San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country 2018 has formally launched its 20th congress, with a focus on tributes and acknowledgements which will start this weekend with activities open to the public in the city.


The presentation of the congress, held at the Basque Culinary Center, has finished by recognising the importance of the Basque agro-food sector with a dinner prepared by eleven young Basque cooks.


The director of San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country, Roser Torras, accompanied by the Gastronomy  General Manager for the Vocento group, Iñigo Iribarnegaray, and Hilario Arbelaitz and Pedro Subijana as representatives of the Techncial Committee (that Josean Alija, Karlos Arguiñano, Juan Mari Arzak, Eneko Atxa, Martín Berasategui  and Andoni Luis Aduriz also form part of) has officially presented  this Thursday in the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), the 20th year of the great international haute cuisine event, which will take over Donosti from this weekend (with activities open to the public) up to next Wednesday, the 10th of October.


After rounding off the culinary world map in 2016 and presenting a gastronomic power that is creating a buzz (India) in 2017, Gastronomika 18 is facing a special congress, its twentieth anniversary, a major event that coincides with the gastronomic revolution that Spain experienced two decades ago that the congress was a spokesman for. Because of all this, the 20th San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country has been organised as a retrospective and a forecast at the same time, that pays tribute to a generation of chefs who “put us on the world map, and all those who followed them and  continue to reinforce our position”, Torras pointed out.


The presentation of Gastronomika 18 was attended by Joxé Mari  Aizega, director of the BCC; Eneko Goia, Mayor of San Sebastián, and Denis Itxaso, Councillor of Culture, Tourism, Youth Affairs and Sport for Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, who stressed the role played by the congress in the city’s current position. Arantza Tapia, the Basque Government minister in the Department of Economic Development and Infrastructure; Markel Olano, the Head of Gipuzkoa Provincial Council and Bittor Oroz, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Fishing and Food Policy, also emphasised the importance of Gastronomika, and of the agro-industry in Guipuzcoa and the Basque Country in general.


The dinner prepared by young Basque chefs with produce tasting


The presentation of the congress also served to acknowledge the importance of the Basque agro-food sector and to envisage how it has evolved in the last 20 years through a dinner that was later prepared by the latest batch of Basque chefs and by a tasting of produce developed in collaboration with Azti Tecnalia. “Gastronomika is gastronomy and produce; it recognises the past but never stops looking towards the future, and this dinner is yet another tribute”, Torras said.


The following chefs took part in the dinner: Edorta Lamo (Arrea!, Campezo, Álava), with a wild boar heart with txoricero peppers & chili peppers; Iosu Sainz Munilla (Kaskagorri, Vitoria, Álava), with a Lumagorri ravioli with eco-shitake from Alava; Txema Llamosa (Casa Garras, Concha, Vizkaya), with a Spanish white tuna, its emulsion and farmhouse pickled tomatoes accompanied by a brioche stuffed with tuna belly with spicy tomato; Iker Barrenetxea (Eneko Bilbao, Bilbao, Vizkaya), with euskaltxerri pork sweetmeats glazed in its own juice and Bermeo anchovies; Beñat Ormaetxea (Jauregi Barria, Amorebieta, Vizkaya), with an egg cooked at low temperature on creamed potato and tuna broth; Enrique Fleishmann (Txoko, Getaria, Gipuzkoa), with bonito toast with smoked chipotle; Roberto Ruiz (Hika, Amasa, Gipuzkoa), with Tolosa black beans by Roberto Ruiz, with a vegetable black pudding from Beasain; Juan Carlos Ferrando (Villa Magalean, Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa), with candied pears, bleu des Basque  cheese, tomato and coffee compote; Jon Couso and Aitor Amutxastegi (Arraunlari Berri, Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa), with a nut sauce, and Iñaki Murua (Ikaro, Logroño, La Rioja), with Euskolabel beef ravioli stuffed with truffled stracciatella, vinegar and basil.


Julen Arburua, from the Ordizia Idiazábal Cheese Association, also took part in the evening event at the Basque Culinary Center, and prepared a tasting of the winning cheese from the Ordizia fair. Produce, chefs, passion, respect and future. San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country 2018 is starting.


