January 15, 2020

The Cabaña Buenavista chef presented two new culinary applications: silk as a foodstuff and creation of a solid paper electrospun by a machine with positive and negative poles. “Two ground-breaking inventions”, enthused Xabier Gutiérrez, Arzak’s head of innovation.

Chef Pablo González Conejero (Cabaña Buenavista**, El Palmar, Murcia) presented “two new culinary applications” at Madrid Fusión, the result of Cabaña’s work alongside the Murcia Agrarian Research and Development Institute (IMIDA). The project introduces the possibility of eating silk, and creation of a solid texture by electrospinning liquid products. Murcia, Spain’s Gastronomy Capital 2020, projected its voice through the best possible PA system. Xabier Gutiérrez, Arzak’s head of R+D, lent his support on stage.

“We will be able to eat silk through silk worms”, González began. He and his team succeeded in extracting liquid silk – with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and the power to prevent diabetes and senile dementia – which they added to liquidised fruit – “beetroot, in this case” – and it crystallised after it had been left to dry for 24 hours at room temperature. “At the moment it’s in a crystallised format, but if we halt the process and it doesn’t actually reach the crunchy stage, we can make ravioli and a thousand other products besides”, claimed the Murcia chef.

Silk into threads. Conejero has come up with another piece of innovation. He and the IMIDA discovered the culinary electrospinning application, a machine with two poles (positive and negative), operating at 20,000 watts, which transforms liquid into a solid format by creating microthreads. The chef used vermouth concentrate in the experiment, and the power of the poles induced it to “weave” a paste “which could create an entire sheet. We haven’t enough speed yet to make the paste quickly, but we’ll get there”.

Gutiérrez, acting as guinea pig, stepped up to comment: “You’ve discovered something a chef achieves only once or never achieves in a lifetime. Congratulations. And it has a strong flavour, too, released when it makes contact with the mouth and breaks. It’s the texture of silk”, he enthused. The electrospinning technique was tested on chicken stocks, with the same outcome. “Also, the machine removes the fat from the stocks on its own”, it was explained.

To show examples of how it could be used, the Cabaña team prepared a vermouth sauce with the vermouth concentrate’s electrospun paper, and a version of Madrid tripe on paper, accompanied by the components of a plate of lyophilised tripe. “For the moment, the idea behind electrospinning is for the product to be used on dishes with the same flavour. Beyond that, we don’t know”. “The scope is limitless”, Gutiérrez was heard to say. Chef’s honour.