The director of San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country, Roser Torras, accompanied by the president of the gastronomy section of the Vocento Group, Benjamín Lana, and Hilario Arbelaitz, Elena Arzak, Martín Berasategui and Andoni Luis Aduriz as representatives of the Technical Committee of the congress (which Josean Alija, Karlos Arguiñano, Juan Mari Arzak, Eneko Atxa and Pedro Subijana also form part of), has officially  presented this Friday at the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) the 21st year of the great world congress of haute cuisine, which will be taking over Donosti from this Sunday (with activities open to the general public) to next Wednesday, the 9th of October.


After celebrating its twentieth anniversary last year, and the anniversary of the gastronomic revolution that Spain went through two decades ago, Gastronomika will be continuing with anniversaries in 2019. From the 6th to the 9th of October, the great San Sebastián congress will be commemorating the fifth centenary of the voyage that Juan Sebastian Elkano, from Getaria, went on (together with Magellan) to complete the first journey around the world by ship. A gastronomically-inspired journey (the search for spices) that empirically proved the theories that claimed that the world was not flat, a journey that was “bold, just like we ourselves and Gastronomika should be”, according to Aduriz, who began to share how the congress will do this by bringing together the evolution of cuisines and products that those sailors discovered during a journey lasting three years. This will be a unique journey around the world of aromas and flavours, which will show aspects ranging from traditional cuisine to current innovations by the chefs and countries that are taking part.


The presentation was attended by Joxé Mari Aizega, director of the BCC; Leandro Azkue, head of the Basque Government department of Fishing and Aquaculture; Ainhoa Aizpuru, councillor for Strategic Projects at Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, and Ernesto Gasco, second deputy mayor of San Sebastián City Council, who stressed the role that the congress plays in the current position that the city occupies. Gasco himself was pleased about one of the great innovations at Gastronomika 19: the organisation of the 1st Pintxos and Tapas Congress, a competition within the competition with individual and group presentations, “a debt that the congress has with the city”, the director explained. “A new format to enhance and delve further into the increasingly more varied and busy sector of tapas, pintxos, snack counters, catering services and gastro-bars”, Lana described in detail. It will take place on Wednesday morning and will feature Nandu Jubany (Can Jubany*, Barcelona); Enrique Fleischmann (Txoko, Getaria); Nacho Manzano (Casa Marcial**, Arriondas); Carlos Bosch and Nuria España (El Portal, Alicante) or Paul Arrillaga (El Zazpi, San Sebastián).


The adventurous gastronomic spirit of Elkano’s voyage will provide the leitmotiv of the congress, which will be showing off its origins by also starting out from Getaria and from Elkano, in this case from the Elkano restaurant, to go down to Andalusia and set sail in search of flavours by retracing the original route: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, the Philippines, Indonesia and back to Spain. Exotic items, unheard-of customs, unknown chefs and big stars. It is a melting pot of international culinary experiences that coincide in San Sebastián with the welcome and presentation as hosts by the group of Basque chefs. “We will be ambassadors, we will be teaching but we will also be learning from the people who visit us”, Elena Arzak mentioned. This is the spirit of Elkano, and the spirit of Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country.


The party starts this Sunday


San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country is not just a congress for restaurant business professionals but is an event that mobilises a city and a region. This year, as a novelty, the brotherly activity between congress and city is changing its day and location. Chef for 1 day, the popular event sponsored by Super Amara that allows two adults and two children to cook alongside great chefs, is leaving the Boulevard and is moving to the Chamber Hall at the Kursaal on Sunday morning on the 6th of October. From 11:30 to 13:30, the four amateurs that have been selected will cook with the help of Pablo Loureiro (Casa Urola, San Sebastián), Sergio Humada (Txintxardin, Lasarte), Ly Leap (Indochine & Nelumbo, Barcelona) and JP Anglo (Sarsa, Manila, the Philippines) in an activity that is completely free-of-charge, and will precede the opening of the Street Food section.


From noon on Sunday to 19.00 on Wednesday the 9th, the porches at the Kursaal will be serving food for anyone who wants it. This is the Street Food section of Gastronomika, which this year the following chefs will take part in: Ly Leap (Indochine & Nelumbo, Barcelona, who will be offering chicken adobo and Banh Song Coco, the vegan version and with prawns and noodles with coconut cream), Pablo Airaudo (Amelia & 1985 Cantina Argentina, San Sebastián, and his choripán/sausage sandwich) and Carito Lourenço and Germán Carrizo (Doña Petrona, Valencia, with their empanada).


The Street Food section at Gastronomika will be running from 11.00 to 20.00h (except on Sunday and Wednesday, when it will end at 19:00). It costs 4€ (1 pincho and a drink) or 6€ (2 pinchos and a drink).


The top national and international figures


As for the congress stars-programme, the pool of Basque stars will be followed by the top grill chefs from Getaria, who will be giving a joint presentation to champion the grilling culture that comes from Elkano’s legacy. Enrique Fleischmann (Txoko Getaria), Igor Arregi (Kaia-Kaipe), Markel Iribar (Balearri), Gorka Lazkano (Astillero) and Aitor Arregi (Elkano*) will explain the history of grilling in Getaria from the legacy left by the navigator right up to its current level of refinement. A group talk that will provide a glimpse of the attachment that the town and the country have to their gastronomic culture, explained and described in detail by its speakers, that is directly linked to the reasons for this year’s congress.


