Josep Pitu Roca opened the afternoon session at Saborea España talking about the role of waiter as an opportunity for personal development in parallel to progress in the dining-room. There is a whole, fascinating world to be discovered. Waiters have to learn to go a step further, beyond service, participating in the choice and design of the kitchenware used, the furnishings created to carry and express ideas – desserts, tea, coffee, etc; they should also be involved in marriages, in the broad sense given to them at Celler de Can Roca; in the creation of liqueurs; in what is going on. Service, intention, gesture. That is where the mystery lies. In the world of emotions and not in the physical world alone. During his talk, he praised the work of waiters, and the intangibles that go beyond the everyday. That is the way they grow professionally. Their work in I+E – Emotional Intelligence – is enormously inspiring. Emotions that gradually take shape during the afternooon sessions.
Hispanist and historian Vicky Hayward (Spanish National Gastronomy Award 2017) came to Saborea España, together with chef Kiko Moya, to talk about the book “Nuevo arte de la cocina española” written by Juan de Altamiras in the 18th century, which she has recovered and revised. This recipe book is a living history of cuisine, “the first book of democratic cuisine in the world”, according to the author, “because it gives us the recipes of the poorer classes, not those of the Court”. In the auditorium, Moya recreated a number of dishes inspired by the original recipes in the book, but updated in his kitchen. For example, a precursor of surf and turf: partridge with sardine, which Moya recreates as Partridge in garum sauce. This was an exciting exercise in resuscitating words from the past that give rise to extraordinarily modern dishes.
Then Rodrigo de la Calle retraced the techniques he has developed to date in his restaurant. This was a way of re-thinking his career now that, after becoming the icon of vegetable cooking in Spain, he has settled into his new restaurant El Invernadero. In central Madrid. With his first Michelin star. The list is long: Gastrobotánica, #green revolution, hot fermentations, his trip to China in 2014, pickles, superfoods. His new find, based on garum but made from plants, is called algarum. And, by way of example, a dish of asparagus lettuce, sweet celery, demi-glace of stewed vegetables, green beans, vegetable sprouts and powdered truffle oil. Its name: salad of beans.
Victor Bossecker and Arminda García then presented Finca de Uga and the Isla de Lobos restaurant where Bossecker produces proximity cuisine that is unusual because of its umbilical cord with the spectacular Finca de Uga. Arminda García runs the estate – fourteen hectares in which four hundred varieties of vegetable are grown organically, cattle and poultry are bred, cheeses are made and they have even developed a local breed of pig, a cross between the black Canary and the Iberico. In the words of Bossecker, it is like “Disneyland” for chefs. And, above all, it offers a great culinary experience for visitors who, one Saturday a month, Kilometre 0 Day – can collect the products that Victor will cook for them in the evening.
To close, Dani Carnero, who since 2010 has been at the head of the La Cosmopolita restaurant in Malaga, appeared on the stage in the company of Rafa Peña, chef and owner, since 2006, of Gresca in Barcelona. Both are experts and well-known names in bar cuisine, “where diners face the chef, eye to eye, where they are free to assemble their own menú”. Both are starting out in new directions this year. Dani is to open the gastronomic Kaleja, and Peña has already opened his Torpedo, a bar that is much more informal than the current one. They both spoke about the value of immediacy at the bar, of the proximity and values it provides, of the direct contact offered.