One speaker that drew a huge crowd to the main auditorium was Eneko Atxa, from Azurmendi. He attended Madrid Fusión to talk about how and why he committed to finding the best possible and most easily accessible ingredients locally. As a result, he has been working with suppliers within a 30 km radius. Azurmendi (3 Michelin stars) was named Most Sustainable Restaurant in the World by The World's 50 Best Restaurants. He gave a presentation where he shined a light on the local producers that supplied him with wild mushrooms, farmhouse eggs, corn flour, seafood obtained using traditional methods, edible flowers, vegetables like cauliflower, tear-shaped peas, violet onions from Zalla, Barranca peppers and honey in the honeycomb.
"These are eight products from eight producers that truly reflect the essence of Azurmendi; for us, it's natural to work with the environment and with its people, and that inspires us to share and help each other," he said. Before concluding his presentation, Eneko Atxa told an inspiring anecdote about exporting: "When we were closed because of the pandemic, Frantzén restaurant in Stockholm got in touch to ask where they could get the tear-shaped peas they tried when they ate at Azurmendi. We put them in touch with the supplier, Guillermo, who was able to stay in business thanks to this new client in Sweden. We couldn't buy his product because we were closed, but the situation gave rise to an export opportunity born of friendship, mutual support, and affection."
The young chef María Gómez, from Magoga restaurant in Cartagena (Murcia, 1 Michelin star), surprised the attendees with her research into recovering the use of sugarcane in cooking. "After several months of research, we were able to recover a local product that had practically all but disappeared: giant cane (Arundo donax), an excellent species for soil recovery,” she said. "We made flour, ground in a traditional mill, from sugarcane roots. What’s more, it’s gluten free. This flour is the main ingredient in one of our most popular desserts, “Carob textures and cane flour.”
One of Spain’s most deep-rooted culinary techniques is salting and macerations with fish. Chef Nazario Cano, from Odiseo restaurant (1 Michelin star) revealed how he has updated this technique: duck foie macerated with sardine oil and salt, red tuna macerated in a mix of alcohol and citrus fruits... He even prepared fish macerated in chocolate and cocoa butter.
Ignacio Echapresto, from Venta Monclavillo, shared his philosophy about cooking with the lunar phases: "Our vegetables' point of maturation is determined by the lunar phases," he said. "Every new moon, which occurs 13 times per year, we change our menu. We remove and add dishes. We add four or five new recipes during every cycle for a total of 52 per year. Mushrooms, vegetables and fish are the most sensitive to the moon's rotations."
A very special award was presented at Madrid Fusión, Chef of the Year, which went to a group of leading Spanish chefs with a staunch commitment to sustainability and the fight against food waste at their restaurants: Andoni L. Aduriz, Rodrigo de la Calle, Ricard Camarena, Xavier Pellicer, Ignacio Echapresto, Fernando del Cerro, Luis Callealta and Javier Olleros. "They're chefs who, for many years, have defended and continue to defend vegetable-based cooking and everything it represents," said the president of Madrid Fusión, José Carlos Capel.
Another very important award for Spanish gastronomy's international focus is the Premio Alimentos de España award, presented to Nieves Barragán, from Sabor restaurant in London.