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Adam Chef

Madrid Fusion 2010

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It’s that time of year again that we all wait 12 months for in anticipation for what we we can expect to see. Madrid Fusion is now 1 day into it and the program is sure to have something for everyone!

The first day saw many conferences from a wide variety of Chefs including David Munoz (New 1 Star Michelin Chef and friend of mine from Diverxo Madrid), Ferran Adria (El Bulli, Rosas), Mark Best (Marque, Sydney), Grant Achatz (Alinea, Chicago), Joan Roca (El Cellar de Can Roca), a Jam session by a group of 4 Danish progressive Chefs, + many more………………………………

There is not much to say about David Munoz, he is a great Chef with an amazing future ahead of him! Already his new restaurant is booked out up to 3 months in advance, for good reason as I have never heard of anyone having a bad experience which is rare in this industry!

Ferran did a very good presentation of a lot of his cocktail techniques, but the announcement that stole the show is that El Bulli is closing for 2 years in 2012 and 2013! This is so Ferran can refocus and regroup the concepts of El Bulli and open in 2014 with some strong new concepts. Stay tuned to see how this announcement effects the food world and what the ripple effects will be!

Ferran also prepared an amazing video about Autumn. In a 10-15 minute display the directors really captured what Autumn is really about and very graphically transported you there through sound triggers and visual displays. This was matched with the food associated with Autumn in it’s raw form and then it’s El Bulli progressive form! Very impressive!

Mark Best and Pasi from Australia presented a great display of what is Australian food! Mark Best is one of the greats from Australia and a true ambassador of our country, his food is pure and honest without anything that doesn’t need to be and nothing without a purpose. Mark and Pasi presented 2 great dishes, the first being and Abalone and mushrooms dish with a salad of seaweed and the second dish was Smoked chicken ovum and Oysters. Both of which looked and I am sure tasted stunning!

Grant Achatz chose to do an interview style conference where he did not cook, he was interviewed instead by an American food journalist who made it a Q&A session. I found it a little too similar to last year with no real material that showed his progression during 2009. It was also very light and a little unstructured for a congress of such a high level like Madrid Fusion, if the aim was to make it look like an interview it should of been more fluid with less pauses and covering the same topics. Don’t get me wrong I think Grant is a genius and I love his work, but I don’t think he got that across properly this year.

Recently crowned a 3 star Chef, Joan Roca did a very good video presentation. He was given the topic of Sherry Vinegar to work with and he sure pulled out a few great dishes. My only problem was that there were too many people before him who presented via video instead of cooking and the reason why Chefs travel from all over the world is to watch the Chefs and their teams prepare their latest works. But all the same Joan presented some great work and at least he used Jordi for the video presentation

So now for the part where I probably should of stopped writing……………………….

What were the last group of guys thinking?

We all know Rene Redzepi from Noma in Copenhagen (number 3 in the world), I actually ate there last year and had an amazing meal that I still very often remember today. The idea of this conference was that it was a group of Danish friends who were doing a “Jam Session” in the kitchen, after this demonstration I can confidently say, Jam sessions are best left for the Garage when you are trying to play music with your friends, leave the kitchen for cooking. Rene was playing the helper to his friends and not cooking which was a shame as I would of preferred to see him cook. It wasn’t a total disaster as there were 1 or 2 good dishes, but the rest were a real shame. In trying to make the whole thing look like friends playing around and cooking, they actually made it come across as sloppy and careless. Mads prepared his Signature dish (which he stressed 3 times, I would not be advertising this) which was a dish of raw foie gras and langoustines. he would of done better to cut the foie gras with a chainsaw as he made a total mess then continued to cut the langoustines on a dirty board and with a knife which had more foie gras than what is in a terrine. This was assembled on the plate by what looked like a man who was plating dinner for the blind, in a manner I have never before seen. No respect for beauty or even basic cleanliness, then to top it off he “Garnished” the plate with so much oil that it made the raw foie gras look like it was melting…………………. The rest just went downhill from there.

I am sure they are all great Chefs by themselves when they are taking there food seriously, but in this “Jam Session” format I can say they did not come across as Chefs anyone would pay to see demonstrate much less spend their hard earned money to visit their restaurants!

