We cannot begin this report of the day without taking a moment to reflect on what we have seen in the Auditorium. Seldom has there been such an extraordinary concentration of female chefs and gastronomy professionals on a single day of this congress. And they are all examples of female excellence whose voice has been heard loud and clear this Wednesday morning at Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión 2019. Cookery is being redefined. They are changing the rules. And one of the new rules is, without doubt, that the male monopoly in haute cuisine is already history.
That said, the third day began with an exhibition of culinary skill from Taiwan provided by the chef Richie Lin – separate report – and continued with a second exceptional presentation: that of Single Thread, the most authentic of California’s gastro hotels.
Located in San Francisco and managed by Kyle and Katina Connaughton, the hotel offers its guests a complete experience that starts with the farm and moves to the accommodation by way of the food. Theirs is a Japanese-inspired naturalist American cuisine, with great attention paid to every last detail of the service. Kyle worked with Michel Bras at his restaurant in Hokkaido and directed Heston Blumenthal’s culinary laboratory. Katina manages the organic farm from which they get their supplies. Both are looking to create memories. Their work, which is seasonal, revolves around the farm, the gardens, the time they make to stop and talk to their guests. The entire project is strictly organic and sustainable and the most radical authenticity is found in each and every detail: in the flowers, the craftsmanship of the furnishings, the extras. Theirs is a new way of understanding the commitment to nature as luxury.
The morning session continued with the Slovenian Ana Ros – separate report – and Juan Parés’ presentation on the fight against the tidal wave of plastic – separate report – before we heard from the Mallorcan chef Maca de Castro, probably the most sensitive, refined and distinctive of all the chefs of the moment.
Her cooking feels and wants to be personal, using the Mallorcan produce as a compass, her own vegetable garden, daily contact with farmers, extensive research into the local cuisine and talent. Her cooking is as unique as the products she uses, all obtained from direct contact with the producers, which results in products such as a mare’s milk cheese made from the milk of six of the forty native mares left in Mallorca. This cheese is the spark for the dish that she presented: a carbonara with duck yolks flavoured with St. John’s wort, cured tuna belly and spaghetti made from seasoned strands of fresh pumpkin. Radically local.
The day continued with another exceptional female chef: Dominique Crenn, a French chef of Moroccan descent living in San Francisco. There, without previous culinary training, she worked in different kitchens of increasing prestige until opening Atelier Crenn in 2011. Five years later, in 2016, with her cooking in constant evolution, telling stories and seeking to reconnect the diner with nature, she was named the best female chef in the world by 50Best. And today, alongside her, Juan Contreras, her partner, her sweet alter ego, with whom she has been working for 13 years.
The pair present us with a succession of dishes that highlight their culinary philosophy which has its basis in the ocean, which they have beside them, in the organic vegetable garden they cultivate, but also in produce such as honey, which highlights their concern for and work to preserve the endangered species of the bee, essential for the balance of natural ecosystems. Local awareness and global responsibility. Desserts in which honey, beeswax and pollen tell us new stories. Crenn is all this, and much more.
Andoni Adúriz concluded the morning session, appearing on stage wearing a straitjacket! A novel way of getting the audience’s attention in order to introduce the new glossary he has outlined for Mugaritz’s kitchen. A collection of words which in his cooking take on meanings which are by no means obvious. This is because they are not really words: they are his vanishing points. Andoni understands “vanishing” as a starting point: what is there inside the borders of a dish? Doors. Each of the examples presented was a brilliant demonstration of the unusual world in which his cooking resides.