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DECEMBER WG MAGAZINE 2017

GEETA BANSAL CONVERSATIONS

WITH CHEFS

www.wgmagazines.com

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EX.IT EXTRAORDINARY ITALIAN THE CULINARY MAGAZINE BY ALFREDO RUSSO

THE NEW CULINARY MAGAZINE BY MICHELIN STAR CHEF ALFREDO RUSSO & WG MAGAZINE

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enter to win.. dine with champions WG is giving 4 lucky winners

a chance to win passes to the star studded GLOBE SOCCER AWARDS & FOOD FOR CHAMPIONS

on 28th December 2017 at Madinat Jumeirah Answer a simple question http://wgmagazines.com/competition

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Evening safari. Private dinner. Close encounters. Unforgettable.

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Jean-Georges Dubai showcases a comfortable indoor layout with a jade, cozy garden. While providing a fine atmosphere of an outdoor vivid lounge and stunning interiors, Jean-Georges Dubai offers its guests the chance to enjoy multiple evenings with live entertainment, a Friday brunch with an exquisite menu created by 2 Michelin Star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten paired with impeccable service. The restaurant presents a warm ambiance that captures Dubai’s affinity throughout the day to uphold a late night. JG Dubai is a preferred venue for many celebrities who have chosen it as a trendy destination to celebrate their events or simply to enjoy the exquisite dishes and service. Guests who have joined us in the past include key members of royal families in the UAE as well as international names such as Russell James, Franca Sozzani, Nargis Fakhri, Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf, Dwight Yorke, and Christian Louboutin.

Four Seasons Resort Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai

Book at +971 4 343 6118

info@jean-georges-dubai.com | www.jean-georges-dubai.com

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Contemporary Italian cuisine by

World Renowned Three Michelin Star Chef Heinz Beck

For reservations call +971 4 8182 155 | +971 4 818 2222 | Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah | www.waldorfastoria.com/Dubai

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DUTY DUTYFREE FREE PRODUCTS PRODUCTS & & BONDED BONDED STORES STORES

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Culinary Arts can give new life to children... we make it our mission to identify talented, underprivileged children with culinary ambitions and provide opportunities that otherwise would have been beyond their reach‌

Grant MacPherson

WO’GOA Foundation Ambassador An inspirer, innovator and perfectionist - Grant encompasses all the qualities that deserving children can glean from a role model!

The Pearl Martin Benn - Sepia, - WG December 2017 Sydney, Australia

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partnered with SKD ACADEMY the culinary institute in the Philippines


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Avani and Bala #VisitSpain #Andalusia #Sevilla #Giralda #Architecture #BeautifulView

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“IN OUR CITIES, WHEN YOU LEAVE ONE EMBLEMATIC SPOT, YOU ENTER ANOTHER. YOU WILL SOON DISCOVER THAT ALL OF THEM ARE PART OF YOU”.

spain.info

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Real Madrid Café is a space where the passion for Real Madrid, football and socializing becomes one.

With two levels and two massive screens, Real Madrid Café, The Beach, JBR is the ultimate hangout for live matches while enjoying the beachfront location. Offering all-time comfort food favorites like burgers & wings, a wide selection of creative mocktails and shisha flavors, Real Madrid Café creates the perfect setting for Madridistas and sports enthusiasts a-like to gather and support their teams.

The extensive range of Real Madrid merchandise, including over 40 exclusively signed

pieces of memorabilia, ensures to give all shoppers and diners the ultimate football experience. Real Madrid Café also hosts a variety of events and is a popular place for birthday parties of all ages.

THE BEACH AT JBR, DUBAI U.A.E. TEL 04 277 5625 www.realmadridcafedubai.com realmadriddubai@ginzarestaurants.com

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La Dolce

Vida

LA DOLCE VIDA Add a little European flair to the middle of the week with sundowners the Italian way. Every Tuesday, from 6.00pm to 9.00pm, enjoy a unique experience as you savour a selection of antipasti, accompanied by refreshing beverages in the chic atmosphere of the Stage2. AED 99 inclusive of an antipasti and pizza selection paired with a selected beverage.

