Kitchen of Das Stuen. Michelin-starred Catalan chef Paco Pérez in Das Stue Restaurant. Occupying a 1930s building that originally was Berlin's Royal Danish Embassy, Das Stue's unique heritage is reflected in its name, the Danish term for "living room." The hotel incorporates the prominence of its classicist facade and the natural beauty of its leafy Tiergarten address, formerly the city's royal hunting grounds. The owners have created a sophisticated urban retreat with personalized comforts – much like the living room of someone who is well connected in Berlin and has immediate access to the city's countless attractions. Patricia Urquiola, the acclaimed Spanish architect and designer, brings her signature sleek and elegant touch to the hotel’s interiors. Michelin-starred Catalan chef Paco Pérez helms Das Stue’s food concept, serving avant-garde Mediterranean cuisine combined with local accents. Sincere, honest, flavor-driven, creative, surprising….: that just about sums up Paco Pérez’s style of cooking. Backed up by his tenet that “everyone should do what he knows in his heart he really ought to be doing, and not deny his principles”, it has earned him five Michelin stars: two for the Miramar, his trademark restaurant in Llançá (Girona, eastern Spain), two for the Enoteca, located within the Hotel Arts in Barcelona and one in his venue in Berlin. His laid-back manner belies a packed schedule, which also includes running the restaurant of the Hotel Mirror, again in Barcelona.  The tramontana strikes again. I seem to be doomed. It’s enough for me to go anywhere near the Ampurdan coast for this dismal north wind to start blowing. My visit to the Hotel Restaurante Miramar in Llançá (Girona, eastern Spain) is no exception. I’m here to discover the key features of the Paco Pérez approach to cooking, but the tramontana is no respecter of such missions, and the bout of bad weather that this unpleasant inland wind typically carries along with it is stirring up the waters of this stretch of the Mediterranean.  Against this backdrop, Paco Pérez’s affability beams out in contrast. A ‘self-made’ chef with a low-key approach to life, he avoids the circuit of media events, conferences, and hoo-ha generally. We sit on the covered terrace of his restaurant looking out over the sea, and chat about his (nearly) twenty years at the helm of a gastronomic enterprise (running the Miramar, and acting as advisor to two restaurants-within-hotels in Barcelona – Enoteca in the Arts, and the Mirror) that has earned him three Michelin stars, two for the Miramar and one for Enoteca.  Paco not only directs the teams; he cooks, too. ”I’m a cook. I cook every day”, he says. His passionate interest in food and cooking dates back to early childhood; while still at primary school he used to love slipping into the kitchen to watch what was going on and then try to imitate what he saw. Later, his pursuit of what was clearly a vocation began withtaking a job in a little tapas bar owned by his family, starting off as a waiter and then graduating to the kitchen: “That experience of dealing with the public was key. Being in direct contact with the customers means that you can observe how they react to various tastes and smells - vital information that doesn’t reach you when you’re behind the scenes in the kitchen”.  His schooldays over, he set about becoming a member of the food world, spending several training periods in France on placements with Michel Guérard (one of the progenitors of Nouvelle Cuisine) until he was called up to do his (then obligatory) military service back in Spain. This was when Montse appeared on the scene, turning what would have been just a temporary interruption into a permanent one. “While I was doing the mili in Madrid , a friend told me that his parents, who ran a little hostal (boarding house) near the beach in Llançà, needed help over the Easter period. I decided to give them a hand and spend my holidays there”.  And there he stayed. The original plan return to France to continue his training dissolved in the face of his desire to remain with Montse, sister of the friend who had introduced him to the Miramar, for whom he had fallen in a big way. However, he continued studying and acquiring skills and know-how, and soon after made contact with Ferrán Adriá . Indeed, it was at elBulli that he came to understand the nature of his attitude to cooking, “….an approach to food that involves the senses – you take in the look of it, the smell, the feel, then you eat it, taste it, experience the pleasure of it and retain it in your memory”. Many have described his style of cooking as ‘elBulliesque’, which he takes as a compliment: “To me, cooking in the style of elBulli involves being consistent, creative, humble and hard-working, so I’m delighted if it’s true”.