5’s ex-footballer Jorge Brazález recently appeared on Spanish television competitive celebrity talent show El Desafio, but couldn’t repeat his triumph a second time around. That’s OK, though, as he seems to be doing just fine — he’s the owner of Roto, an exclusive Ibiza club and restaurant. Meanwhile, second two winner Vicky Pulgarín has her own exclusive catering company that specialises in vanguard food with exceptional quality.

The path that awaits the winners of MasterChef

It’s not been an easy year for chefs in Spain, especially the newly launched ventures of the past Masterchef winners. Thankfully, it seems like contestants continue to grow and thrive in their careers as accomplished chefs with their own restaurants and businesses! Next time we’re in Almería, we’re definitely going to pass through Albox and stop at Juan Manuel’s gem of a restaurant!

Now is the time to reserve at Terminal 42 restaurant in Barcelona, and judge their signature cuisine by inspiring chef Alejandro. Let's see if you rate him a @Masterchef.

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