A really special bill at Gastronomika 18


To ensure that the celebrations are complete, Gastronomika 18, which starts this very weekend with activities open to the public in the city, has programmed up to 40 presentations on the three days of the competition (from Monday the 8th to Wednesday the 10th) and the participation of nearly 70 chefs and catering professionals on the stage at the Kursaal. The leading maestros of Spanish cuisine will also be present at the event, such as Juan Mari y Elena Arzak (Arzak***), Martín Berasategui (Martín Berasategui***, Lasarte), Pedro Subijana (Akelarre***, San Sebastián), Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz**, Renteria), Hilario Arbelaitz (Zuberoa*, Oiartzun), Eneko Atxa (Azurmendi***, Larrabetzu), Josean Alija (Nerua*, Bilbao), Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca***, Girona), Carme Ruscalleda (Sant Pau***, Sant Pol de Mar), Quique Dacosta (Quique Dacosta***, Dénia), Ángel León (Aponiente***, El Puerto de Santa María), Paco Pérez (Miramar**, Llançà), Dani García (Dani García**, Marbella), Diego Guerrero (DSTaGE**, Madrid) or Ramon Freixa (Ramon Freixa**, Madrid).


Joint thematic presentations


Special emphasis has been placed on this occasion on encouraging joint thematic presentations, where two or more professionals will debate a topic. As a result, and linked to the celebration, the journalists José Carlos Capel, Rafael García Santos and Benjamín Lana, and the chefs Quique Dacosta (Quique Dacosta, Dénia) and Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, Girona), will analyse the boom in gastronomy in Spain in the last few years in a joint presentation, as Kiko Moya (L’Escaleta**, Cocentaina), Alberto Ferruz (BonAmb**, Jávea), and Ricard Camarena (Ricard Camarena*, Valencia), also will about Spanish Eastern Coast cooking; Pepe Solla (Solla*, San Salvador de Poio) and Javier Olleros (Culler de Pau*, O Grove),about contemporary Galician cuisine; Albert Raurich (Dos Pebrots, Barcelona), Paco Morales (Noor*, Córdoba) and Miguel Ángel Mayor (Sucede*, Valencia), about historical cuisines, or Nacho Manzano (Casa Marcial**, Arriondas) and Marcos and Pedro Morán, father and son (Casa Gerardo*, Prendes), about the current reality of the gastronomic situation in the Principality.


Eduard Xatruch and Oriol Castro (Disfrutar**, Barcelona) or María José San Román (Monastrell*, Alicante) and Mari Carmen Vélez (La Sirena, Petrel) will also be coming up together on stage , in this case to talk about rice dishes 3.0. The three pillars of Coque** (Madrid), the three Sandoval brothers, Rafael, Diego y Mario, will also be at Gastronomika, together for the first time in a presentation.


The chefs and their pupils


As a new feature this year, many of the great Spanish chefs will also be coming up on stage to present their “outstanding disciples” –most of them already have a restaurant in their own right – in a generous display of generational renewal.


Awards and tributes


This year San Sebastian Gastronomika is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the congress in San Sebastián and is doing so by paying tribute to the revolution that transformed Spanish gastronomy two decades ago. The programme pays homage to the artists in the revolution that marked a radical change in Spanish cooking two decades ago, so the Tribute Award “had to be for a chef who started it all, and who, at the present time, is still working”; for Juan Mari Arzak (San Sebastián, 1942). The chef at the Arzak restaurant, according to the jury, “is a symbol of our gastronomic revolution, with unstoppable culinary creativity and is incredibly generous”.


On this occasion the San Sebastian Gastronomika Golden Gueridón goes to Catalonia to reward the service at what was the best restaurant in the world. Lluís García and Lluís Biosca “were in charge of service at elBulli under the leadership of Juli Soler, and with him they managed to shape a new way of understanding the dining room that was the start of the service revolution that is ongoing today”, and the “Pau Albornà i Torras” International Gastronomic Journalism Award will be presented in memoriam to the late New York journalist Anthony Bourdain.


