Feb 05 2024

Madrid Fusion 2024: Walking on the Shoulders of Giants

The most multitudinous edition of the Madrid event has come to an end with a program that included the biggest names in Spanish gastronomy as well as professionals who will be decisive in the future

The Madrid conference concludes its most exciting edition. Never before have there been so many activities, sessions, presentations... Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España brought together classic names in Spanish gastronomy as well as new professionals in a game of mirrors in which chefs of the stature of Ferran Adrià and Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz, 2 stars, San Sebastián) rubbed shoulders with chefs of the future (and also of the present, like Jorge Muñoz and Sara Peral, who run Michelin star OSA in Madrid, and won the Best New Chef award). The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, summed up the current state of Spanish gastronomy very well by saying, "We're walking on the shoulders of giants." It was a record edition: 1,814 participants, 25,812 visitors, and 211 exhibitors, making this Madrid Fusión the largest and most international in history.

Dabiz Muñoz, the most eagerly-anticipated

One of the chefs who generated the most excitement was Dabiz Muñoz, the chef of 3 Michelin star restaurant DiverXO (Madrid), who is also number 3 in the world according to The World's 50 Best Restaurants. This year he also received The Best Chef award for the third year in a row. He shared the details of the new location of his restaurant, which will move to the outskirts of Madrid in 2024. "It will be an amusement park for customers, and also for me," he said, before making a comment that attests to his creativity: "We make between 50 and 60 new dishes a year."

 "Eating" water, Ángel León's new challenge

Another of the most exciting presentations was from chef Ángel León, as expected. In previous editions of the event, the chef of the 3 Michelin star restaurant Aponiente (El Puerto de Santa María, Andalusia), discovered plankton and marine luminescence as ingredients, and has now focused on water in its broadest sense. "Water can be the most important ingredient in a meal," explained this visionary chef, who decided to create a menu based on it. It will feature frosted products and the possibility of "eating sea breezes," a dream that's still in its initial phase.

Other great names in Spanish gastronomy also offered presentations, such as the recently 3-starred Paco Morales (Noor Restaurante, Córdoba) and the trio of chefs Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas, and Eduard Xatruch (Disfrutar, Barcelona), who achieved the highest distinction in the 2024 Michelin Guide. Other established chefs included Eneko Atxa (3 Michelin stars, Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Basque Country) and Ricard Camarena, the Valencian chef with two Michelin stars for his eponymous restaurant and who received the Alimentos de España award. He declared, "Beauty can be found on the palate," when he received the distinction, in defense of flavor over aesthetics in haute cuisine.

A full program of activities

The Wine Edition Wine from Spain, organized by Foods and Wine from Spain, was also held, during which prestige, excellence, and the challenges facing the sector were discussed. Numerous Spanish Masters of Wine were on hand, including Almudena Alberca, Pedro Ballesteros, and Álvaro Ribalta.

The area dedicated to sweets, MF Pastry, was especially groundbreaking this year, with unusual presentations such as the one given by Ángel León and his pastry chef, Idoia Lacambra, dedicated to desserts made with seafood, and the masterclass led by Jordi Roca to explain the steps taken from collecting cacao beans to creating chocolate bars. Beverages were represented at MF Drinks, with presentations by Marc Álvarez, co-owner of Sips (Barcelona), recognized this year as the best bar in the world in the list of The World's 50 Best Bars, and one on drink development in restaurants like Disfrutar and El Celler de Can Roca (3 Michelin stars, Girona).

Dreams, an open door to future gastronomy

But if this edition will be remembered for anything, it's for the creation of a section that aims to change the rules of the game. Dreams #spainfoodtech, organized by Foods and Wine from Spain and the Alicia Foundation, dared to take a look at the future of gastronomy. With a dynamic and groundbreaking format, and playing with the proximity of the audience seated in the form of bleachers, it featured some of the conference's most enriching sessions.

Each of the days revolved around a theme. On Monday, the food of the future was discussed; on Tuesday, the foodtech ecosystem took center stage, including the presentation of the Foodtech in Spain 2023 report. On Wednesday, health and its relationship with food were the focus of the sessions. It was an overwhelming success, with Ferran Adrià as an attendee and, at times, he participated in some of the discussions.

Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España is in very good health, having become not just a conference but an event where the unique period that Spanish gastronomy is experiencing is discussed and which looks to the future with enthusiasm and excitement. Although much has already been done, it's clear that the road ahead in the coming years is promising. There are many conferences to come.