San Sebastián Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country closes its 19th Edition with 40 presentations on reflections and products and 20% more international congress delegates.

India, with the largest delegation of chefs to date, showed us the guidelines of its millennium cuisine, demonstrating what to do with spices and the theory of six flavours.

“Indian cuisine is unfathomable, but all of us here today know more about it now than we did four days ago. We have learned how to use spices, about ancestral techniques and the avant-garde cuisine from far away”. Ivan Surinder was the ambassador of the Indian delegation, gastronomically the largest to date, and represented the barometer of its scope. “Thomas Zacharias and Saurabh Udinia demonstrated that there is modern Indian cuisine and all of them together have shown us nuances (eating with your hands, sharing in the centre, the precise use of spices…) that help”. This Spanish chef of Indian origin with a restaurant in Barcelona (Tandoor) is the best example of the Asian country’s cuisine that has come here to stay. Staying by marking his identity, as did the thirty Spanish chefs who took to the stage. Territory was one of the most used words by everyone, which showed us global cuisine with genuine roots. A return to old favourite recipes, cooking using the environment and tasting it. Marking their identity. Indian, Mediterranean or Cantabrian. San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country is a meeting point and springboard. Cuisine does the talking.

This year it did so through 40 presentations with more than 60 chefs and restaurant professionals. And by means of the 160 companies that took part in the Market, who also talked and showed us products and gastronomy. And with a schedule of activities in the Off section that revalued the dining room, promoting wine (with a tasting and the “La Flèche d´Or” champagne competition) and lauding Loius Villeneuve with the Gueridón de Oro Award. And with an Indian Street Food section that served six thousand tastings. The six flavours of food (sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter and astringent) “needed to make a dish leave a taste in your mouth, stomach and mind”, according to the veteran Indian representative, Manjit S. Gill, which its delegation promoted, were popular with the congress delegates, which this year had 20% more international representatives.

New gastronomic talents

The last day of Gastronomika started with rock & roll. The young Canarian chef Safe Cruz (Gofio by Cicero Canary, Madrid), the “Chef to Follow” of the congress, promoted origins and talked about products and recipe books. “When I don’t have a (Canarian) product, I draw from a recipe book. When I do, I’m flying”. Flying and being influenced, learning and incorporating benefits is a world trend and objective of the congress, trends that Cruz continues to warn about: “With so many influences, we need to look to revive our recipes and products”. They are complementary concepts, as the four chefs that followed him to talk about territory know.

Four products, four points of the compass

José Antonio Rivera (Chef Rivera, Padrón, La Coruña) exalted the lamprey, a “fish that should be very thoroughly cleaned so that it retains its flavour”; Fran López (Villa Retiro, Xerta, Tarragona) brought the Ebro Delta to San Sebastián with a recipe for “caixeta” and king prawn consommé; Diego Gallegos (Sollo, Fuengirola, Málaga) made a defence of river and reservoir fish, “without the promotion of which, we would lose a lot of spices”, with a recipe for organic sturgeon and Roberto Ruiz (El Frontón, Tolosa, Gipuzkoa) demonstrated his unconditional love for beans from Tolosa, “which does not become a legume until it is dried”, the only bean “that produces a creamy broth naturally”. Four products and four regions, the wealth of a gourmet country, with all kinds of restaurants, including specialists, like Gofio, “a differentiating, qualitative factor for many of us”, said Ruiz.

The most gourmet Cantabrian

It is not pure specialisation but a demonstration of orographic principles. Hilario Arbelaitz (Zuberoa, Oiartzun, Gipuzkoa) and Nacho Manzano (Casa Marcial, Arriondas, Asturias) cooked dishes from their territory. The member of the Technical Committee of the congress reiterated how his cuisine is characterised by “strong bases, with lots of flavour” and gave up centre stage to his brother Joxe Mari, “the future of Zuberoa, although I have the reins for a while…”. For his part, Manzano, like Gallegos, defended river products (“everyone likes food from the sea”) and he cooked tuna belly with sardine skin and cream of anchovy, “three iconic Cantabrian products”, highlighting tuna as “steak of the sea”.

El Ermitaño, Mina and Camarena

Another star product of Spanish cuisine: suckling lamb, praised this time by Pedro Mario and Oscar Pérez (El Ermitaño, Benavente), and lots of others which are eminently local prepared by Álvaro Garrido (Mina, Bilbao). The Basque chef cooked some of his new offerings, all with bases and ideas, like those prepared of pastrami of smoked red tuna belly with herb curry and preserved lemon or stewed Swiss chard on txakoli lees. More products, in this case anchovy brine, which is rich in natural monosodium glutinate, which Ricard Camarena (Ricard Camarena, Valencia) used as a substitute for salt. The Valencian also demonstrated his skills through a squid consommé and chamomile, stuffed courgette flowers and parsley.