BOOK NOW

U BY EMAAR

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Bon Vivant Communications

A global gastro embassy specialising in culinary diplomacy, exclusive dinner parties, star chef world tours, cultural marketing, filmmaking and entrepreneurism. The core expertise is in brand management and PR of gourmet restaurants and star chefs, but also of resorts, châteaux and food festivals. Creator of Dining Impossible and the San Sebastián Dinner Series, as well as the 2016 Diego Muñoz Exploration and 2017 Kamilla Seidler Expedition. Culinary Producer of “Michelin Stars - Tales from the kitchen”. Daily serving partnerships in Copenhagen, Paris, Vienna, Madrid, San Sebastián, Moscow, Macau, New York City, Mexico City, Lima and La Paz.

www.bon-vivant.dk

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Memories create a journey you can always return to

Let us delight you with a Grand Culinary Aqua Journey. Enjoy a 9-course menu with wine pairing from Sven Elverfeld and team, luxurious accommodation and breakfast in the Club Lounge. restaurant-aqua.com

This extraordinary arrangement is available from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Package is subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other offer. Advance reservations are required; rates do not apply to groups. Rates listed are per room, per night, single or double occupancy, and exclusive of gratuities and other charges unless otherwise noted. Hotel credits cannot be used toward room rate, resort fee or gratuities. Š2017 The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

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‫ﻣﻔﻬﻮم اﺑﻴﺎت ﻫﻮ اﻟﺠﻤﻊ ﺑني اﻟﻄﻌﺎم واﳌﻮﺳﻴﻘﻰ ﰲ أﺟﻮاء ﻣﺜﺎﻟﻴﺔ ﻣام ﻳﺠﻌﻠﻬﺎ ﺗﺠﺮﺑﺔ ﻣﺜﺎﻟﻴﺔ ﰲ‬ ‫ﻟﺬﻳﺬ اﳌﺬاق اﻷﻃﺒﺎق اﻟﻠﺒﻨﺎﻧﻴﺔ اﻷﺻﻴﻠﺔ وﻟﺬﻳﺬ‬.

The concept of Abyat is to combine food and music in the perfect ambiance making it the ultimate ex�erience in savouring authentic and flavorf�l Lebanese dishes.

‫ﺳﺎﻋﺎت اﻟﻌﻤﻞ‬

‫ﻣﻦ اﻷﺣﺪ إﱃ اﻟﺨﻤﻴﺲ‬

Sunday to Thursday 12pm to 1am

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OPENING HOURS

‫اﻟﺠﻤﻌﺔ واﻟﺴﺒﺖ‬

Friday - Saturday 12pm to 2am

Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, Shoreline Apartments 10 For Reservation Call : 04 5588 428 info@abyatdubai.com, www.abyatdubai.com - WG December 2017 Abyat-DXB


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Simply Italian brings to Dubai, the ultimate Italian experience, exploring the superior culinary skills with mouthwatering dishes. With a vibrant & colorful terrace, Simply Italian offers a charming atmosphere while dining by the beach. Opening Hours

Sunday to Thursday : 12pm to 1am | Friday to Saturday : 12pm to 2am

Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, Shoreline Apartments 10 For Reservation Call : 04 55 88 354 info@simplyitaliandubai.com | www.simplyitaliandubai.com SimplyItalianDubai

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THE ULTIMATE ITALIAN EXPERIENCE

The perfect destination for authentic Italian cuisine overlooking the Dubai Fountain and full views of the Burj Khalifa SUNDAY - THURSDAY 12 pm - 12:00 am info@Serafinadubai.com | www.serafinadubai.com SerafinaDubai serafinadxb

FRIDAY - SATURDAY 11 am - 1:00 am

BOOK NOW! CALL 04 363 8447

AT SERAFINA SOUK AL BAHAR, DOWN TOWN DUBAI

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For more than 80 years, Bragard supports women and men who give the best of themselves everyday at work to ignite their client’s taste buds. Combining tradition and inovation, professional workwear from Bragard gained unparalled reputation thanks to its quality and make the biggest names of the culinary and hospitaly world proud.

BRAGARD LLC OFFICE 604 BEDAIA BUILDING AL BARSHA 1 PO BOX 214338 DUBAI UAE Tel : +971 4 395 16 11 Fax : +971 4 395 16 12 fabien.firetto@bragard.com

www.bragard.com

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Editor

Fabian deCastro

Culinary Editor

Geeta Bansal

Lifestyle Editor

Doug Singer

Feature Editor

Oilda Barreto

Contributors

Michael Hepworth Claudia Ferreres

Photography

Victoria Shashirin

FJMdesign WGkonnect Photography Consultant Creative Design Studio Publisher IZZY Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

‘ Identifying underprivileged children with culinary ambitions...

