Madrid Fusion 2009 – An Overview

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Four days of presentations, exhibits, demonstrations, food, wine, cocktails and energy sapping running around – that is Madrid Fusion. The seventh consecutive edition of this world famous, trailblazing event took place in Madrid, Spain at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos in northeastern Madrid a metro stop away from the airport from the 19th-22nd of January. While the audience was largely Spanish, presenters, cooks and journalists came from around the world to participate in and partake of the proceedings. It is a massive organizational undertaking with a multimillion Euro budget employed for getting presenters, setting the stages of the convention center, publicity and entertainment. The organizers led by the founders Jose Carlos and his sister Esmeralda Capel certainly have made this handling this process into second nature for them including such details as live multilingual translations available via headsets.

This year's program included in addition to the usual presentations from established and rising Spanish chefs sharing their approaches and techniques, several special areas of focus. Each year, the Congress tends to focus on a particular geographic region, bringing chefs and important culinary professionals from that region to Madrid to give a flavor of where they are from and to highlight the important  culinary trends from that region. Last year the focus shone on Scandinavia, highlighting the work of Rene Redzepi, Magnus Ek, Matthias Dahlgren and others. This year that honor fell on the country of Mexico including such well known chefs and writers like Patricia Quintana, Enrique Olvera and Ricardo Munoz. In addition there were special focus subjects such as exploring the effects of the world economy on cuisine, noting the rise of "poor" haute cuisine, gastrobars from noted chefs and a continued trend towards the offering of small plates. While increased ecological awareness in the kitchen has been around in the US for some time, that is only recently becoming a consideration in Spain and Europe. With all the "serious" subjects, the elements that made Madrid Fusion world famous, original, creative cookery and "play food" were not to be left out. Within all of this there were discussions and debates between some of the world's most creative culinary minds on "Molecular Gastronomy" and Pierre Gagnaire giving an honest and heart felt discussion of his culinary philosophy.

I hope in the coming weeks to provide pictorial and verbal impressions of some of the proceedings. In addition, I plan to report on my culinary experiences of Madrid both within and away from the Congress. Please stay tuned.


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