From his restaurant, Akelarre, which has been converted into a stage, Pedro Subijana looked back at some of his great dishes in the year in which the three-star restaurant is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. The chef showed us some of the techniques used in the past, but that are now overlooked as a result of evolution.
Subijana made his presentation highlighting the evolution of culinary techniques used in his cooking at previous editions of the congress. “There are dishes from 30 or 40 years ago which we don't like any more, so we have to update them”, the chef confessed. This was followed by a video showing the evolution of the restaurant from its inception to the present day - the last renovation was at the beginning of this year, although nobody was able to enjoy it for long as the establishment had to close down due to the pandemic - reflecting this eagerness to continue making progress.
After the video, Subijana, along with a cook from his team, prepared four of these recipes that have survived the passage of time by making them contemporary. Sardine terrine with a cream of ratatouille, a cream of spicy sardine and fried head and spine; squid with ajilimójili sauce, a cream of red pepper, cream of red onion and chard-stuffed pastry; sole with kombu seaweed skin and deep fried bones; and a dessert, ‘Frantxineta’ with rhubarb cream.
The presentation, which was a real cooking lesson peppered with family experiences and references, concluded with a reflection on how gastronomy has evolved over his more than 45 years in the profession. “In our kitchen there has always been sincerity, eagerness, humility and a great desire to please. And every day we realise that we know little and want to know more. Another important thing that we have experienced over the years has been the recognition of the profession and the collaboration and bond that exists between cooks. Without it, this would not be possible. Before, chefs did not reveal their recipes, they were kept hidden. Nowadays, in this respect, we have also evolved”. As far as the trend to describe the cuisine of some restaurants as “produce” is concerned, Subijana confesses that this is nonsense because “without produce, there is no cuisine”. “Now it's a matter of explaining cooking with very complicated names that you don't understand at all, and it has always been simpler”, he added. And local produce? “We are very self-critical and for us, products play an important role. We prefer to use local produce, but I won't refuse to bring products from somewhere else, as long as I have the guarantee that I am getting the best”.