After the final dinner is served at El Bulli on July 30th, the famed Spanish restaurant will close. So sad, sad, sad.
But where one door shuts, another is sure to open.
That new door, what with Ferran’s ‘retirement’ from his legendary kitchen to his new research center, will need to be wide, very wide to accommodate the host of other talented chefs that also call Spain their home.
Known for his edible culinary landscapes, Chef Dacosta is among the chefs favoring the techniques of “la cocina de vanguardia”, the phrase now replacing the much-disliked by all term “molecular gastronomy”. Implementing the skills initially created by Ferran, Chef Dacosta’s dishes include a recreation of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao a la an edible oyster coated with consumable (and oh so beautiful) titanium-silver colored surface. Even Frank Gehry would be impressed by its stunning appearance.
The holder of a total of six, yes six, Michelin stars, this esteemed chef is surprisingly little known outside of Spain, except in Tokyo where she is greatly admired. Her creations are delicate, seasonally driven with an appreciation of the fresh and local while never forgetting the impact of presentation. With such an understanding of aesthetics, is it any wonder that her cuisine is honored by the preceptive diner in both Tokyo and Barcelona?
Among the most fluent speakers of the adopted ‘art-words’ that enables the ‘vanguardia chefs’ to describe their innovative efforts, it should surprise no one that Chef Alija‘s kitchen is located at the remarkable Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
There, like a traditional artist in his/her studio, he combines and creates the new while capturing the essence of the expression (just like Picasso).
A “regresar a las raíces” or “return to the roots” believer, Chef Jubany is an advocate of the farm-to-plate model, believing the value of identifiable terroir. Every ingredient in his kitchen has a known source, all free from commercialization and industrialized production. The resulting cuisine is clear, crisp and full of rediscovered delights, often making regional favorites bright and amazingly new again.
Another “regresar a las raíces” deep roots devotee, Chef Arguinzoniz starts his devotion from the ground up, using not only fresh local ingredients, but also crafting his own flavorful charcoal. Impressive, no?
As a former forest ranger, and though a self-taught chef, no one can question his hallmark grilling expertise. From appetizers to dessert (yes, even his goat milk ice cream brings a smoky flavor to the table), the fiery traditions of the Basque country is always present in his memorable cuisine.
Famous for her focus on seafood, she transforms traditional Spanish dishes honoring both regional recipes and contemporary trends. In a restaurant where only the best is good enough, she is assisted by both her husband as sommelier and her sister, who studied with Paco Torreblanca, as director of pastry.
Relocating from his famed restaurant in Madrid, The Senzone, Chef Morales is one of Spain’s young chefs who successfully blends traditional techniques and innovative changes within his cuisine.
Clarity matters as much as wonder. Flavors should, according to Chef Morales, never be a mystery but equally magic should never leave the dining experience.
With a father who is Catalan and a mother who is French, is it any wonder that by age 13 Chef Pellicer found the crafting of cakes far more interesting than the solving of calculus equations in the classroom.
An international array of apprenticeships soon followed and enabled him to master both traditional and avant-garde techniques.
As a result, his skills have simultaneously impressed both the strongly anti-Ferran Chef Santi Santamaría as well as the most adventurous of diners. Not bad Chef!
Working to insure the blending and growth of all these culinary traditions, old and new, is La Real Academia de Gastronomia or The Royal Academy of Gastronomy founded in August of 2010.
Its stated goal is to disseminate and promote the exciting world of Spanish food and wine, while always honoring both history and innovation in Iberia and beyond.
With the help of such culinary talents as those offered by these amazing new chefs, Spain is sure to continue to delight and amaze us all with flair and flavor!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011