Ángel León invents the water menu

Doménico Chiappe


The Aponiente chef turns the sea into ice and the "sea breeze" into edible bubbles, and presents his latest invention: machines that create new textures for the kitchen

This season, the chef at Aponiente***, Ángel León, has decided to make his customers eat water with a revolutionary new menu. "Water can be the most important ingredient in a meal. When I suggested to my team that water could be an item on the menu, it caused a lot of conflict", recalls León in the packed auditorium of Madrid's Fusión Alimentos de España. "Without water, there would be nothing”.

The chef from Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz), explains that the water menu is divided into two parts. The first is called "The states of water". "This year we are going to turn seawater into ice. We will freeze it to one degree and immerse an oyster to the same degree. It has the effect of freezing any product. It's sensational. The second dish of this first phase fulfills a "dream" of the chef. "Why can't we eat the sea breeze? This year it will be eaten", he announces. "With a bubble of plankton smoke. It is also sensational and serves to talk about the breeze". The third dish is presented as "The sea is life", and uses seaweed as a vegetable.

For the second part of the water menu, Ángel León unveils two machines that he brought with him to the presentation. "We have been looking for ways to change the texture of water for years," he says. "We discovered a machine used in India. A rotor filled with ice, on which you put soup and people scrape it off. We also developed another machine with people from China, based on one that is used on the street to make syrup and frozen things. We're taking it into the savoury world, just as elBulli did in its most glorious period, when it was inspired by the sweet world".

On stage, the machine starts working with a previously emulsified "cuttlefish milk". A thin but not fragile film emerges from its outlet, a "sheet", as León calls it. "It is very difficult to achieve such an elegant texture, which we had never thought of". This flavour is placed on a "beautiful plate", describes the chef, "a kind of thousand leaves".

The second machine invented at Aponiente produces another type of surface, which they call "angel hair". "It's crazy to get a texture like that", exclaims León. "You can do a thousand things with it in the kitchen. With the filaments that emerge, a new dish is created: plankton noodles. Another function is to turn the "Water of Navarre" into a powder that can be used to make a seafood soup.

"These are three totally unexpected textures in the kitchen", says León of the utensils he has christened Fantasy Ice. "Angel hair, silky leaves, and powder. As a chef, this machine gives me the opportunity to do things with water that can attract the attention of our customers. We want to look for different sensations”.






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