Seven Spanish Michelin Stars Shine Bright in the 2018 Chefsache Sky
Elena Arzak, Josep Roca and Andreu Genestra participate in the most important culinary conference in Germany.
Text: Manuel Uzcanga - Spain Trade Commission in Düsseldorf/©ICEX
The tenth edition of the Chefsache culinary conference took place on September 16th and 17th, 2018, in Düsseldorf – marking a decade of this, the most important culinary event in Germany. During its ten year lifetime, this event has introduced central European audiences to the greatest figures in international cuisine, including a significant cadre of Spanish chefs. The three Roca brothers, Elena Arzak, Andoni Aduriz, Albert Adriá, Quique Dacosta, Eneko Atxa, Andreu Genestra and Fernando Canales have all appeared over the years, demonstrating their culinary creativity at an event geared towards a demanding, well-informed and professional audience.
“Live and on Stage” is the cornerstone of this conference, consisting of chefs preparing their creations in front of more than 700 spectators – an event that was complimented this year by two training modules: “Masterclasses” and “School of Wine.” During the Masterclasses, Erich Eichstetter, a Culinary Researcher at the Basque Culinary Center explained the concept and current projects being undertaken at Spain’s prestigious culinary university.
Andreu Genestra presented his innovative and regional cuisine with the help of two chefs he works with. Trained at elBulli, Arzak and Mugariz, this chef from Mallorca carries out his profession surrounded by vineyards and olive plantations, and finds inspiration in both international techniques and regional products. Using salt-cured sardines, tomatoes from his garden, monkfish, octopus, and pork from the Mallorcan Cerdo Negro breed, Andreu Genestra gave a live demonstration of dishes as original as an Ensaimada de Ventresca de Bonito (albacore tuna belly) with Marmitako and a Chardonnay aspic; a T-bone Steak Carpaccio that has been aged and smoked, served with tripe and dehydrated melon; and monkfish that had been dried and salt-cured in the sun to preserve its flavor before cooking, and then accompanied by its own foie, a cured egg with date and olive sauce, and an almond tortilla.
Josep Roca introduced himself to the public by saying, humorously, that “Joan takes care of the savory food, Jordi the sweets and I do the liquids,” followed later by “customers are like Bonsai (trees), you have to take care of them.” After explaining the restaurant’s philosophy and trajectory, he began his culinary demonstrations with a reflection on the classic combination of oysters and Champagne, reinterpreted using a fat-soluble combination and water-soluble texture, in an effort to capture the aromatic nuances of an aromatized and texturized Cava with a cold gelifier over a base of liquid apple, pineapple, ginger and cumin. Next, he presented a dish representing all three Roca brothers, and not just because it was cooked over rocas (rocks): crayfish with Palo Cortado Sherry cooked using a “perfume cooking process.” He then continued with a homage to German wine grower Bernhard Breuer and the variety Riesling, using mussels as a mineral substrate on which to deposit diverse gels – rejecting the characteristic flavors of the Saar, Nahe or Pfalz regions, in favor of the aromas lent by bergamot, green apple, truffle and cardamom.
Introduced as one of the 50 best Chefs in the world, Elena Arzak spoke in fluent German throughout the entire conference and focused on transmitting the culinary tradition and modernity of her land and restaurant. Arzak has its own, avant-garde, contemporary cuisine, which is currently at an inflection point that is seeking simplification in terms of the dishes’ presentation, and recovering the joy that food should provoke, as expressed by Elena. She illustrated this concept by presenting oysters on the grill, stuffed with black garlic, nuts and leeks and served over puréed sesame. Other examples of this, which she cooked and explained during her presentation, were a txangurro a la Donostiarra, stuffed with poached vegetables and tomato sauce and flambéed with a mixture of Sherry and tequila; as well as some hake kokotxas accompanied by turmeric puree, poached vegetables and olive oil; yucca cooked in red wine, truffle vinaigrette, crunchy squid and onion, soy and turmeric purée.
This edition of Chefsache attracted more than 3,000 professional visitors from the HORECA industry, among them over 180 journalists and bloggers. A total of 50 speakers took part, and there was also an exposition space for some 100 companies, among them, the Spanish companies Pordamsa, Gonzalez Byass, Sosa Ingredients and Simogas. The company Transgourmet, the second most important in Germany in the HORECA sector, had a large space dedicated to demonstrating its culinary know-how; the Jeunes Restaurateurs association participated with its own stand, as did other public organizations, including ETG Beef of Baveria, the Canadian promotional office for food, and that of wines from Austria.
Translation: Adrienne Smith/@ICEX