Let’s see what day 2 has in store

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Day 2.....................

I don’t like to put anything negative in my stories as I feel you can find something positive in everything…………………

But unfortunately the grand image I used to have of Madrid Fusion is slowly coming down brick by brick this year, Day 1 was lacking content and day 2 was just the biggest commercial exercise I have seen in the 5 years I have been coming. I will explain more later.

Day 2’s first big event was Alain Ducasse himself doing a “Dialog with a Genius”, this was great as it is not often you get to hear such a legend speak. He was pretty much explaining his progression to where he is today and also his view on the future of food and how he feels about the progression. The only criticism I have is that there were not really any questions with substance asked by the 2 people interviewing him (owner of Madrid Fusion and President of Spanish Gastronomy), I feel there could of been a lot more come out of this session. But all the same I enjoyed very much!

Next was the Great Michel Troisgros! This session was what Madrid Fusion was and should be all about! Michel has such a relaxed presenting style and really bonded with the audience. He did a great presentation using eco-sustainable caviar. The first dish was pressed caviar which he smashed into a strip between 2 sheets of Plastic, he then cooked some endive in vacuum. The endive were laid flat side to side and then the caviar strip was placed on the top. It was then rolled in what could only be best described as a roulade then slowly heated, it was served on it’s end which made it look almost like a pinecone. Second he did some raviolis made from very thinly sliced potato and caviar inside, this was alternated with green peas and dressed with some smoked butter. The commercialism of Madrid Fusion this year is a big problem I have with it and has left a very bad taste in the mouth of many of the guests, Chefs and media. The shame of the whole conference was during the demonstration of Michel when they made him present between 2 massive Mumm Champagne stands and they stopped him halfway to bring out some champagne and make him Cheers for the cameras! The look on his face said that he didn’t even know this was arranged…………………. How shameful can you be! Madrid Fusion, you have really started to become greedy!

For the second day in a row I did not manage to get any lunch, each day they put on a lunch from a particular area of Spain. The idea is that they produce enough to feed everyone lunch as there is not anywhere else to go. By the time I saw the first tray come out I made my way over and by the time I got to the table there was none left and before I knew it they were already serving sweets, so lunch was served for a total of 10 – 15 minutes.

After “Lunch” there was an amazing Chef by the name of Yoshihiro Narisawa, he did a presentation entitled: Land, Air and Fire. This is a Chef that works with many natural ingredients and all with a very strong concept! First he used a wood working Plane to shave some strips of some wood and then used them as you would Bonito flakes to make dashi. This was a great idea as they look very similar and you release the oils and scents when you add the hot water as you do with Bonito. But the best thing he did was the venison which he marinated and dry aged using natural branches as skewers, for this he used Venison which he wrapped in the wood strips which had been marinated in Sake then pasted with Miso. This was hung outside for a total of 3 days. The result looked amazing, a thin band of cured marination on the outside and a firmer texture on the inside as the excess impurities had been removed during the process.

The great presentations didn’t end there…………..

Next was Andoni Luis Anduriz from Mugaritz, who I am sure doesn’t need any introductions being one of the greats of our industry. He presented an amazing concept and technique which was by far the best info to come out of the conference.

Andoni presented a study he has been doing regarding the effect of Lime stone on food, which is not new as the Mexicans have been using it to Whiten Tortillas for hundreds or thousands of years. But what he did discover that is definitely new is the effect when used on fruits and vegetables. He has discovered that when used in a concentration of 20g of powdered lime to make a water bath you can soak your fruits or vegetables for a period of up to 3 hours and the lime will bond to the natural pectins that already exist. This gel that forms is non water or temperature solvent, this means you can create an impermeable layer on the outside so all the steam stays on the inside during cooking and doesn’t soften the outside. This creates a very dry skin on the outside and an inside that you can scoop out with a spoon once you break through the skin with a knife. The possibilities are endless for this discovery he has made! The presentation from Andoni was definitely one of the best of the Madrid Fusion.

Let’s see if day 3 can right the wrongs done in the first 2 days or if it really is the end of what used to be the best Progressive Cuisine conference in the world.

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