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From Plate to Canvas: Juan Amador's Artistic Journey as Rodama

10/06/24  Vienna

Article and photos by Gili Biegun

Renowned chef Juan Amador, known for his three-MICHELIN-starred restaurant in Vienna, has recently embraced a new artistic identity as a painter under the alias Rodama. In this article, we explore how he balances his culinary and artistic passions, transforming from chef to painter each night.

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Born in Waiblingen, Germany, with Spanish origins, Amador's journey began with an internship at "Gasthof Lamm" in Weinstadt-Strümpfelbach. His career quickly soared, earning multiple MICHELIN Stars at various restaurants across Germany.


In 2016, he relocated his flagship restaurant to Vienna, Austria, following his wife after years of a long-distance relationship. The restaurant became the first in Austria to be awarded three MICHELIN Stars. Located at the outskirts of Vienna in a working winery, "Amador" offers a unique dining experience where guests can see vineyard wine barrels as they walk into the cellar dining room.


During the COVID-19 lockdown, Amador's passion for creation found a new outlet in painting. Initially hesitant to claim his own works, he created under the alias Rodama. "People say the chef now is a painter," he reflected.


He names his art pieces after the songs he listened to while creating them, often playing drums late at night in his studio. Unlike his food, which is created on demand and consumed quickly, his art allows him to take his time and create with passion.

In an art studio just a short drive from his three-MICHELIN-starred restaurant in Vienna, Juan Amador, aka Rodama, transforms his creative energy from the culinary to the visual arts. Late at night, after the last customer has enjoyed their dessert, Amador picks up his drumsticks, plays to the tune of "Indian Summer," and begins to paint. Much like Clark Kent turning into Superman, Amador embraces his alter ego and creates a different type of art.


By day, he is a celebrated chef, and by night, a passionate painter. Despite my insistence that both cooking and painting are legitimate art forms, Amador disagrees when it comes to his culinary creations.


"The aesthetic of your dishes reminds me of art," I said during our interview. "I look, smell, and taste your food and truly believe it's art. Why don't you consider your kitchen creations 'art'?"


"If you want, you can also see it as art, of course. It would then be a kind of performance art. But otherwise, it's a reproduction every second, which is not the case in classical art. The creation of a new dish is certainly close to art; the rest is high-performance sport," Amador responded.

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"You started painting during the COVID lockdown with the need to create. How do you balance kitchen work and studio work now that life is back to normal and your restaurant is full every evening?" I asked.


"After everyday life returned and I couldn't let go of art, I simply had to reorganize my everyday life and take a more professional approach. The studio moved out of the house and now I have two wonderful jobs: cooking and painting," Amador explained.


"You mentioned that your art is like therapy for you. How so? Tell me about your creative process. How is it different from the creation of a new dish?" I inquired.


"Therapy is perhaps not quite the right word," Amador rispond. "It's more that I'm completely alone with my art. I don't have to take suppliers, employees, press, and guests into consideration. This creates completely new perspectives that are completely free, and I enjoy that very much, as a kind of counterpart and also in connection with my other self as a chef."


Juan Amador's dual pursuits of cooking and painting showcase his relentless dedication to creativity and innovation, making him a true artist in every sense.

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Restaurant Amador 

Address: Grinzinger Str. 86, 1190 Wien, Austria
Phone: +43 660 9070500

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