Participants were able to enjoy an intense journey through five continents’ worth of cuisine thanks to the experiences shared y the 20 most important chefs in the world, who shared their knowledge at the First Haute Cuisine Congress.
The culinary connections between Colombia and the world were the axis of the 18 master workshops that culminated today, where national and international chefs provided personalized presentations for cuisine lovers which were complemented with over 30 activities at the multipurpose hall.
And for the people of Bogotá, the local gastronomical show introduced them to the rivers, seas and mountains of the national geography with the offerings of 11 restaurants from Armenia, Buenaventura, Cali, Leticia, La Guajira, Medellín, Mesitas Del Colegio and Pasto, as they shared their top traditional secrets over the four days of BMF.
For the stovetop professionals, Bogotá Madrid Fusión, as the top gastronomical platform in the Americas, also provided special opportunities aimed at strengthening businesses and enabling connections with other players in the sector, including the bus5iness fair, which included 10 companies and brandnames, and the business round, where 418 meetings took place between Colombian producers and service companies that offered food supplies, processed dairy products, and fruits and vegetables, as well as logistics suppliers, with buyers like hotels and restaurants generating business expectations surpassing COP 1.5 billion.
Master Workshops at Bogotá Madrid Fusión’s last day:
This stop-filled journey reached port on Sunday, November the 10th, with a trip that began in the La Guajira desert at the Wayuu Cultural House, with a workshop that concentrated on its wolrdview and ancestry hosted by Jaime Rodríguez and Sebastián Pinzón of Celele restaurant.
Not wanting to be the only protagonists of this immersion into the world of La Guajira, the chefs invited Zayda Cotes, a Wayuu indigenous woman who defines herself as protector of her culture through the kitchen, and who has been one of the main inspirations for this pair of chefs, whose premise is clear: to rescue the customs of the Colombian Caribbean region.
This master of Wayuu techniques says that she forgets everything in the kitchen, and that the desert is a magical cupboard where she finds everything she needs for her hands to create. Chafrana, goat, beans, squash and corn are part of an ample menu of products that mother earth offers her children, and it was this corn from La Guajira that Zayda, Jaime Rodríguez and Sebastian Pinzón used to share secrets born in the sand with workshop participants.
The worldview, a way to see the world and assume its reality, is the backbone of the Wayuu people, who find one of the best outlets for expression in the kitchen, as for them everything has a meaning, especially food, because when they cook, fire is responsible for killing even the most disturbing dreams.
On the last day of international tasting, we reached the western shores of the Cantabrian Sea, where at the tender age of 15, chef Nacho Manzano acquired fish preparation techniques that he offers up in his restaurant Casa Marcial in Asturias, Spain. Getting ready for his workshop, the 2-Michelin star chef visited Bogotá’s market squares looking for fish specimens that he could use to share his wisdom with the participants. As luck would have it, a sunfish from the Colombian rivers ended up in the hands of this star chef.
For Manzano, there are golden rules that must not be broken which are based on knowing how to handle fish, which must always be grabbed by the head or tail, avoiding touching other parts that are fundamental in the preparation and must not lose any more essence that what they’ve already sacrificed since being caught.
Temperature is another pillar. While he prefers not to freeze, he knows that it is not easy to maintain freshness in Bogotá when you are so far away from the ocean, so recommends doing it well. One key: take the blood out of the fish before freezing. And that same temperature, but on the opposite side, is key to the preparation, because when dealing with heat, Nacho recommends always sticking with 65 degrees steam, no matter the size of the product. In that case, if the fish is very large, cooking time is increased, but always at the same 65 degrees.
The fish must be eaten in full as much as possible. That´s it. From head to tail. So the Spanish star concentrated on showing how it is possible to achieve this, using everything including the scales, which are usually hard on the palate. To show it, he took the skin off the fish, including the scales, and in a simple preparation, he put it on the grill, making a sort of grind which he used as a bed to add a tartar sauce attained after simmering the fish’s head, full of collagen and fats, with spices and peas.
“Touch the fish as little as possible” is a motto for Nacho Manzano, specially when the product is in its natural state and in the process of preparation, but when it comes time to eat it, this same motto is inverted, because as he observed, there is no better way to taste the fish than to grab it with your hands and enjoy it.
This same philosophy, based on making the most of each product in the kitchen, is also present with Rolan Tejeda, chef at the Cerdología restaurant in Medellín, who presented a workshop titled From Nose to Tail: Pork Consumption in Colombia. In the meantime, Javier Cárcamo, Sebastián Rivera, Iván and Osman Molina from the OKA Grill House at the Bogotá Hotel Hilton focused on sustainable and proximity food.
The coffee growing region was also present with Julián Hoyos from the El Silo restaurant in Armenia, who described his theory and philosophy based on vision, smell, touch, hearing and taste, as his offer is completely sensory based. On this basis, he explained how to make sausage and bread from this product, and how to transform traditional products into something more contemporary.
Hoyos connects all the ingredients to create new recipes in his kitchen pantheon, from which an infinity of colors emerge resulting in the 30 recipes in his menu, all of which are interconnected, including cilantro ice cream with Macademia meringue.
He prepared corn bread with guava jelly, local and organic products with which he aims to be part of a sustainable cycle that contributes to the environment and the ecosystem.
Hoyos, who also combines his graphic design studies with gastronomy, insists that the human being’s connection with food begins at birth and consolidates when the mother nurses the child. So everything is food, a circle of life.
Jennifer Rodríguez, the Colombian chef that shines from her kitchen nestled in the mountains of Cundinamarca in her restaurant Mestizo in Mesitas del Colegio, presented a workshop titled Bore, a plant she discovered years ago near her municipality which is endowed with great versatility, as well as a high dosis of proteins and carbohydrates, but which must be prepared with care in order to avoid allergies.
Rubén Trincado was also part of the workshops with his presentation of fish maturations and an interesting technique that he employs at his restaurant Seratta in Bogotá, using beeswax on the meats which allows a unique preservation of the flavor that is felt as soon as a chunk reaches the mouth.
Carlos Collado, chef at Le Cordon Bleu Madrid, and his famous marinades came with the goal of closing this magical journey with the union of Colombian and Spanish cuisine through a poaching and food preservation technique that replaces traditional vinegar with an ample range produced by him, all based on fruit like apple and coconut, fermented from animal proteins. So something as traditional as chicha, a fermented corn drink used to prepare chicken, summed up the objective of the Bogotá Madrid Fusión: to become this gastronomical continent for the Americas, where Colombia is at the center of all the cardinal points.