French cuisine welcomes the re-encounter with open arms in an attempt to move forward together. On the last day of the conference, Joan Roca lists the French maestros who most influenced the beginnings of El Celler de Can Roca. ”Above all, the Troisgros, and also because they were brothers”.
The 23rd San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country congress finished up on Wednesday, an event featuring a re-encounter with the city and with the general public at the Kursaal, with a splendid turnout in the main auditorium and the trade fair zone. Donostia was the world epicentre of gastronomy once more, over three days. It was also a re-encounter with France and French cuisine, in attendance with some of its best ambassadors, welcoming the event with open arms in an attempt to move forward together. Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Dutournier and Marc Veyrat built bridges between the two countries, twinning Alain Ducasse gastronomically with the recent inauguration of ADMO alongside Albert Adrià, a restaurant featured at this Gastronomika.
Three days of talks and exchanges that have confirmed the strength of the sector in the wake of the pandemic, and the retrieval of large-scale congresses. With figures similar to the last in situ event (12,061 accreditations, 1,479 congress attendees from 38 countries, 150 exhibitors and 354 journalist accreditations), San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country comes to a close, consolidating the new era of gastronomy events and demonstrating interest both in situ - with large numbers in attendance - and also online, as the talks were released on Internet during and after the event.
The French geniuses who inspired Joan Roca
The creativity of Gagnaire, Pic's grand restaurant model, Blanc's vacuum-cooked broiler breasts, Guérard's books, Senderens' wine-plate binomial, the harmony of the Troisgros brothers, Bras' gargouillou ... As so many other chefs have done over these three days, on Wednesday Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca***, Girona*) took a look back at the French influence on his cooking, specifying a few names. “Each of them taught us something. All together, which is a great restaurant” was his definition.
This was one of the major talks on the last day of Gastronomika, which also featured Paco Morales (Noor**, Córdoba), who cooked recipes with ingredients "that came from America, something we had discarded until now to focus on Andalusian cookery", or Aitor Arregi, the man behind the family business at Elkano* (Getaria), back at the Kursaal to showcase the current reality and the future of Elkano, 18 years after his father. Arregi was on stage with Pablo Vicari, who is like a brother to him, and the restaurant's grill chefs, one of whom cooked a croaker fish on the grill outside the Kursaal.
“We have the world's best job”
During the morning session, Jorge Bretón, John Regefalk and Luis Arrufat, three lecturers at the Basque Culinary Center, kicked off the last day of talks at San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country, taking a look back at the first ten years of this educational institution. They were followed by three more speakers, in this case the owners of traditional and family businesses in Madrid - Irene Guiñales (Casa Pedro), Juan Manuel del Rey (Corral de la Morería Gastronómico*) and Alberto Fernández Bombín (Asturianos), who had different ways of updating tradition (softening sauces in some cases –Fernández-, and sticking to traditional recipes in others –Guiñales-) but they agreed on one idea: “We have the world's best job”.
The last day also featured Ekaitz Apraiz (Tunateca, Barcelona), who gave a masterclass on Balfegó red tuna; Beatriz González (Neva Cuisine, Paris), who explained French taste in relation to Mexican cooking, and Amandine Chaignot (Pouliche, Paris, France), demonstrating a form of cuisine where meat or fish "merely accompany the rest of it".
The last two talks at Gastronomika 21 homed in on sustainability worldwide. Chele González (Gallery by Chele, Manila, Indonesia) pointed out the "impossibility of being sustainable if produce doesn't reach everyone". The Cantabrian explained the system he has set up to cook and sell at a fair price "by cutting out the intermediaries". Virgilio Martínez (Central, Lima), finished up the congress with a plea for preservation of the environment and the natural movement of "paiche" fish seeds and cocoa, "to thrive wherever they want with no need for any CO2".
The last competition winners
The last day of Gastronomika 2021 revealed the winner of the 2nd National "Tierra de Sabor" Chickpea Championship: La Botica de Matapozuelos* (Matapozuelos, Valladolid), with a toasted chickpea dessert, and also of the 12th National Grill Competition: Manu Yebras of Pura Brasa (Barcelona). Best meat was “Beef on Food”. This is the second time in twelve years that the winner has not been Basque. In 2016 the award went to Lomo Alto, another Barcelona restaurant.
Figures - San Sebastian Gastronomika 2021
354 journalist accreditations
534 people working at the event