WG™ is an online digital publication published by: Izzy Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Unit 14, Agnelo Colony, Kerant, Caranzalem, 403002 Goa, India Tel: +91(832) 2463234 Fax: +91(832) 2464201 sales@wgmagazines.com

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Company Registration Number U22100GA2011PTC006731 Marketing & Advertising Call: +91 832 246 3234 E-mail: marketing@wgmagazines.com WG™ Beverly Hills Michael Hepworth 287 S.Robertson Blvd Beverly Hills, CA 90211 WG™ New York Doug Singer - Head of Operations, North America 404 East 66 Street, Suite 2E New York, NY 10065 E-mail: doug@wgmagazines.com WG™ International Representative Point Select Leisure Management DMCC P.O.Box 333581, Dubai, U.A.E.

©IZZY Publishing Pvt. Ltd. All rights reserved. Editorial material and opinions expressed in WG™ digital publication do not necessarily reflect the views of IZZY Publishing Pvt. Ltd. WG™ and IZZY Publishing Pvt. Ltd. cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or errors and do not accept responsibility for the advertising content. All contents are strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Production in whole or part is prohibited without prior permission from IZZY Publishing Pvt. Ltd. ©2017 WG™ All rights reserved.

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Cover Image Credit: YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA - WINTER NARISAWA PHOTO © SERGIO COIMBRA


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WG ends the year on a great note and begins 2018 on a greater one… WG collaborates with Bendoni Consulting with Globe Soccer Awards and Food For Champions and a partnership in 2018 with Michelin Star Chef Alfredo Russo with the release of a new culinary magazine – EX.IT – Extraordinary Italian. This English Italian language magazine will be dedicated to Italian chefs both in Italy and around the world, and the first issue is scheduled for 15th January 2018. Congratulations to Guy Savoy for being awarded the 2018 LA LISTE BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD and to a dear friend Heinz Beck for getting his Seventh Michelin Star.

WG’s second issue Conversation with Chefs… fine dining in Germany at Wolfsburg Ritz Carlton - Aqua restaurant. The Aqua restaurant, the only one in the Ritz Carlton chain to hold Three Michelin Stars, Sven Elverfeld’s exquisite cuisine is credited with bringing attention to modern German cuisine. Carme Ruscalleda - the Seven Michelin Starred Spanish chefs cuisine reflects her love of Catalunya, utilizing the products of local farms and artisanal producers. With his iconic dishes “Essence of The Forest and Satoyama Scenery”, Yoshihiro Narisawa’s unique cuisine is an ode to his Japanese culture and ancestors bridging centuries old traditions to contemporaneity. Coupling Japanese culture and seasonality with French sensibility. David Toutain has mesmerized diners and critics alike as he paints the canvass of his menus with improbable combinations of textures, flavors and tastes. Rudolfo Guzmán has placed Chile squarely on the international gastronomic map with his very distinct culinary concept featuring produce sourced from the Andes, Patagonia the coast and the Atacama Desert that has attracted the attention of Guzmán. Lima, the gastronomic hub of Peru… Mitsuharu Tsumura’s Japanese Peruvian style of cuisine owes its origins to the Japanese farm workers who migrated here to work in the sugarcane fields. It masterfully blends Peruvian ingredients to traditional Japanese techniques.

Quique Dacosta creates his version of avant-garde Spanish cuisine in the sunny coastal town of Denia. This self-taught Spanish superstar is known as an innovator with his edible veils, papers and landscapes imitated by cooks around the world. A journey from tradition to modernity with bold flavors… Mourad Lahlou cuisine has a unique soul reflective of this very down to earth and friendly man who epitomizes hospitality. A very special thank you to Sven Elverfeld and Yoshihiro Narisawa for the forewords which they have written for this December issue. Bon Appétit

FdeCastro

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Each and every day in my work I endeavor to give unforgettable moments and pleasure to people. This is my definition of happiness. Indeed, I cannot imagine working at something that does not challenge me either intellectually, physically or with regard to craftsmanship. For me, cooking means a freedom in which I can give emotional expression to my thoughts with passion. Curiosity and a constant striving for further development is the motor of my creativity. My work gives me great pleasure and I can say that in my profession I have also found my calling. Working together with a motivated, professional team to present our guests with a remarkably pleasurable time and to enchant them with a culinary experience is not just art. It is rather the result of perfectly executed craftsmanship and very personal service. Almost 18 years have flashed by since I came to Aqua. Aqua has left an impression on me and I have left an impression on Aqua. The saying that one grows in direct relation to the demands made on one is very apt here. It is well-known that I am very ambitious, and in my opinion ambition is a virtue as well as an indispensable prerequisite for success. “In addition to the courage to venture into the new, the modern, the neverbefore-attempted is the striving for perfection. Joy in the experimentation while remaining faithful to love of the traditional.� Thanks a lot WG Magazine & Geeta Bansal for giving us the opportunity to reflect. Sven Elverfeld AQUA

