THE JOSÉ MARÍA RUIZ’S BIOGRAPHY
Entrepreneur, chef, sommelier, viticulturist, wine-cellar owner, impresario… one man.
José María Ruiz Benito is one of the greatest exponents of Segovian gastronomy, and he exemplifies the balance between respect for the traditions of the ancient Castilian innkeepers and the way traditional cuisine has innovated to suit the modern palette.
With a solid professional grounding going back as far as the Sixties, when he passed through the varying sections of a range of restaurants, from the kitchen to the dining room, in his early years José María Ruiz showed leanings towards an in-depth study of the world of wines as sommelier. As early as 1972 he already excelled in this field, being selected to represent Spain in the first world sommelier contest, organized by the International Office of Vine and Wine in Milan (Italy), where he obtained the bronze medal with a diploma of Honour and the title of international master of cups, competing with professionals from 32 countries.
It was in 1982, that he decided to go it alone, opening up the restaurant “José María”, in Cronista Lecea street, bang in the old quarter of the city of Segovia, next to the Plaza Mayor, with the definite intention of revamping the traditional cuisine of the region, using creativity and a personal touch to adapt the local products of Segovia to new trends, basically maintaining the naturalness of the flavours and aromas that were typical of each dish.
Showing his constant desire to make improvements to his business, and attracted by the possibilities he felt the Ribera del Duero region presented, in 1987 it was with great excitement that he embarked on a project to create a model vineyard plantation in Peñafiel, including a production winery, which would then give rise to the prestigious “Pago de Carraovejas” wines, which harmonize so well with the dishes that come out of his kitchen. This exciting project boasts a well-cared for plantation that is considered exemplary, measuring 160 hectares, with Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wine varietals. The winery is located in the centre of the estate, and is equipped with the most modern and advanced processing and aging techniques.
To turn his suckling pig into the benchmark Segovian dish par excellence, he decided to create his own breeding farm, where he embarked on his first scientific studies on cross-breeding and what nutrition the mothers needed in order to obtain a raw material of exceptional quality. In 2002, this tireless effort in search of product excellence would lead him to obtain, together with other collaborators, the “Guarantee Mark” seal for Segovian roasted suckling pig (PROCOSE), a trademark officially granted and registered by the Ministry of Agriculture. José María Ruiz Benito is the chairman of PROCOSE.
In 2013, the Ossian project was also linked to the family group, meaning that the Segovian area of Verdejo would now be chosen by José María to produce wines with a clear Burgundian influence, and yet upholding the purity of the Verdejo in all its lines.
José María Ruiz has been a contributor to newspapers and magazines specializing in cuisine, he has participated on forums, at conferences, congresses and on opinion boards. The cuisine of José María Ruiz has travelled throughout Spain and the world making presentations and hosting workshops, where his work with suckling pigs and the results of his breeding farm have met with acclaim.
AWARDS AND DISTINTIONS[MILÁN, 1972]
PARTICIPATES IN THE FIRST WORLD SUMMER CONTEST ORGANIZED BY THE INTERNATIONAL OFFICE OF THE VINE AND WINE AND OBTAINS THE BRONZE MEDAL WITH A DIPLOMA OF HONOUR AND THE TITLE OF INTERNATIONAL MASTER OF CUPS[BARCELONA, 1983]
NAMED MEMBER OF THE CHAINE DES ROTISSEURS, HE IS CURRENTLY THE BAILIO DE CASTILLA Y LEÓN
HE IS APPOINTED A NUMBERED ACADEMICIAN OF THE ACADEMY OF TASTAVIN DE SANT HUMBERT THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, TOURISM AND COMMUNICATIONS AWARDS HIM THE PLAQUE OF TOURISM MERIT
JURY OF THE INTERNATIONAL KITCHEN COMPETITION «IL TOCCO BIANCO» OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION GASTRONOMIC AND TOURISM PRESS
INTERNATIONAL GASTRONOMY AWARD C.E.A.
SEGOVIAN ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD, AWARDED BY THE SEGOVIAN BUSINESS FEDERATION (FES)
“CECALE DE ORO” AWARD FOR CASTILLA Y LEÓN FOR HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER
“EARTH OF SEGOVIA” PRIZE FOR THE BEST ENTREPRENERIAL TRAJECTORY AWARDED BY THE SEGOVIAN CENTRE IN MADRID
THE RESTAURANT JOSE MARIA IS AWARDED A “Q” FOR QUALITY, AWARDED BY THE ICTE.
“ROYAL SEAL OF THE CLOTHS” AWARD FOR CORPORATE EXCELLENCE AWARDED BY THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY