My second installment from Madrid Fusión covers three very different presentations from Day 2’s main stage. Swiss chef Stefan Weisner prepared a single dish, but did so by fashioning everything about it right on stage. Andoni Luis Aduriz and his crew cooked too, but shockingly, they cooked from cans. While Ferran Adriá was notably absent for the second year in a row, his brother Albert was not. Albert didn’t cook, but his presence on stage drew rapt attention from the audience during his conversation with Sergi Arola.
Stefan Weisner of Gasthof Rössli near Lucerne, Switzerland, was not someone of whom I was particularly familiar with before this Madrid Fusión, but his presentation was one of the most interesting of the Congress to me. Like many chefs today, Weisner style of cooking is based upon the natural habitat occurring in the Swiss countryside around his restaurant. Weisner seems prone to take his cooking to extremes and utilized a fully hands-on approach to his cooking.
His presentation commenced with a bit of wood-working as he fashioned a cooking vessel out of cherry wood for the dish that he and his crew would demonstrate. That dish, Swiss Cherry Salmon was offered as a culinary version of a Japanese Haiku poem.
Swiss cherry salmon
harmony with cherry tree
Weisner made the cherry tree, a significant metaphor of Japan, integral to his salmon dish in every way, beginning with fashioning a cooking/serving vessel out of cherry wood right on stage. He began his presentation as a woodworker, while his staff began working on the various products that would be integral to the dish.
A piece of Swiss salmon was placed in the wooden vessel and cooked in a special ultraviolet ray oven.
In the meantime, a number of components of the dish were prepared by Weisner’s assistants, including taking buds from cherry branches. Other cherry components for the dish included leaves, blossoms, distilled cherries, cherries, cherry charcoal, pits, wood ash and smoke.
Cherry smoke and perfume were utilized as olfactory adjuncts of the dish. In addition to the fillet, salmon roe and salmon oil were also used as components of Weisner’s dish. Radishes were also a component of his dish.
This was the salmon fillet out of the UV oven. Being landlocked, it’s color was markedly different than most ocean going salmon .
Andoni Luis Aduriz is not just one of my favorite chefs. He is also one of my favorite people on the planet. He is creative, brilliant, friendly and very much a down to earth human being. I, along with many others, was therefore quite surprised to see his presentation on the main stage come off as an infomercial.
It’s not that what he presented – a series of aerosol cans for cooking different things – didn’t have any interest or application. It was that he did it on the main stage of what has been the premiere Chef’s Congress in the world over the previous 10 years. Aduriz consulted with a major Spanish grocery chain to come up with these aerosols with applicability for both home and restaurant use, especially in an era of cost controls, as the aerosols, under the trade name of “NewFoodSpray” have the potential to save on labor costs.
The first one was an aerosol with pancake batter, for which Aduriz and his team crafted some hors d’ouvres and sandwiches.
The second was a tempura batter, which of course was used to make tempura.
It was, however, also used to make other things including noodles or okonomiyaki type omelets.
A cheese spray also had a variety of applications, including, in its simplest state, as a topping for nachos.
I managed to have a taste of the fresh churros that were made from one of the sprays and that got passed through the audience. It was quite good, as I would expect from Aduriz.
There was also one for Pastry Cream that looked appealing. The sprays are currently available in over 100 locations throughout Spain. I have no doubt that these are excellent products and I have no problem with Aduriz being part of their production. I also have no problem with their intended market of home kitchens, where good quality, time saving products always have value. I am not particularly interested in visiting restaurants where these products might be used simply because they are more economical. I am also surprised that this the central presentation of such a great, creative chef. Nevertheless, Aduriz has always been one to push the bar and this presentation certainly got people talking.
The brothers Adriá are ever interesting and whatever they do or say is sufficient to draw rapt attention. Ferran was not at Madrid Fusión for the second straight year, but Albert is more than enough to on his own to carry a show. He sat down with Chef Sergi Arola and journalist Julia Perez to discuss what is going on in the world of the Adria’s today.
elBulli may be closed, but Ferran is busy working with the elBulli Foundation in the hopes of opening up in Cala Montjoi on or around schedule. Albert, on the other hand, has been busy making food and working on opening up restaurants.
Both Tickets and the ever-morphing 41˚ in Barcelona have been huge successes, but the Adria’s are never without ideas or drive. 41˚ has reworked itself from its initial concept as a cocktail bar to the current equivalent of elBulli in Barcelona. Changes will not stop there though. The Adrias have recently purchased the adjacent space and 41˚ will expand to two levels. The top level will continue the current iteration of 41˚ as an elBulli equivalent with multi-course tasting menus, while the lower level will revert back to the original concept of a cocktail bar.
Ever international in culinary scope, Albert and the Adriá team will be opening a Peruvian-Japanese restaurant in Barcelona next month. It will be called Pakta, is in the Paral-lel, quite close to Tickets and 41˚. This restaurant will feature cebiches, causas and plenty of seafood, which will be supplied by the Adrias’ partners from the noted Barcelona seafood restaurant, Rias de Galicia.
After having seen Albert’s presentation at the Mesamerica Congress in Mexico City this past summer, I am personally particularly excited by their upcoming Mexican restaurant, Yaguarcan, which will be a large restaurant located in the Raval section of Barcelona. I can’t wait!