San Sebastián Gastronomika

The San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Saboréala congress was held from the 20th to the 23rd of November at the Kursaal Conference center in the Gipuzkoan capital.

My entrance card!

It was my second year in a fox coming to this event, every year features a region; last year was the united States with the likes of Wylie Defresne, Anthony Bourdain, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller present but this year, the conference featured the best of Brasil, Peru and Mexico.

This is a chance for these countries to exhibit new colors and new cuisine with the likes of Alex Atala (D.O.M; San Pellegrino’s 7th Best in the World) and Helena Rizzo (Mani). These 30 to 45 minute cooking demonstrations that make up the bulk of the main program are, essentially, a glorified recipe exchange cum friendly coffee chat. Yes, that’s Alex Atala in front of you, picking at a candied pumpkin. But he’s just spouting off a recipe for you, then giving you a chapa (an earful) of what he thinks about the perfect ingredient. Then some pristinely pressed kids in their school chef whites bring you out a little spoonful he made just for you.

Helenz Rizzo (Mani)

Alex Atala (D.O.M)

Though you will not see the best of the United States, the list of famous chefs this year is undisputed. Among the list of participants and exhibitionists are some of the best Basque (and the world’s) chefs including Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak, 3* Michelin), Hilario Arbelaitz (Zuberoa; 2* Michelin), Martin Berasategui (Martin Berasategui 3* Michelin), Eneko Atxa (Azurmendi, 2* Michelin), Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugartiz, 2* Michelin), Pedro Subijana (Akelarre, 3* Michelin). Other chefs of stature included Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, 3* Michelin), Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, 3* Michelin), among others..

The latest edition of San Sebastián Gastronomika is now divided into sections: the ALTA congress, where international representatives from the haute cuisine sector will share opinions on the latest culinary trends and experiences from their own establishments.
OFF Gastronomika, which focuses on dining and wine. Some of the free treats we had.
Free drinks too…Olive oil mixer
From Josper, the grill master…
The best of grilled food…
Chicken wings
Bacalao (codfish)
Risotto with squid
From Joselito, serving and selling the best jamon in the world…
Your standard fare when you enter the stand..
But once you make a connection, you get to taste beautifully melting in your mouth pancetta as well as 4 and 8 year old jam on. Wow…
Other free tastings…
There’s also Espacio Marketing, a dedicated exhibition space for businesses to forge trade links, which includes a reserved area to showcase some of the very best Spanish wines.
Exclusive products from Mugaritz by Solar Graells
The competitor, Sosa
Microcress, plants, flowers and herbs…
Japanese stand..
Black garlic
As well as hosting talks and tastings, San Sebastian Gastronomika hosted the Official Best Spanish Sommelier Competition 2011 in which the winners from the competitions held in every Spanish province will compete in an event where they will have to face challenges such as identifying products in blind tastings, carrying out guided tastings, or detecting errors on a menu. There was also a “Jordi Estadella” Gin and Tonic Championship which I absolutely loved.
San Sebastian Gastronomika – Basque Country Savour has been committed to innovation from the very first year. In 2011 they are taking things a step further and after the success of last year, focussing strongly on offering tastings during the sessions. This is a unique format not offered by similar events around the world, which will allow those attending to taste, in real time, the creations that the chefs are demonstrating in the Palacio Kursaal Auditorium.

45 of the chefs taking part in Alta Gastronomika offered a total of 14,000 tastings over the three days of this professional event as a result of which the Auditorium will be turned into the largest restaurant in the world, with a live food service to include the great dishes of 2011.   Examples included :

Joan Roca, Celler de Can Roca Restaurant (Girona) – Truffle Brioche

Andoni Luis Aduriz, Mugaritz (Errenteria)- Kuzu, Properties and Several Textures

Pedro Subijana, Akelarre Restaurant (San Sebastian) – Edible Papers

Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, Arzak Restaurant (San Sebastian) – Grilled lemons

Martin Berasategui, Berasategui Restaurant (Lasarte) – Wild salmon with liquid cucumber and chives with red fruits and radishes

Carme Ruscalleda and Raül Balam, Sant Pau Restaurant (Sant Pol de Mar) and Moments Restaurant (Barcelona) – Spiced, seasoned shortbread

It was a great event..the pictures were just a little inside scoop of what went down in 3 days. Awesome event, awesome weekend. Can’t wait for the next year!
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