The chef, Paco Ron, who recently brought his Asturian restaurant Taberna Viavelez to Madrid was tapped to be the first up to talk and give a demonstration of what has become a major trend as well as a significant theme of this Congress, "Haute Poor Cuisine: Imagination in Crisis Times." The idea is to stretch the concept of haute cuisine beyond that of the use of expensive, luxury ingredients. By using imagination, good product and creative technique, one can take fairly standard ingredients and convert them into something delicious and novel, effectively making "haute poor cuisine." Ron's presentation continued what had already been started that day by del Cerro and Morales, this time infusing his ingredients with an Asturian flair.
The first dish that he and his assistant made was "Potatoes of Importance with Cockles." The name strikes English speakers as odd, but this is a tradition based potato dish, so-called because of the presentation of the potato as centerpiece. In turn using the humble potato as centerpiece qualifies this as haute poor cuisine. The cockles adds depth, flavor and texture without greatly elevating the cost of the dish. Potato patties are initially battered and fried before steeping in a hot cockle and herb broth.
Ron moved on to a dish that was very inexpensive to make, very humble, but also very delicious, Chestnut Soup. Chestnuts were traditionally a major food source of the poor, but he uses them in his cuisine. Along with chestnut flour, Ron uses meat stock, pork jowl confit and apple as major components of this frugal dish. He embellished the final plating with chestnut smoke under a cloche.
For his final dish, Ron prepared a traditional Asturian dish called "Emberzado." His version consisted of a chorizo soup, pork belly, pork blood, cornbread, collard greens and a sous-vide cooked egg yolk (35 minutes at 65ºC). The emberzado itself is a mixture of layered pork belly, onion, parsley, pimentón and blood all kneaded together, then wrapped in scalded cabbage leaves before simmering for several hours in hot water before cooling. The dish is constructed using the emberzado, in a pool of chorizo soup served with cornbread and the egg yolk sitting atop either the emberzado (per the recipe) or a scalded collard leaf (per his presentation). Unfortunately, I was unable to get any good photos of the final dishes as I had to be elsewhere by the end of Ron's presentation.
I was unable to see the presentation of Peter Nillson.