“Indian cuisine is not spicy”

Two chefs with Michelin-starred restaurants in London rounded off India’s presence at Gastronomika, talking about spices and curry, closing the circle opened by their colleagues, clearing up queries and opening up new questions. Sriram Aylur (Quilon) went over the uses and flavours of different chillies, pointing out that their spiciness “can be distinguished by their light and dark colours”, and Vineet Bhatia (Vineet Bhatia) reminded us that “our cuisine is not spicy. Everyone adds the spiciness that they want”. Myths and multiple realities. Interpretations that are based on a common logic: the use of spice in the kitchen, in a thousand ways.

Generosity has been one of the leitmotifs of the congress. Berasategui lauded a young chef, Albert Adrià handed the stage over to his chefs for the elBarri presentation and Pepe Solla (Casa Solla, San Salvador de Poio, Pontevedra) presented Suso, his partner for many years who is leaving the restaurant to start up his own project after cooking a dish from his region: scallop pie and scallop aguachile with passion fruit. From north to south, Dani García (Dani García, Marbella) also promoted his land with “dishes with two flavours”. Especially with the turtle-dove and foie-gras with its consommé, “a seasonal dish where the turtle-dove provides the strong flavour and the foie gras softens it”.

Colagreco gave us something to think about

Mauro Colagreco closed the congress. The chef of Mirazur (Menton, France), the fourth best restaurant in the world according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants returned to Gastronomika after five years to challenge values. “What is rich and what is poor?” The Argentine broke down mental and conceptual borders through dishes with two ingredients, where the star was “what we commonly think of as being poor”. One of carpaccio of beetroot and caviar, where the beetroot was grown by the chef himself and the caviar only appeared in a cream form, and the other textures of corn and white truffle, done in the same way. Mental reflections bound with Indian knowledge. Time to think and study at home. Homework from Gastronomika.

Wild plants and meat farmers

One of the presentations in the auditorium did not have chefs as guests. It featured Joxe Mari Aizega y Diego Prado, director and lecturer from the Basque Culinary Center respectively, who took to the stage to present “Manual de Plantas Silvestres con valor Gastronómico de España peninsular” (Manual of Wild Plants with a Gastronomic Value in the Spanish Peninsular), an academic book “that will equip cooking professionals with great botanical knowledge, with more than 330 references” and that will be on sale early next year. The day at the Kursaal also included the celebration of the 8th National Grilling Competition, where Joseba Mirena Odriozola from the restaurant Araneta Erretegia (Zestoa, Gipuzkoa), won in a hall full of people and flavour. The category of best meat supplier was won by Cárnicas Goya, from Anoeta (Gipuzkoa). Gastronomika for Teenagers saw brave young Gipuzkoans have the chance to cook with some of the great chefs, such as Inaxio Muguruza, Ramón Roteta and Ivan Surinder, starting with Indian culinary flavours.

Four days of international gastronomy

Curry, spices and territory. Identity and products from here and there which, over the four days, focused gastronomic interest. India showed all of its splendour at Gastronomika through 14 chefs, who analysed their culinary multifacetedness. They left us with ideas and methods to be implemented, from their gastronomic and spiritual base in the why represented by the president of the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations Manjit S. Gill, to the most advanced face of India, in the mouth and hands of Gaggan Anand, chef of the best restaurant in Asia according to The 50 Best Restaurants.

In addition to having an Indian bent, Gastronomika 17 once again showed itself to be the reference point of the homeland’s haute cuisine. Basque masters played host to a thirty or so of the leading Spanish chefs, who demonstrated innovations, history and techniques. Joan Roca, Carme Ruscalleda, Ricard Camarena, Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch, Dani García, Pepe Solla and Jesús Sánchez shared know-how on the stage and life after it. They could be seen eating like congress delegates, attending and directing activities and creating a meting point once more. There were old and new generations of Spanish chefs, the latter strengthened in presence and singled out by Martín Beresategui (in his presentation he presented Julián Mármol, from the restaurant Yugo the Bunker in Madrid, “an chef who surprised me”) and by the congress itself, with the Chef to Follow section and the inaugural dinner held on Sunday in the San Telmo Museum under the auspices of seven young chefs (Toni Romero, 4amb5 by Suculent, Barcelona; Nagore Irazuegi, Arima, Madrid; Jesús Moral, Taberna de Miguel, Bailén; Omar Malpartida, Tiradito, Barcelona; María José Martínez, Lienzo, Valencia; Lucía Freitas, A Tafona, Santiago de Compostela; Óscar García, Baluarte, Soria, and Safe Cruz, Gofio by Cicero Canary, Madrid. Even Pedro Subijana directly appealed to them to offer work at Akelarre.

Figures for San Sebastian Gastronomika 2017

  • 1,567 congress delegates
  • Participating nationalities: 37
  • Exhibitors: 160
  • People working: 410
  • Visitors to the fair: 13,252
  • Accredited journalists: 412
  • Presence of schools and training: 600 students
  • 9,500 tweets.
  • 5 million reach on Twitter
  • 12,600 videos watched on Facebook
  • 146,500 impressions on Instagram