It's possible that the most recent edition of Salón Gourmets bears little or no resemblance to the first one, held three and a half decades ago. While it's true that that Ibérico hams, cheeses and EVOOs were already present in the very first editions, new products have been added as Spanish gastronomy—which brings together tradition and avant-garde—has evolved tremendously. This 35th edition, for which masks were no longer required, allowed the sector to return with a bang, thanks to the enthusiasm of exhibitors, sponsors, and visitors.
The conference included the usual awards, which aim to highlight the year's most outstanding products and companies. The innovation award, which generally anticipates sector trends, went to La Unión Long Fresh, which allows frozen fruits and vegetables to maintain the same organoleptic characteristics as fresh products. The presentation award went to Belenguer 1928's Calanda peach and macadamia nut dark chocolate, while Manetti's Gold Chef 24kt edible gold leaf won the versatility award, which recognizes a product for its uniqueness and ability to enrich gastronomic heritage through its multiple applications. The award for the most nutritionally complete organic product went to Ada Organic Gin London Dry, a 100% organic triple distilled gin with berries, including wild strawberry, from Pazo Valdomiño.
One of the most eagerly awaited awards was for the best cheese in Spain, which was presented for the 12th time. The winner was Olavidia, from the company Quesos y Besos, in Guarromán (Jaén), which also won first prize at the World Cheese Awards a few months ago. The fair this year also included the first edition of the World EVOO Salón Gourmets Competition. The packaging and innovation award went to Loa 77, from Oleum Laguna S.L.; the high polyphenol content award went to Cielo y Tierra Picual, from Cielo y Tierra Olive, S.L.; the PDO and PGI quality award went to Oleo Subbética, from Marín Serrano El Lagar, S.L., in PDO Priego de Córdoba. The prize for quality organic EVOO went to Rincón de la Subbética, from Almazaras de la Subbética (Carcabuey, Córdoba).
The awards by EVOO category were as follows: The Quality EVOO Salón Gourmets distinction, in the mature fruity category, went to Castillo de Tudején, from Dehesa del Castillo (Aranjuez, Madrid). The medium green fruitiness award went to Virgen de la Torre, from S.C.A. Virgen de la Torre (La Victoria, Córdoba), while the best intense green fruitiness award went to Molino del Genil Picual, from Molino del Genil (Córdoba).
Products were also the focus of two of the most important events at the conference. First, the European Union's collective brand, Corpinnat was presented. It was created to enhance the value of sparkling wines made in Penedès from 100% organic grapes harvested by hand and vinified entirely on the property. Wild game meat was also in the spotlight in a masterclass offered by chef Luis Alberto Lera, owner of Lera Restaurant (1 Michelin star, 1 Michelin green star, and 2 Repsol suns), during which the chef prepared dishes with deer loin and shoulder of roe deer.
Chefs' roundtables: a space for dialogue
As usual, the last day of the event was also a meeting point for some of the industry's most prominent professionals. The discussion entitled "Diversification of the figure of the chef: Owners, chefs, and gastronomic advisors," was attended by Carme Ruscalleda (San Pau and Moments), Paco Pérez (Miramar restaurant and Enoteca Paco Pérez), Toño Pérez (Atrio and La Torres de Sande), Mario Sandoval (Coque), and Íñigo Urrechu (Urrechu Velázquez and Zalacaín).
The second roundtable focused on the "Eruption of organic, biodynamic, and natural wines onto the wine scene," and brought together Pepe Raventós (Raventós i Blanc), Friedrich Schatz (Bodega F. Schatz), Isaac Muga Palacín (Bodegas Muga), Ángel González Garrido (Marbella Club Hotel), and María Elena Adell (Pernord Ricard).
Salón Gourmets, which saw record numbers this year, bids farewell until 2023. A total of 80,421 people attended the trade fair, where 1,611 exhibitors showcased their products in a space spanning 45,636 m2. These numbers confirm the important moment the sector is experiencing and are the perfect excuse to raise a glass a make a toast, until next year.