International sustainable presence


The commitment to contrasting opinions at San Sebastian Gastronomika will also extend to the international presence at the congress, who will be debating as a whole about sustainability, one of the trends that the San Sebastián congress wants to highlight. This will be addressed from various perspectives by chefs who have dealt with diversity from different points of view such as Chele González (Gallery Vask, Manila, Philippines), Rodolfo Guzmán (Boragó, #27 The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Santiago de Chile, Chile), Rodrigo de la Calle (El invernadero*, Madrid) and Germán Martitegui (Tegui, #27 The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Buenos Aires, Argentina). One of the international speakers at the congress, who will be showing us the international state of gastronomy, Virgilio Martínez (Central, second best restaurant in Latin America, Lima, Peru), who is back at Gastronomika after attending in 2014, will also be cooking and talking about sustainability .


The party starts this weekend


San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country 2018 is not just a congress for catering professionals but is also an event that mobilises a city and a region. Although its epicentre is inside the Kursaal centre, the organisers want to get everyone involved and have prepared, as they do every year, a set of activities to enjoy with the cooking and magic of the congress that are free of charge. This Saturday, on the 6th, at the Kiosk on the Boulevard in San Sebastián they will be holding the “Chef for a day” event, where two adults and two children who have won a raffle organised by the Diario Vasco will be cooking alongside Aitor Arregui (Elkano*, Getaria); Dani López (Kokotxa*, San Sebastián); Pablo Loureiro (Casa Urola, San Sebastián), and Rubén Trincado (El Mirador de Ulía*, San Sebastián).


On Sunday the focus shifts to the Kursaal, which will be opening its doors to host Gastronomika Popular, Gastronomika’s open day. This year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary, the  popular day’s events will include cooking shows by two Basque chefs and two from Valladolid, that is, four maestros of bar snacks. From 11:30 to 13:30, one after the other will come out on stage in the Chamber Room at the Kursaal Félix Manso (Felix Manso, Irún), Xabier Zabaleta (Aratz, San Sebastián), Víctor Marín (Trigo*, Valladolid) and Teo Rodríguez (Trasto, Valladolid) to toast to the accomplishments achieved by the pintxo (bar snack), a key factor in the success and popularity of Spanish cuisine.


Street Food is going out for some tapas and pintxos (appetisers and snacks)


Once the presentations are over, the activity will switch to the porches at the Kursaal where Street Food will be opening with complementary proposals. On Sunday, following the thread of the presentations that have been given, Street Food will offer four tapas from restaurants in Valladolid. These will be the pickled chicken jalapeño emulsion by Teo Rodríguez (Trasto); the pork cheek waffle by Jesús Barbado Heras (Suite 22 Restaurant &Gin-Club); the tapa that won the 11th National Pinchos and Tapas Competition in Valladolid 2015; the Taj-Mahal baby lamb by Alfonso García (Don Bacalao), and the homemade tuna jerky salad by Chisco Alonso (La Garrocha). Street Food on Sunday will come to an end at 19:00.


From Monday to Wednesday, the cooking on the porches at the Kursaal changes to commemorate the anniversary with recipes that have marked the resurgence of tradition backed up by the contemporary gastronomic “revolution”. From 12:00 to 20:00, it will be possible to taste cannelloni with truffle cream by Carles Gaig (Gaig, Barcelona), Milky Way croquettes by Nacho Solana (Solana, Ampuero, Cantabria), the Catedral de Navarra Casa Gerardo Bean stew by Marcos Morán (Casa Gerardo, Prendes, Asturias) or Cod in green sauce by Gorka Txapartegui (Alameda, Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa).


Street Food on Sunday and on the days of the congress will cost 4 euros (1 pincho and a drink) or 6 euros (2 pinchos and a drink).


20 years of the San Sebastián Gastronomic Congress


20 years ago a revolution began, and 20 years ago a congress was created that supported and encouraged it. In 1999 the first San Sebastián Gastronomic Congress was held, called “The best of gastronomy”, the first haute cuisine congress to take place on the international scene and one of the most prestigious in the sector. With its innovative format, it evolved and got bigger, and in 2009, as it was firmly established internationally, it changed its name to San Sebastian Gastronomika to reinforce its international focus.