May 31 2024

Foreign Culinary Professionals Offered One-of-a-Kind Opportunity to Experience 21st Century Spain

The annual program ran from May 12th to the 24th, during which time participants visited the Basque Country, Asturias, Catalonia, Valencia, and Madrid

The Hospitality Training Certificate, organized by Foods & Wines from Spain Academy which is the only certificate of its kind for hospitality professionals, recently ran from May 12th to the 24th.

The group traveled to the Basque Country, Asturias, Catalonia, Valencia, and Madrid to learn about local cuisine and products, attend masterclasses, and meet with local chefs.

The professionals chosen for this program boast profiles that include lengthy professional careers and senior positions in their respective departments. By focusing on this new participant profile, the Food, Gastronomy and Wines Division of ICEX seeks to introduce Spanish gastronomy to professionals that are both leaders and decision-makers at their respective hotels.

It thereby serves as the first step towards sparking interest in Spanish gastronomy, and its ultimate goal is the introduction of Spanish products into the culinary offering and use of the selected hotels.

This long-term project aims to establish a solid and fruitful relationship with the companies and hotel groups that have been invited to participate, all of which are located in strategic markets for the Spain's food and gastronomy sector, including Asia and America.

This program responds to the exceptional level of international projection of the Spanish restaurant industry, considered a global reference for its creativity, capacity for innovation in culinary techniques, and synthesis with its roots.

It was created to provide specialized training in Spanish gastronomy – both theoretical and practical – to foreign professionals, while simultaneously offering an integral look at the culture, language, history and new reality of 21st-century Spain.

Hotel professionals from all around the World

The following professionals participated in the 2024 edition: the executive sous chef at Shangri-La Hotel in Australia, the executive chef and the F&B director at Arena Hotel in Brazil, the chefs at Shangri-La Hotel restaurants Zen and The Flying Catch in China, the F&B director at W Suzhou Marriott Hotel in China, the executive sous chef at the Hilton Mclean Tysons Corner Hotel in the US, the chef at the Four Seasons Hotel restaurant Capa in the US, the executive chef at Shangri-La Hotel in the Phillipines, the executive chef at the Oberoi Hotel in India, the restaurant director from Riu Gresham Hotel in Ireland, the executive chef at Iberostar Punta Mita Hotel in Mexico, the F&B director at Barceló Warsaw Hotel in Poland, and the F&B director at the Hyatt Regency Oryx Hotel in Qatar.

It’s organized into two parts. The first module is online and offered through the ICEX-CECO e-learning platform, and the second module consists of a 2-week visit to Spain.

Training at the Basque Culinary Center

The first stop of the 2-week visit to Spain was the Basque Country, where they attend trainings at the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), a pioneering academic institution.

After learning about Spanish products and new techniques in canned products, the students enjoyed two interesting presentations, one on food and wine pairings and the other on mixology.

The day concluded with an exciting firsthand experience with Basque food: a pintxos route in downtown San Sebastián.

Local Products in Asturias

On the third day of training, the students spent 4 hours at the BCC, learning about products and techniques, and later in the day traveled to the Asturias region.

The following day they had a unique opportunity: a sit-down with Michelin star chef Nacho Manzano (Casa Marcial) and his team to exchange ideas and discuss different business models. The program participants were later invited to dine at Manzano’s restaurant.

The next two days of the program were organized by Asturex, the Asturian government’s Foreign Trade and Investment Agency.

This included a tour of the Migaya CB pastry factory, a visit to Ternera Asturiana PGI, a gastronomic experience inside a local coal mine, and a closer look at two other local businesses: the Quesos La Peral cheese factory and the Sidra Trabanco cider factory.

Wine in Catalonia

After a day of travel, the program moves to the region of Catalonia, where the activities were organized by Cava DO.

This included several winery tours, including Alta AlellaVins El Cep, and Juvé & Camps. They also attended a welcome session by the Cava DO, in Penedès.

Valencian Foods and Tapas in Castellón


After leaving Catalonia, the group of hospitality professionals traveled to Castellón de la Plana to attend 2 full days of training at the Gasma Culinary School.

On the first day they attended a masterclass on the main products used in traditional  rice dishes as Arroz de Valencia DO, olive oil and saffron. This was followed by a rice cooking workshop led by chef Jorge Lengua.

They enjoyed some haute cuisine tapas prepared by the Michelin star chefs behind the restaurant Cañitas Maite, Javier Sanz and Juan Sahuquillo, as well as a workshop where they worked together to prepare—and compete with—their own tapas based on the restaurant’s recipes.

The following day they attended a masterclass in Gasma by Ferran Lleixa about pastries served at hotel breakfasts and enjoyed a pastry tasting.

A Taste of Ham and a Final Stop in Madrid

For the final days of the trip, the group visited the Monte Nevado Campus in Segovia to learn all about ham.

And, on the final day, the participants headed to Madrid to attend a roundtable discussion about food products and gastronomy from Spain and the way they enhance the hospitality experience.

This was followed by the graduation ceremony and closing remarks. The challenge from now on for these professionals will be to transfer an authentic Spanish gastronomic experience to their projects.