Clay Potatoes and Olive Pit Fuel


Edible clay, honey bubbles, and smoke

Smoked Out
Scandinavian chef Rene Redzepi has been firing up his smoker. Using this old-school technique allows him to infuse his foods with bitter, complex flavor while maintaining ties to traditional Danish fare. During his demonstration, each dish he showed had something smoked, from egg yolks to chestnuts, flour, and cheese. To impart that flavor he’s experimented using smoke from chestnut boughs and hay.

Generation Next
The old guard, whose members—Ferran Adrià, Juan Mari Arzak, and Pedro Subijana—have redefined both avant-garde and Spanish cuisine, is still heavily involved in Fusión, but it appears that the torch has passed to a younger generation. From well-known chefs such as Andoni Luis Aduriz to up-and-comers like 27-year-old David Muñoz (pictured here) of recently opened DiverXo, these young men are eager to show the world that they will carry on the legacy of Spanish avant-garde cuisine.

Cosmetology as Gastronomy
Chef Aduriz is known for the mathematical precision with which he executes his take on fusion food at his Basque bistro, Mugaritz. But this year the former Adrià protégé got playful with a dish of soap and bubbles. Aduriz argued that cosmetics are filled with ingredients normally found in the kitchen, so it would only be natural for food to be inspired by cosmetics. Hence, a hake fillet scrubbed by honey bubbles, and a milk and oat sauce fashioned into a bar of soap. Talk about clean food.

It’s the Pits
Spain is the world’s top producer of olive oil. Chef Ángel León figured out a use for all that olive pit detritus: as an alternative fuel. With the help of Chef Aduriz and the Spanish science research company Actiz, León and Aduriz now use the cheaper, cleaner-burning, more efficient olive pit coals for dishes like lacquered beef.

Rock Steady
Taking the farm-to-fork concept to a whole new level, Chefs Aduriz and Arzak each demonstrated dishes using white clay. Aduriz dunked potatoes in a clay mixture and presented them on sticks for a sort of pebble bouquet, while Arzak (pictured here) austerely served up mojo-marinated hake in a clarified-broth-and-
white-clay sauce.

From Gills to Fin?
The nose-to-tail phenomenon is practically standard operating procedure now, so for Chef Marcos Morán, it was merely the natural progression to apply that philosophy to fish. During his demonstration, he cooked with everything from tuna blood to mullet liver. When asked how he addresses presenting this food to squeamish diners, the chef said he relies on the adage that what you don’t know won’t hurt you.

Avant-Garde for the Masses
The combination of young chefs wanting to break away from traditional cooking, the high cost of living, and the increased layperson interest in good food has created demand for high-end fare offered in a no-frills environment at affordable prices. Sound like bistro cooking? Yes, but because it has to have an -onomy name, the term bistronomy was coined by French food writer Sébastien Demorand in the early ’90s. Chefs Rafa Oriol and Iñaki Aizpitarte showed elegantly straightforward dishes such as foie gras with grated and whole radishes.

Meat? Or Veg?
There are plenty of mock meats available these days, but they’re usually made from soy products and bear little physical resemblance to the real thing. Chef Aduriz demonstrated a garnet-hued carpaccio that everyone assumed was beef until he revealed the truth: watermelon! After being dried at 50 degrees Celsius in an oven, the melon takes on the appearance of meat—it even looks marbled. Then Aduriz grills it. It’s a further extension of the physical transformation of food, and the tricks that these chefs like to play on us.

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