With the presentation of the Gueridón de Oro Award to head waiter Louis Villeneuve and a stellar presentation by Javier de las Muelas, Ferran Centelles and Josep Roca, the congress in San Sebastian highlighted the importance of “taking care of the little details” in a restaurant.

Joan Roca, José Avillez and Pedro Subijana summarised the current state of Iberian haute cuisine and Srijith Gopinathan and Thomas Zacharias did the same from an Indian perspective. Gastronomika now knows about traditional and avant-garde India.

Thirteen presentations and a range of techniques and products from here and there. San Sebastian Gastronomika–Euskadi Basque Country 2017 closed its second professional day with a presentation by Pedro Subijana on terroir, a concept that played out throughout the day between accents and origins. Inland Girona, the Portuguese coast and most cosmopolitan India; risotto, coriander, Portuguese stew and hitherto unknown Indian vegetables. Combinations of flavours and concepts that were provided, among others, by Joan Roca, José Avillez, Jesús Sánchez, four highly acclaimed Indian chefs and Toño Pérez, who surprised the audience by celebrating the 30th anniversary of Atrio with one of the world’s finest wines. But it was wine and the dining room that starred through the unparalleled colloquium “Serving. The supreme art” with Javier de las Muelas, Josep Roca and Ferran Centelles, and the “La Flèche d´Or” champagne contest, hosted by Spain for the first time. Head waiter Louis Villeneuve received the Gueridón de Oro. While all this was going on, a full Market was discovering products and drawing in people, the soul of a gastronomic congress.

Respect, tradition and consistency

East, west and east. The morning performance at Gastronomika featured two Catalans and a Portuguese chef who defended the land to talk to the world. Fina Puigdevall (Les Cols, Olot, Gerona) started off by presenting her team of producers and farmers, “the same people who may appear to serve your meal”. Among other things, Puigdevall prepared a dish made of vegetables from her garden, herbs and flowers under a veil of buckwheat and reminded us why there are no fish from the sea on her menu. “There is no sea in Olot. It would be illogical”. The Portuguese chef José Avillez (Belcanto**, Lisbon), returning to San Sebastian after his visit in 2015, took over and presented his new modern Portuguese cuisine inspired by tradition. “We use a lot of coriander, a Muslim legacy, white rice as a side dish, of Asian origin, and pork and Iberian products, a passion we share with Spain”. He prepared two versions of the typical Cozido à portuguesa (Portuguese stew) to be eaten in three tablespoons, “dishes where we play with technique to find the origin, which in this case is cabbage”.

Turbot skin roll by Joan Roca

Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, Girona) demonstrated the richness of his travels in new creations, including a nod to the Basque Country, to which he dedicated a roll using the skin of turbot accompanied by a jus from their grilled heads and bones. Roca did his presentation following a sequence, like he did for his other creations. “We guide the diner about how to eat the dish to enhance the flavours that we want to convey”. The chef from Girona finished his presentation by talking about a project for recycling the plastic bags used for vacuum cooking, a sustainable trend that has been lauded at the congress.

The art of serving and the best champagnes in the world

“The most important head waiter in the world for the past 50 years” received the 9th Gueridón de Oro Award. Josep Roca presented the award, which Gastronomika dedicates to the world of serving and wine, to Louis Villeneuve (Hotel de Ville, Lausanne, Switzerland), who was also praised by the President of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy, Rafael Ansón: “Villeneuve has made customers happy for many years”. The happiness of customers was also recognised in the colloquium “Serving, The supreme art”, where Javier de las Muelas, Josep Roca and Ferran Centelles highlighted the underestimated importance of the dining room in a restaurant (“and the stories of love and friendship forged in them”), detailing how “to take care of the little details to complete the experience”. In their own way, the three honoured the “great revolutionary” of the dining room in Spain: Juli Soler. The dining room presided over the day.

Although it was part of the Wine Sessions section, the activity that Gastronomika, and Spain, was hosting for the first time is also part of the dining room. The competition for sparkling wine only made in the French region of Champagne, “La Flèche d´Or”, brought together 20 wines of excellence at the Kursaal, that a jury consisting of sommeliers (among them, Dani Corman, Champagne Ambassador 2010, and Jordi Melendo, 2011 Ambassador and creator of the only champagne guide in Spanish) scored the wines to elect a champion. This year it was Bollinger Rosé 2005 Brut, followed by Lallier 2002 Brut and Lallier 2008 Grand Cru Brut in the Millésime category (grapes of the same year), and Teer Philippe Gonet, Bernard Remy Brut and Belin Rosé in the non-Millésime category (wines of different vintages). Bollinger Rosé 2005 Brut won the special award from the jury.

