Any restaurant is only as good as it’s last service, but there’s more to running a successful restaurant than the food. Service, attention to detail and ambience all contribute to the overall experience, and at Restaurante Masena, Javea, the De Roij Bastijns Family have created a gastronomic paradise, ably assisted by Front of House Manager Valentin Carreño Sanchez, Chef de Cuisine Hamid Megrini Moujtahid and their cohort of attentive, professional and enthusiastic staff.
Valentin has spent almost 40 years working in the hospitality industry, 19 of those at Restaurante Masena. He is fortunate in that it’s what he always wanted to do, and he feels he never wants to work anywhere else. He told Spain Life Exclusive:
Working in the hospitality unites my two of my greatest passions: gastronomy and dealing with people every single day, and making them happy. I believe in showing my passion for my job, which I hope I always do well, and most of all, with love.
Being in charge of a busy dining room certainly presents plenty of opportunities to deal with people, and it takes a special skill to interact in a way that keeps the atmosphere happy, by attending to anything that arises in a calm, professional manner. As well as an extensive knowledge of good food and wine, Valentin also knows about people, and how best to engage with them. It’s about showing respect, and being authentic. He says:
When people look for me and remember me, it’s because I’m always the same way, and I treat each and every customer with affection and sincerity. It’s the way I am. I can’t be any different, and I don’t want to be. Everything comes from my heart, and I am always happy. People like that, and in these challenging times, it’s really appreciated.
Speaking of challenging times, Masena’s attention to detail in everything extends to safety measures to keep staff and diners relaxed and free from the risk of infection. Valentin told us that they have regular meetings, where they emphasise the importance of vigilance where hygiene is concerned, and examine how they can improve on safety. The Masena team are happy in their work, and they are good at what they do, but they never allow complacency to creep in – they are always actively looking for ways to improve.
A big part of the Masena success story is the partnership between Valentin and chef Hamid. While they each recognise the importance of working as a team, they have the utmost respect for each other too. We asked Valentin what he felt made their working relationship so special, he was pretty emphatic:
Hamid deals with menus and special dishes, I just pass on customer opinions. The kitchen is his domain, and in my opinion, he’s the best chef and colleague anyone could have. In some ways, we’re a bit like a married couple! Each of us has our own role in the team, and that carries over to our off duty time as well. Our entire relationship is based on mutual respect. Personally, I feel a profound admiration for Hamid and his excellent work ethic. All of us here are not just colleagues, we’re friends and family too.
No wonder, then, that much of Masena’s trade is returning diners, and Valentin has a special affection for the older customers, many of whom come to dine several times a week. And he tries to remember everyone’s preferences, which he feels is a big part of maintaining his own high standards, and the restaurant’s increasing reputation for exceptional service and standards which has resulted in the accolade of being awarded Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice 2020.
Only 10 per cent of businesses and attractions worldwide receive this award, and everyone at Masena feels happy and at the same time, humbled, by this well-deserved acknowledgement of the part they play in making life better for people of all ages, every time they open their doors for service.
As we’ve already noted, a good restaurant needs much more than food – even food cooked by a top chef like Hamid. It’s a place where people feel a warm welcome when they enter, and nourishment in both body and soul when they leave. Thanks to the unique atmosphere created by owner Ines De Roij, Valentin, Hamid and their exceptional team, Restaurante Masena is not just a good restaurant, it’s one of the best we’ve had the privilege to eat at, but don’t take our word for it – go along and see for yourself. As Valentin proudly says:
My mission is to make sure everyone I see leaves here happy. I try to transmit my joy in my work to them. To me, everyone is a person, not just a table number. I see every day as a new opportunity, and I love to live in the present, enjoying every moment. That’s what I want for our customers It’s never crossed my mind to work anywhere else, or do anything else.
Many of Masena’s loyal customers and friends will be delighted to hear that, just as we are, here at Spain Life Exclusive!
Address: Careterra Benitatchell 71
Telephone: 965 79 37 64