Last Wednesday, San Sebastián Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country took home the winning cheese at the 45th Shepherd’s Cheese Competition made by the shepherds of Ordizia for 8,750 euros.

 The congress will use the cheese so that Gastronomika’s visitors can enjoy it during the different activities planned from October 7 to 10.

San Sebastián Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country led the auction to purchase the best Idiazabal cheese that won the 45th Shepherd’s Cheese Competition using raw milk from Latxa or Carranzana sheep held on Wednesday in the town of Ordizia Gipuzkoa. Gastronomika obtained the prizewinning half cheese for 8,750 euros, receiving it from the hands of the producer who won the competition, the young 26-year-old shepherd from Lekaroz (Navarre) Julen Arburua, from SC Kortaria.

Iñigo Iribarnegaray, General Manager of Gastronomy for the Vocento Group, collected the cheese and highlighted the territorial link of the congress: “San Sebastián Gastronomika is 20 years old and one of its objectives is to show local products, as in this bid.” According to Iribarnegaray, the half cheese obtained “will be used in the many tasting activities we will be putting on, so whoever comes to Gastronomika will be able to try it”.

To validate the winner and the winning cheese, the Idiazabal contest had a jury made up of chefs, gourmets, journalists and technical experts from the Tasting Committee of the Idiazabal Denomination of Origin, all chaired by the illustrious Juan Mari Arzak. Among the chefs, the jury included Martín Berasategui, Hilario Arbelaitz, Pedro Subijana, Elena Arzak, Ander González, Zigor Iturrieta, Aizpea Oihaneder and Nicolás Ramírez. Other tasters included journalist José Ribagorda, film director and scriptwriter Joxe Mari Goenaga, who was also born in Ordizia, and Xabier Alkorta, chairman of the 18th Congress of Basque Studies and the Eusko Ikaskuntza centenary events.

The first date on record for holding the Shepherd’s Cheese Competition in Ordizia was 1904, when the winner received 30 pesetas. After 45 editions, the Shepherd’s Cheese Competition – organised by the Ordizia Town Council, with the collaboration of the Idiazabal Cheese Brotherhood of Ordizia and the Idiazabal Denomination of Origin – has settled and gained in quality and popularity, reaching the 8,750 euros paid this year for the best piece. A curious fact is that the first auction at the contest was held in 1980 and the winning piece was taken by Juan Mari Arzak for 12,000 pesetas.

San Sebastian Gastronomika 2018. The start of the revolution

Roser Torras, director of San Sebastián Gastronomika; Julen Arburua, the winning shepherd, and Iñigo Iribarnegaray, General Manager of Gastronomy for the Vocento Group

The revolution in contemporary gastronomy that has changed the world began twenty years ago in San Sebastian, the beginnings of a culinary mythology, based on freedom and a borderless perspective that not only turned the cooking of the time upside down, but also transformed gastronomy into a global experience. 20 years ago a congress was born that supported and encouraged it. Therefore, to combine the celebrations, San Sebastian Gastronomika 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of the gastronomic congress in the Gipuzkoan capital from October 8 to 10 and offer a programme to pay tribute to the chefs and the know-how that they presented to the world, and to those who followed on after them at the forefront worldwide.

To this end, it will feature a line-up of the leading characters of this revolution (Martín Berasategui, Pedro Subijana, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Hilario Arbelaitz, Eneko Atxa, Josean Alija, Joan Roca, Carme Ruscalleda, Quique Dacosta, Ángel León, Paco Pérez, Dani García, Nacho Manzano and Pedro and Marcos Morán) all in performance formats that have never been seen before, many of them presenting their outstanding disciples for the first time in a generational handover show. The old stars will be accompanied by those who have succeeded them in their success, such as Diego Guerrero, Paco Morales, Miguel Ángel Mayor, Maria José San Román, Kiko Moya, Alberto Ferruz, Ricard Camarena, Xanti Elías and Yolanda León.

The future is sustainable and international

The future linked to the past and to the present of sustainability, one of the trends that the congress in San Sebastian also wants to highlight. Germán Martitegui, Rodrigo de la Calle, Rodolfo Guzmán and Chele González, will talk about this, together with an international figure, the Peruvian, Virgilio Martínez. The Italian Matías Perdomo and José Andrés, the great Spanish icon in America, also a child of the gastronomic revolution that this country underwent, will come to San Sebastián from beyond the Iberian Peninsula. To conclude, Frenchman Paul Pairet (Ultraviolet, Shaghai) and the Japanese Yoshihiro Narisawa (Narisawa, Tokyo) will demonstrate the evolution of world gastronomy like few others.