Avant-garde India

On Monday, the more traditional India spoke, cuisine embraces ancestral techniques and, on Tuesday, it was the turn of the latest version. Four noteworthy Indian chefs showed off trends and techniques, without leaving aside customs. Saurabh Udinia (Masala Library, Delhi) emphasised the benefits of cooking with your hands, getting “the flavours of the spices to penetrate food better” in this way, as Anand reminded us and demonstrated yesterday. Thomas Zacharias (Bombay Canteen, Bombay) recognised the countless recipes and products to which his country is home, “many of which we don’t yet even know”. Among the most important products, he highlighted moras bhaji, “a special vegetable with a salty taste to watch out for”. For his part, Manish Mehrotra (Indian Accent, Delhi) and the two Michelin starred Srijith Gopinathan (Srijith Gopinathan, Campton Place), whose restaurant is in San Francisco, completed the session, with the latter showing us the most refined version of Californian and Indian fusion cuisine through a lobster with curry from the coast and coriander.

Territory, proposals and surprises

In the afternoon, Nandu Jubany (Can Jubany, Calldetenes, Barcelona) returned to territory, inland Catalonia in this case, cooking a cap i pota of sea cucumber with green beans, where the sea cucumbers were crunchy and overdone “to enhance their fleshy part”. David Andrés, the deputy to Jordi Cruz at ABaC (Barcelona), opened eyes at the last universal gastronomy with useful tricks and explanations: tuna rice with pecorino romano to achieve a risotto effect, dried fruit cooked for a long time to change their texture and chopped squid to improve the texture of the squid, so Jesús Sánchez (Cenador de Amós, Villaverde Pontones, Cantabria) returned to his homeland to embrace Cantabria in three dishes. Anchovy, stew and grilled sardines, finished off in the dining room “so that the aroma of typical grills from our shores enters the dining room”. Toño Pérez (Atrio, Caceres) celebrated the 30th anniversary of his restaurant with all of the congress delegates by uncorking two magnificent bottles of Château d’Yquem 1994, valued at € 15,000. In an emotional presentation, he also wanted to pay tribute to the theme of the congress through a robust tomato soup with cumin and curry, “a dish from Extremadura-India”.

Pedro Subijana (Akelarre, San Sebastián) closed the presentations with a job offer. “Félix Echave is retiring, so I am looking for a new chef. Anyone interested please contact the restaurant”. It’s true. Echave has spent 43 years with Pedro. “We are a family”. Subijana also defended sardines and Basque products with an “euskaldun” (Basque) pickled sardine recipe, a ceviche, not with coriander and lime but with garlic and parsley.

Hotel and Catering Day and gastronomy in various formats

On Tuesday, the documentary “El Origen” (The Origin) was presented, created by Jorge Martínez (a tribute to the work of the sommelier through a tour of the wine region of Jumilla by celebrities from the world of wine) and André Magalhães ) Taberna da Rua das Flores, Lisbon) looked at traditional Portuguese “petiscos” (tapas) seen from a contemporary perspective. In addition, the gourmet Miquel Brossa and chef Francis Paniego (Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja) held a Private Kitchen focusing on offal, with the former analysing the virtues of viscera, as reflected in his book “Canaille”, and the latter cooking them and demonstrating their strengths.

Makro celebrated Hotel and Catering Day with a pop-up in the Street Food section of Gastronomika, sharing a tapa of crispy Padum, donostiarra-style crab and Tandoori vinaigrette – as prepared by Ivan Surinder and Iñigo Lavado. Other chefs, such as Ángel León, Mario Sandoval, Rodrigo de la Calle and Susi Díaz, also took part in the initiative and the event. In the Makro Classroom, other leading lights of Spanish cuisine (Custodio Zamarra, Jesus Almagro…) put on cooking shows and demonstrations of products and techniques.

Tomorrow, last day of Gastronomika 17

Spain, from north to south and east to west. Gastronomika 17 is reaching its final day full of energy and will present a programme ready for the journey home. We have eaten and learned, but there is still a hunger and intellect to round off, and what better way than do so in the company of Hilario Arbelaitz, Nacho Manzano, Pedro Mario y Óscar Pérez, Álvaro Garrido, Ricard Camarena, Pepe Solla and Dani García. All of them will talk about differences, presenting realities by latitudes, which will complete the group presentation and new “Terroir Chefs” section. In this section, Spain will discuss products and methods through the mouth and hands of four chefs, who will cook dishes representing their region at the same time on the stage – Coruña, Tarragona, Málaga and Gipuzkoa.

The day will also feature presentations by the last two Indian chefs (Sriram Aylur and Vineet Bhatia) to finish off spicing up Gastronomika, and one by Mauro Colagreco, chef of the fourth best restaurant in the world, Mirazur, which will close this year’s event. Before that, we will get to know Safe Cruz better, the “Chef to Follow”, and find out who will be the winner of the 8th National Grilling Competition. Then, as always, we will celebrate the triumph of gastronomy, the triumph of sharing.