Jan 23 2020

Culinary Innovation "Made in Spain" at Madrid Fusión 2020

Do you want to know why one of the main objectives in Spanish gastronomy and of Spanish chefs is to constantly improve and innovate? We'll answer this question with some very specific examples.

The 2020 edition of this gastronomic summit, recognized as one of the most influential in the world, will be remembered for three main reasons: It celebrated its 18th anniversary (it's now of legal age in Spain) and it was held in a different venue this year, at IFEMA, the Trade Fair Institution of Madrid. The third reason is the most important. At this edition, it was clear once again that innovation by Spanish chefs and restaurants is stronger than ever.

Do you want to know why one of the main objectives in Spanish gastronomy and of Spanish chefs is to constantly improve and innovate? We'll answer this question with some very specific examples:

Mario Sandoval and new techniques with emulsions

Mario Sandoval and new techniques with emulsions.  Photo: Madrid Fusión

Emulsions are part of Spain's gastronomic tradition: gazpacho, salmorejo, mayonnaise, alioli... Based on this, Mario Sandoval (from the 2 Michelin star restaurant, Coque, in Madrid) presented his most recent research into this culinary technique: tuna spine marrow gazpachuelo, starting with dashi broth and made with the eye of Almadraba-style bluefin tuna confit. Another noteworthy example was an emulsion used to make beef marrow hollandaise sauce, to which a little Amontillado sherry and sherry vinegar were added.

Disfrutar restaurant in Barcelona and its sugar cooking technique

Just as we, in Spain, cook foods in salt (like seam bream covered in salt and baked in the oven), chefs Eduard Xatruch, Oriol Castro and Mateu Casañas wondered what would happen if they covered foods with sugar instead of salt. This is the innovative idea they used to create their dessert, Mango Volcano, made by cooking mango with sugar, which yielded a dish that looked like volcanic rocks.

Elena Arzak and fruit enzymes

Elena Arzak and fruit enzymes.  Photo: Madrid Fusión

Elena Arzak presented the project she's been working on with the Basque Culinary Center on fruit enzymes, which with they "marinate meat and fish to increase flavor and texture."

The head chef at Arzak restaurant and the fourth generation of a family of restaurateurs like few others presented the results of a study carried out using enzymes, mainly from fruit (papaya, pineapple, kiwi, orange and fig), to change the texture of both meat and fish, where they act on the collagen. "We wanted to find a more umami taste in horse mackerel and we realized that, by marinating them longer than we thought we could, we also affected the texture, gaining in density."

Is silk edible?

edible silk and the creation of a solid paper electrospun by a machine with positive and negative poles.  Photo: Madrid Fusión

The chef at Cabaña Buenavista (Murcia), Pablo González Conejero, presented two new culinary applications developed in cooperation with the Murcian Institute for Agricultural Research and Development (IMIDA): edible silk and the creation of a solid paper electrospun by a machine with positive and negative poles. "We will be able to eat silk through silkworms," said the chef, who was able to extract liquid silk, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to prevent diabetes and dementia. It was added to liquefied beets, which crystallized after being left to dry for 24 hours at room temperature.

Ángel León and his sea onions and honeys

Ángel León and his sea honey.  Photo: Madrid Fusión

"Chef of the sea," Ángel León, continues to innovate and surprised the crowds, once again, at the latest edition of Madrid Fusión. He is committed to continuous development and, with that in mind, and with a view to leveraging the extraordinary selection of foods in the sea, he presented his sea honey.

It's made from an aquatic plant called Ruppia Maritima, which is harvested near the marshes of Trebujena in Cádiz, known for their brackish qualities. To obtain the honey, the plant is dried for approximately two weeks. Then it's broken and even crushed before passing through a water rinse. This honey has the same alimentary and nutritional qualities as honey made from bees although it has salty notes, which makes it unique. This revolutionary chef also found the perfect "honeycomb" to serve it in: Cochayuyo seaweed, commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean.

Cooking that defends sustainability, with Joan Roca

Cooking that defends sustainability, with Joan Roca.  Photo: Madrid Fusión

The chef from El Celler de Can Roca presented the menu served to the Heads of State at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Madrid. According to Roca, the menu sought to reflect "a responsible ethics code and an effort to give back to society what society has given us. A food chain that is environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically inclusive."

With that in mind, the first dish they created was called "Clear water & dirty water," a broth with freeze-dried chanterelles, truffles and porcini mushrooms and toasted chickpeas, a transparent vegetable water poured onto the plate as a broth.

The second environment-inspired dish was "Hot seas." This is "a vegetable surf and turf with no meat, fish, seafood... With a base of edible plankton, underlining the role of the sea as a source of food," he said. Color is important in this dish, and the dressings—olive oil, sunflower seeds and juice from different herbs and stalks—give it body.

In his cooking, the efficient use of products is one of the main rules and the common theme in the third dish, "Vegetable fermentation and preservation, 'a gateway to the struggle against famine and food waste.' " It's also a dish that aims to highlight Spanish legumes. "A nut romesco sauce which includes lentils, chickpeas and beans as a base and which, together with a spicy juice, becomes a delicious, fresh vegetable ceviche, topped with turnip and cucumber shavings as well as flowers, sprouts and stalks.

In the fourth dish, "Minimize animal protein," Joan Roca served roasted beets aged in cold rooms, which gives diners the feeling like they're eating meat; grilled watermelon, "which [also] gives the impression of eating meat, thanks to the flavor from the grill and the smoke;" and tomatoes, purple onions, candied peppers and purple carrots "to maintain the color of meat without there being any meat in the dish."
Foods & Wines from Spain again showed its support for Madrid Fusión by coordinating the attendance of a select group of international journalists from leading media outlets ssuch as Hotel Revue and Marmite (Switzerland), Chef & Restaurant and Yes Chef (United Kingdom), Frisch Gekocht, Die Zeit and Die Welt (Germany), Food & Wine and Fine Cooking (US), Follow Me Foodie (Canada).


Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /@ICEX.