Francis Paniego (El Portal de Echaurren and Echaurren Tradición, La Rioja); Marcos Morán (Casa Gerardo, Asturias); and Rakel Cernicharo (Karak, Comunidad Valenciana) will be the mentors of ‘Next Level Chef’, an internationally successful format whose Spanish adaptation is being prepared by Mediaset España in collaboration with Shine Iberia (Banijay Iberia).

The three chefs will be in charge of directing and advising the programme’s contestants, chefs from all fields of gastronomy who compete against each other in a spectacular culinary battle for victory.

The mentors

Francis Paniego

He runs the kitchens of the restaurants El Portal de Echaurren (two Michelin Stars and three Repsol Suns) and Echaurren Tradición (one Repsol Sun) at the Hotel Echaurren in Ezcaray (La Rioja), his family’s business for five generations. He has been trained in the best restaurants in Spain, but he carries in his DNA the influence of his mother, Marisa Sánchez, a benchmark of good traditional Rioja cuisine. He has received the National Gastronomy Award for Best Head Chef in Spain 2011 and the Chef de L’Avenir Award 2015 from the International Academy of Gastronomy, among other awards. He is also currently gastronomic advisor to the Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Elciego (Álava), where he has won another Michelin Star, and to the Hotel Hermitage in Andorra, where he also achieved this recognition.

Marcos Morán

Born in Prendes (Asturias) in 1979, he represents the fifth generation of a saga that has been cooking and running Casa Gerardo since 1882 in this Asturian town, a restaurant that today has a Michelin Star and three Repsol Suns. He trained in top restaurants such as El Bulli, El Celler de Can Roca and Quique Dacosta, among others. He was awarded the title of Chef de L’Avenir in 2016 and the Medal of Honour of the French Senate for his work in the internationalisation of gastronomy, thanks to his work at the head of the gastronomic management of the Hispania restaurants in different parts of the world such as London, Brussels and Vietnam.

Rakel Cernicharo

Self-taught, artist and all-rounder, Rakel started out in the kitchen professionally at a very young age, in the social club where she worked as a waitress, replacing the cook on a temporary basis. Today she develops her enormous culinary talent at the head of the Karak restaurant in Valencia, a brave and mixed-race proposal in which fusion, market produce, aesthetics and sophistication are key. In 2017 Rakel was proclaimed the winner of a demanding culinary talent show on television and in 2022, Karak received the recognition of its first Sol Repsol.

This is what ‘Next Level Chef’ will be like

The contestants of ‘Next Level Chef’ will not only have to demonstrate their art in the kitchen, as the competition will also require the ability to adapt, improvisation, speed, reflexes, astuteness and cold-bloodedness to make decisions in extreme situations. The programme will take place on a spectacular set with a vertical structure on three levels with three differently designed and identifiable kitchens that the contestants will have to adapt to in each challenge: a state-of-the-art kitchen on the top level, a standard kitchen on the intermediate level and a precarious installation on the lower level, with only the basic elements.

To complicate the tests, the contestants will have the ingredients to cook on a moving platform that moves up and down the heart of the structure, so they will have to decide quickly which products to take. Some will be lucky enough to choose good raw materials and others will have to make do with leftovers to create the culinary proposals on which they will be judged by the mentors.

Best cooking show premiere in history

Developed by Studio Ramsay, the production company of legendary chef Gordon Ramsay, and produced by FOX Alternative Entertainment and Studio Ramsay, ‘Next Level Chef’ has enjoyed huge ratings success with the broadcast of its first two seasons in the US, where it was the most-watched cooking show premiere in history. The third season premiered at the end of January and garnered over seven million viewers on Sunday prime time. A fourth season of the format is currently in production and will premiere before the end of the year on FOX. In the UK it has been broadcast on ITV1 and France is already preparing its adaptation.