Celebrating Spanish Gastronomy at the 33rd Salón Gourmets
The Salón Gourmets brings the best of Spanish foods and beverages to Madrid this April 8–11, 2019.
Springtime in Madrid can only mean one thing to gastronomy professionals: the Salón Gourmets, the prestigious annual trade fair that not only attracts a huge range of fine food producers from all over Spain, but also buyers, distributors, chefs and other professionals from this sector from all over the world — all seeking a taste of the very best that this country has to offer.
ICEX and Foods & Wines from Spain will participate in the upcoming edition of Salón Gourmets with an activity to help create new international business opportunities for Spanish companies. They are sponsoring the Salón de Gourmets Hosted Buyers program, for which Spain's Economic and Commercial Offices around the world selected 17 buyers from the following countries: South Korea, Croatia, Ecuador, the US, Guatemala, India, the Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Austria and Switzerland.
The buyers and distributors will participate in meetings in the Hosted Buyers area from April 8th to the 10th. After participating in Salón de Gourmets, they will embark on a trip to discover the foods and wines of Castile-León with scheduled visits to a selection of agri-food companies organized by ICEX and Foods & Wines from Spain.
This year, the 33rd edition of this multitudinous event — the largest of its kind for delicatessen products in Europe — promises to be better than ever. This says a lot, given that last year’s Salón welcomed approximately 1,600 exhibitors, 90,000 visitors, 12,000 international buyers from 63 countries, and more than 900 activities. These activities in particular are a huge draw, returning year after year to the delight of visitors. Let’s have a look at some of these not-to-be-missed events:
26th Concurso de Cortadores de Jamón Dehesa de Extremadura
On Monday, April 8th, famed Spanish chef Elena Arzak will join other judges on the panel of this much-anticipated annual ham carving contest. In search of the title of “Best Ham Carver in Spain,” the six contestants will have an hour and a half to carve a leg of ham apiece, while being rated based on style and technique, as well as cleanliness, speed, size and width of the slices, yield and presentation; and the ability to estimate a 100-gram portion of ham. This year’s competition will include a new prize for the “Best Creative / Artistic Dish,” and contestants will also have to answer questions about Spanish ham culture.
26th New Products Exhibition
One of the most popular areas of the fair, this is where visitors go to see the newest and most innovative products in today’s marketplace. This year’s “New Products” section will feature more than 1,200 quality food and drink products, on display in glass exhibition cases. After buyers, producers, journalists and the panel of prestigious judges have had the opportunity to examine these goods over the duration of the event, the Salón Gourmets will announce the winners of the three corresponding awards: the “Innovation Award,” which recognizes R+D investment and the development of a unique product; the “Presentation Award,” which showcases the aesthetic values of a product’s presentation and the balance between its beauty and informative value; and the “Versatility Award,” which is given to the product whose singular nature and multiple applications encourage the enrichment of gastronomic heritage.
25th Spanish Sommelier Championship Tierra de Sabor
This year marks a quarter of a century of this competition, which was created not only to promote the excellent work of these homegrown professionals and award the title of “Best Sommelier in Spain,” but also to select this country’s representative for the world championships. The competition is divided into two parts. The top three contestants from the semi-finals will compete in the finals on Wednesday, April 10th, during which time they will have to perform an oral wine tasting, the identification of spirits, liqueurs and drinks; and wine decanting and service, among other tasks.
24th Ministry of Agriculture Wine Tunnel
Another of the fair’s most enduring and popular attractions, this section hosts approximately 30,000 visitors a year, all keen to sample the large selection of Spain’s excellent wines, which are organized here by grape variety. This year’s “tunnel” will feature more than 350 wines from 267 wineries that have been chosen by the Ministry of Agriculture’s technicians in collaboration with the Wine Guide Tasting Committee of Gourmets Group. This area also offers a range of different wine tastings hosted by important Spanish wineries, as well as introductory Spanish wine tasting courses.
2nd Ministry of Agriculture Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tunnel
Not to be outdone, this relatively new addition to the Salón Gourmets provides a sensory tour through Spain’s Protected Denomination of Origin extra virgin olive oils, emphasizing their aromas, flavors, varieties, production methods, ecological management issues, origins, and more. Visitors can taste a large selection of Spanish extra virgin olive oils, including the winners of the Ministry’s annual awards.
16th International Cooking Contest EVOO Jaén Paraíso Interior
If Spanish extra virgin olive oil is your passion, you should also make a point of attending this prestigious cooking competition, which will take place on the morning of Wednesday, April 10th.
This event invites chefs from all over the world to create haute gastronomy using extra virgin olive oils made in the Andalusian province of Jaén — vying for three top prizes that are worth a total of 12,000 euros. The eight olive oils used for the competition were the recipients of this year’s Jaén Selección quality seal: Bravoleum Selección Especial Picual from Aceites Hacienda el Palo, Castillo de Canena Reserva Familiar Picual from Castillo de Canena, Dominus Cosecha Temprana from Monva, Maquiz from Aceites de Maquiz, Oro Bailén Picual from Aceites Oro Bailén – Galgón 99, Picualia Premium Reserva from Agrícola de Bailén Virgen de Zocueca, Pradolivo Cosecha Temprana from Aceites Perales Baeza and UnOlivo Ecológico from N.E. Nuevos Espacios.
This year’s contestants represent restaurants located all over Spain, as well as Spanish restaurant Ametsa in London. They will be judged by an expert panel that includes chefs Juanjo López of Madrid’s famed La Tasquita de Enfrente restaurant, Juan Carlos Trujillo of Restaurante Canela en Rama in Linares, and Sergi Arola, in addition to other notable gastronomy experts.
10th GourmetQuesos / Best Spanish Cheese Championship
The selection of cheeses on display at the Salón Gourmets is truly one of its high points, with the nearly thirty protected denomination of origin cheeses from Spain sharing the spotlight with more than fifty traditional cheeses and other specialty products from all over the country. This annual competition serves to demonstrate the excellence and variety of Spanish cheeses, and is considered the most rigorous and important competition of its kind in this country.
This year, 840 cheeses were submitted to the competition, 70% of which are considered artisan cheeses. The panel of fifty experts comprised of technicians, master cheese makers, store managers, food journalists, chefs, department store managers and others, makes a pre-selection of cheeses — there were 72 during last year’s competition — and the awards are handed out for the “Best Cheeses of Spain,” on the last day of the fair.
Round Table Discussions and much more
In addition to the aforementioned events, there is plenty more to see and do at the four-day Salón Gourmets. This includes two different sessions of round table discussions, one on Spanish gourmet products and their projection in global markets, and the other entitled, “The Language of Wine,” which will examine how a more accessible and emotional language can be used with regard to wine consumption. Each of these topics will rely on a group of expert speakers from the respective areas.
Other noteworthy activities are the 10th National Panizo Cocktail Contest, the 6th Draft Beer National Championship / Estrella Galicia (as well as the 5th Madrid Draft Beer Championship), the 3rd Spanish Beef from Asturias PGI Contest, and a large selection of tastings, master classes and cooking demonstrations.
And if you can’t make it to everything on the schedule, do not dismay. GourmetsTV will return this year with its live, HD-streaming of the four-day fair that can also be followed on the Salón Gourmets (#SG18) social networks.
Text: Adrienne Smith /@ICEX