Editor's Note: Today's post recaps Madrid Fusión 2012, an annual food event in Madrid that, according to our friends at Food & Wine, is "part conference, part trade show... where influential chefs demonstrate their latest recipes and techniques on a high-tech stage, in front of an auditorium packed with hundreds of their peers, aspiring cooks and the press." We were lucky to have foodspotter Lauren Heineck cover the event for us...
Descending on Madrid for the 10th consecutive year, internationally acclaimed chefs, culinary professionals, suppliers, artisans, TV personalities and food lovers, congregated last month for Madrid Fusión 2012.
While many of the attending chefs and restaurants from the likes of The Fat Duck, Arzak, El Celler de Can Roca and Quique Dacosta might conjure up images of modernist cuisine, the conference dealt with many of today’s food topics in Spain and beyond, as was suggested by the title “Las puertas del futuro” — the gates of the future.
One such chef was Dani García, the young, Michelin-starred chef from Malaga, Spain who presented his technique of “frying” boquerones - Spanish white anchovies - with liquid nitrogen.
The author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, provided an enthralling presentation and jokingly stated that avant-garde cooking is actually safer and easier than the home cook imagined. “Can you put your hand in hot oil?” he asked as he waved his bare hand through escaping nitrogen gas.
Despite the progressive talk at Madrid Fusión 2012, the event showed participants a more modest approach to current food fascinations and dilemmas. After all, the current “green” movement isn’t new by any means, but it’s certainly something that our favorite restaurants are taking closer to heart, and using their leverage to spread a message of simplicity, locality and taste. For example, vegetables were a popular topic, and here a typical Basque dish of cod fish was reinvented with a sweet onion.
Bacalao al pil pil by Chef Josean Alija of Nerua at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Another advocate of “neo-vegetarianism” and eating local and native species is Rodrigo de la Calle of Aranjuez, Spain who created the postre de patatas aka potato dessert pictured above and demonstrated other uses of the tasty root veggies to satisfy sweet tooths. Additionally, various seaweeds, pine needles and cones, and tree barks were used throughout Madrid Fusión.
The summit closed with a focal point on Central and South America, and the audience sat in a trance of curiosity and unfamiliarity, looking at new fruits, vegetables and proteins.
Piranha by Venezuelan chef Nelson Méndez
Although the abundance of the Amazon River (an estimated 2,000 species) offers much to discover, our guess is that it will be a while before Europeans give up Spanish jamón ibérico for piranhas or tarantulas...
Jamón ibérico @ Madrid Fusión 2012
ABOUT LAUREN HEINECK In August 2009, a young, ambitious and hungry woman left Los Angeles, a corporate advertising gig and everything she had previously known to work on an organic farm in Las Alpujarras, a mountain region of Granada, Spain. Later, she spent some time in Valencia, the home of paella and horchata, and Barcelona where local-cuisine reigns supreme. Today you can follow Lauren's adventures in Madrid and beyond on her blog Sobremesa in Spain.