Throughout his culinary career, Mario Sandoval has undertaken a range of culinary research, what makes of him one of the most representative figures of that new paradigm in which science and cooking work together and enrich each other. Sandoval is the chef at Coque, one of the big restaurant names in Madrid at the moment, but he is also the tireless, inquisitive man who, edition after edition of this congress, has unveiled for us the new paths that were opening up for his cuisine thanks to his curiosity and his collaborations with several universities and scientific institutions.
This year he has done it again, and the outcome is surprising. As he has explained: “we were looking for another way to introduce wine in the kitchen, correcting its rules in order to create fermented dishes richer in nutrients”. And he has done it in collaboration with the winery Viña Pomal, from la Rioja. They have provided for him elements from wine, such as must, tartaric acid from the barrel, dead yeast from cava or lyophilisated lees, all necessary for the new form of cuisine he puts into practise.
And what is it about? As Sandoval himself explained in the Auditorium, “the idea is to cook without fire, starting with the yeast and lees from cava that remain in the barrel, also with the carbonic released by tartaric acid, to use the biochemical processes that are part of fermentation in order to add new flavours”. From this starting point, his work has focused on four specific yeasts, from over eighty tastings, and three varieties of grape: malvasia, white maturana and white grenache.
The possible processes are several. Among them, it’s worth highlighting the technical attention required in order to put the elements from wine, the yeasts and the tartaric acid, in a glass jar, where afterwards food is introduced – chocolate, cheese, fruits … — and placed over gauze or a chinoise. Once the jar is air-tight sealed, the carbonic is released as an effect of the yeasts, as happens in the elaboration of wine, and so starts the boiling process of the food, which at the same time aromatises it with notes of lees (pastries, butter).
The results can be observed in his Peking duck. We’ve seen in its garnishes the endless possibilities of this new technique: the first of them has been an instant duck capuccino – on a base of coffee with carbonic, duck juice and tartaric acid; the second, a fruit sponge cooked at low temperature – with a blast chiller – to stop the the souffle produced by the tartaric acid that has been added to an apricot and yeast purée; the third one, wafers with yeast lees: a thin biscuit like sacramental bread with the flavour of the lees incorporated on oblaat.