During the four-day event, the Madrid food fair saw its most ambitious edition to date, with 116.257 visitors coming to see the most extensive showcase of Spanish gastronomy
There's no other Spanish gastronomy event as classic as Salón Gourmets. The veteran fair is approaching its 40th edition (this is its 36th) and is experiencing an enviable moment of maturity. This event is a unique opportunity to discover the treasures of Spanish gastronomy (where it's impossible not to talk about Ibérico ham, olive oil, and wine) but also to shine a light on hidden gems and get lost among the hundreds of stands that reveal an infinite variety of products and ingredients. Overall, 55,000 products were showcased at the fair.
Wandering around the stands organized by Spain's various regions, of its quality brands, and of its small-scale artisans who present their products is an opportunity to enter a universe of unique aromas, flavors, and textures. Blue goat's cheeses instead of the usual cow cheeses, natural ciders from Castile-León instead of from Asturias or the Basque Country, chorizo made from goat or wild boar meat... This year's edition of Salón Gourmets has been a place for discovery and wonder.
Ifema, Madrid's main convention center, has become the recurring home base for an event that this year expanded its space, adding two more pavilions, to accommodate an endless number of exhibitors. There were more people than ever in the traditional wine, olive oil, and cheese tunnels; the latter also offered the possibility of tasting a selection of the finalists for a fair price as part of an essential tour of different Spanish cheese varieties.
Competitions and awards for excellence
Among all the activities and events at Salón Gourmets, the awards and competitions that help put chefs, products, and techniques on the map are especially important. This includes chef Julen Bergantiños, from the Islares restaurant (Bilbao), who won the third XChef by Cervezas 1906 challenge with his Celtic pork trotters in green sauce with Cantabrian hake cheeks and peas. He's one of the chefs to follow in the coming years. There were also distinctions for the best beer dispensers and cider pourers, both capable of bringing out the best in popular drinks. Alejandro Rodríguez from restaurant Coque in Madrid was hailed as the best sommelier.
Another chef whose name resonated strongly was José Miguel Martínez Pi, chef from Majorcan hotel Cap Vermell, who won the National "Tapas Alimentos de España" Award, presented at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's #AlimentosdeEspaña stand. His recipe: smoked Mahón cheesecake, pine nuts, honey, and quince.
The second edition of the World Best AOVEs Contest also brought good news to seven Spanish producers. The winners were Oro Bailén Hojiblanca (best intense fruity green AOVE), Finca Badenes Picual (best medium fruity green AOVE), Palacio de los Olivos Arbequina (best mature fruity AOVE), Makro Premium Picual Bio (best bio AOVE), Palacio de los Olivos Picual (best PDO and PGI AOVE), Pago Francisco Gómez Grosal (best high in polyphenols AOVE) and Verde Divino Ecológico Picual (packaging and innovation award).
But perhaps the most anticipated award at the food fair was the best cheese in Spain, one of the most prestigious accolades of its kind and which usually provides great support for artisans and producers. This year, the award went to Cremositos del Zújar, a torta-style creamy cheese from the company Arteserena (Badajoz, Extremadura).
Great names in gastronomy
At an event like Salón Gourmets, it's essential to highlight those chefs who have contributed to Spanish gastronomy's current positive position. Among them is one of the greatest: the man with 12 Michelin stars, Martín Berasategui, who received extraordinary recognition for his fundamental role in shaping current-day Spanish cuisine at the 12th Club de Gourmets 2023 awards, presented by Club de Gourmets magazine. Berasategui's visit took place among countless selfies and anonymous acknowledgments from the many attendees who approached him throughout the fair...
Salón Gourmets says goodbye until next year with an impressive 2023 performance: 116.257 visitors attended an event that, with each edition, becomes a little bigger, showing a more complete overview of Spanish gastronomy every single time. To infinity and beyond!