Having established the concept for the congress, some of the very best national chefs such as Josean Alija (Nerua*, Bilbao), Hilario Arbelaitz (Zuberoa*, Oiartzun), Elena and Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak***, San Sebastián), Eneko Atxa (Azurmendi***, Larrabetzu), Martín Berasategui (Martín Berasategui***, Lasarte), Pedro Subijana (Akelarre***, San Sebastián), Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca***, Girona) will be attending the 21st Gastronomika, and Dani García (Dani García***, Marbella), who will be coming on stage for the last time as a three-star chef.


Ángel León (Aponiente***, El Puerto de Santa María); Fina Puigdevall (Les Cols**, Olot); Eduard Xatruch, Oriol Castro y Mateu Casañas (Disfrutar**, Barcelona); Carles Abellan (La Barra*, Barcelona), o Nandu Jubany (Can Jubany*, Calldetenes*). Rafa Zafra (Estimar, Barcelona), Begoña Rodrigo (La Salita, Valencia), Maca de Castro (Maca de Castro*, Alcudia), Elena Lucas (La Lobita*, Soria), Paulo Airaudo (Amelia*, San Sebastián) or Luis Alberto Lera (Lera*, Castroverde de Campos) are also taking part and will be representing the young or not so young chefs who are already in the forefront of gastronomy.


At an event that is even more international if possible, Gastronomika has invited a dozen of the very best chefs from the countries that the illustrious Basque visited on his journey. Following his route, Bel Coelho (Clandestino, Sao Paulo, Brazil); Jefferson Rueda (A Casa do Porco, Sao Paulo, Brazil); Carolina Bazán (Ambrosía, Santiago, Chile); Kurt Schmidt (Restaurante 99, Santiago, Chile); Christina Sunae (Sunae Asian Cantina, Buenos Aires, Argentina); Sau del Rosario (25 Seeds, Ángeles, Philippines); JP Anglo (Sarsa, Manila, Philippines); Kevin Cherkas (Cuca Flavour, Bali, Indonesia) and Ray Adriansyah y Eelke Plasmeijer (Locavore, Bali, Indonesia) will be taking part.


Although they come from countries that the seafarer didn’t set foot in, Najat Kaanache (Nur Restaurant, Fez, Morroco), Vladimir Mukhin (White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia) or Leonor Espinosa (Leo, Bogota, Colombia) will also be here, and in this way will round off the journey around the world that began 500 years ago. Arregi and his troupe will be watching attentively from the auditorium. Getaria will once again become the centre of the world.


Awards and tributes


The Congress Tribute Award is travelling to San Pol de Mar (Barcelona) to be presented to the only female chef in the world to amass up to 7 Michelin stars, Carme Ruscalleda. The Golden Gueridon, the award that Gastronomika presents to the world of dining and wine, crosses the Pyrenees to go to Denis Courtiade (Plaza Athénée, Paris), and the International Gastronomic Journalism Award “Pau Albornà i Torras”, will go to the Catalan Cristina Jolonch, the journalist from La Vanguardia.


Activities at Gastronomika


San Sebastian Gastronomika has programmed about thirty activities so that, together with the presentations in the auditorium, congress delegates and visitors can get the most out of the three professional congress days. Produce sessions, tasting guided by the very best national and international chefs or wine tasting from top bodegas have been programmed so that there is not a single space left, to ensure that congress delegates find just what they want (promoted by a 30% discount on purchases in three activities and a 40% discount for purchases in more than four). Perhaps they’ll find this in the activity rooms, or perhaps at the Market, the home of companies and networking that this year has the same size in square metres (5,000m2) and in the number of companies (170) “to improve the user’s experience”, Javier Yurrita, the commercial director of the congress, explained


The legendary National Grilling Competition, which this year is celebrating its tenth anniversary, will definitely be successful once again or the San Miguel – National Russian Potato Salad Competition, that will try to find the home of the best Russian potato salad in España 2019. These are two of about thirty parallel activities at the congress. Another, for example, is the discussion that the Young Restaurateurs Association of Europe will be having in the Chamber Hall, and that will end with a tribute to the restaurateurs Juan Mari Arzak and Josep Monje. Two of the most exclusive formats, which allow a small group of chosen people to work alongside some of the leading chefs (Cooking with, with Begoña Rodrigo and Pedro Subijana) and Private Cooking sessions (with Carolina Bazán and Najat Kaanache), will also be taking place.


The dinners at Gastronomika 2019


As is usually the case, the daytime activity at the congress is rounded off by various dinners, among which two stand out: the opening dinner, and the one that Ángel León, Joan Roca, Jordi Cruz, Eneko Atxa, Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, Pedro Subijana and Martín Berasategui (all with 3 Michelin stars) will be preparing on Monday at the Basque Culinary Center to praise Carme Ruscalleda, who during the day will have received the Congress Tribute Award in the auditorium. “An honour to host one of the best dinners in the history of the congress”, Joxé Mari Aizega said: eight Michelin three-star chefs cooking for the woman with the most stars in the world. “A historic dinner”.


Before this, on Sunday, the congress will have held its opening dinner, on this occasion with the focus on Getaria. At a dinner based around various locations, Gorka Lazkano (Astillero), Aitor Arregi (Elkano), Enrique Fleischmann (Txoko Getaria), Markel Iribar (Balearri) and Igor Arregi (Kaia- Kaipe) will provide the 300 diners with the taste of grilling in the town.


San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country 2019 is starting. From the very first to the latest journey around the world, proving that culinary knowledge transcends languages or borders. From Getaria and back to Getaria. Welcome to San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country 2019.