Leon Griffioen: “To get here we have laughed a lot, but we have also cried”



A few days after the eternal gala in Toledo, in which the Michelin stars were awarded, Leon Griffioen, from Barcode, He has already better digested the fact of being the first restaurant in the city of Cádiz to achieve this recognition. Or not? “Digest it, not yet, but little by little you are becoming aware of what it means to have a star. You don’t know what it is until you have it. I am very happy, but it is a considerable responsibility”, affirms the man from Cádiz who was born in the Netherlands.

On his day off, sitting with apparent calm in the room of the new Michelin star, which also has a Repsol Sun, Leon analyzes what began to happen after naming him Ángel León on the Toledo stage.

“The reservations began to arrive through the web, email, telephone and Google, where you cannot choose the menu, so you had to return the calls. These days have been a lot of administrative work, to speak with the media and with distributors who want to get to know us and be part of the people who help us to be what we are. In December we already have complete, practically, all the reservations”.

The Dutchman by birth, with Ángel León at the Michelin stars gala
The Dutchman by birth, with Ángel León at the Michelin star gala – GC

Leon fondly remembers the presence of Ángel León at such an important moment: “we’ve known each other since we started with La Cigüeña and he was with Tambuche, before Aponiente. It was something very nice that, twenty years later, it was he who has reached so high, who gave me the jacket”.

Contrary to what some hidden chronicler behind an anonymous signature assures, Barcode will not raise prices of their menus for the Michelin star, so that Cotinusa and Gadir will continue to cost 60 and 70 euros respectively. Both of them
can be found at this link

One of the Bar Code dishes
One of the Bar Code dishes – Inma Postigo

In both one and the other, the diner will be able to continue tasting the history of Cádiz. “It is always criticized that we do not know how to sell Cádiz. When I got here, we proposed to tell the story of Cádiz, which has 3,000 years to choose from. The panizas, the candié to whet the appetite of children, the garum, the fleur de lis in some houses… You search and find things that are very local. That is the idea, with a product from Cádiz to tell a story, as with the babetas, from when in the 17th century there were fifteen factories in the city, and the workers took the pasta scraps home. Hence also the expression ‘to be a babeta’, to be worth little”.

Leon, next to the restaurant kitchen
Leon, next to the kitchen of the restaurant – Save Moreno

upon entering BarcodeYou can immediately tell that it is a high-class restaurant, elegant, with very well cared for details. But Leon says that was not mounted with the goal of achieving the star: “I think that not even the experts know clearly what requirements must be met to achieve the star. It seems to me that the only one who knows is Martín Berasategui, who has so many, hahahaha… But I don’t know what to do. Only be constant, work, offer good service, cook well and hit the public. From there, you can not stop being faithful to your idea. But Código de Barra was set up to be more comfortable, us and the customers”.


In addition, the chef believes that he has also recounted his career. “We were already out in the Michelin Guide with La Cigüeñaand three years ago they gave us the
Bib Gourmand on Password
. I understand that the inspectors also value that trajectory”.

Undoubtedly, this recognition, the first star for the city of Cádiz, is also beneficial for the municipality. “Sure, I’m very happy that it’s for us, but it’s important to everyoneI think it gives one more reason to come to Cádiz and attract a different type of tourism, which will also be good for the rest of the hotel and business sectors”.

Leon and his wife, Paqui Márquez, head of the room and manager of Código de Barra
Leon and his wife, Paqui Márquez, head of the room and manager of Código de Barra – Save Moreno

Although, as we said, Barcode will continue to maintain its current menus, Griffioen reveals that it is working together with the Cadiz University “To see if they can provide us with some more knowledge in order to do new things. To do this, we spoke with those responsible for Master’s degree, and some ideas are already coming out. I have in mind to do something thinking about counting historical sites of Cádiz, I think it’s fun, and that’s what it’s all about, not just eating. Gastronomy is culture, we want people to have fun and unite that gastronomic culture with that of Cádiz”.

Lastly, when asked who he remembers in these moments of success, he does not hesitate for a second: “From Paqui, my wife (she runs the dining room and is the restaurant’s sommelier), who has always followed me one hundred percent. There are also many people I remember, like family, friends, suppliers who put up with us when there was no money… Because We have laughed a lot, but we have also cried a lot.. We’ve been broke a couple of times, almost lost our house, and there’s been a lot of people involved to get us where we are. I dedicate it to all of them. But fundamentally, to Paqui”.

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Leon Griffioen: “To get here we have laughed a lot, but we have also cried”

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