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PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

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DECEMBER 2017

CONTENTS 44

Fine Dining In Germany

70

Seven Michelin Starred Spanish Chef

92

Cluinary DNA

112 Edible Haiku’s Worthy Of Michelin Stars 136 That’s My Life 158 Borago In Santiago 180 The Journey From Tradition To Modernity 202 Peruvian Chef And His Nikkei Cuisine

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Winter

Yoshihiro Narisawa brings nature to a plate... Natural yeast collected from the deep woods in Japan where beech primeval forest remains. Enjoy watching the fermentation of dough on the table to confirm with one’s own eyes the power of live microbe. A number of winter colored nuts are gifts from animals before hibernation.

YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA - WINTER NARISAWA PHOTO © SERGIO COIMBRA

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PHOTO © SERGIO COIMBRA


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From a long time ago, the Japanese people cultivated fields within limited space surrounded by mountains and the sea, grew rice, and collected the blessing from the sea that contained nutrition of the forest. Japanese people believed that humankind was always part of nature, so they were living together with the sea and mountain. Using only what is needed from nature effectively while tending it appropriately, and at the same time sustaining a healthy environment. This is “SATOYAMA Culture”. SATOYAMA is the embodiment of sustainable living where people and nature coexist in a symbiotic relation-ship. I reconstruct the knowledge and skills that SATOYAMA culture has developed. Then I express it in the form of cuisine. ~“Innovative SATOYAMA Cuisine”~ I hope that it gives people the opportunity to realize what they are losing. Cooking is history itself. A history of what we saw, what we felt, how we spent, and a story drawn on the dish. Such a daily each action makes a modest history. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to WG Magazine and Geeta who are always interested in it. It’s my pleasure if you feel the Japanese forest aroma and Japanese sea breeze from my article. Yoshihiro Narisawa

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Congratulations

GUY SAVOY

THE MAGICIAN OF FRENCH CUISINE 2018 LA LISTE “BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD”

PHOTO © JLAURENCE MOUTON

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Congratulations

HEINZ BECK

THE MASTER OF GASTRONOMY THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN! WINNING TWO MICHELIN STARS IN ONE WEEK… GUSTO BY HEINZ BECK – CONRAD ALGARVE SENSI BY HEINZ BECK - TOKYO

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PHOTO © ALEX ITURRALDE


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PHOTO © ANTONIO SABA

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SVEN ELVERFELD

SVEN ELVERFELD MICHELIN-STARRED FINE DINING IN GERMANY

PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

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SVEN ELVERFELD

n conversations about contemporary gastronomy, Germany tends to be overshadowed by its neighbors like France, Italy or Spain in spite of its eleven three Michelin starred restaurants. Deutschland is not where most Gastro tourists head to, unless they are familiar with the prowess of contemporary German chefs such as Sven Elverfeld. Germany boasts one of the more robust economies in Europe, with well-heeled clientele supporting upscale fine dining restaurants like Elverfeld’s Aqua restaurant in the Wolfsburg Ritz Carlton. The hotel sits amidst the car themed Autostadt, an immense amusement park like complex in the small city of Wolfsburg , the headquarters of the Volkswagen automobile giant. The park’s huge pavilions showcasing cars are not the only draws for local and international visitors. The Aqua restaurant, the only one in the Ritz Carlton chain to hold three Michelin stars, is a star attraction, standing in the midst of a surreal collection of pre WWII factories with their looming smoke stacks spewing plumes of white smoke into the skies.

I

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CHAR FROM TAINACH ‘MARINATED WITH GREEN HERBS OF FRANKFURT’ MUSTARD, EGG, GREEN HERBS & CHAR CAVIAR PHOTO © WONGE BERGMANN


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In this somewhat unusual setting the old elements juxtapose with the contemporary architecture to provide a unique setting for the restaurant and its modernist cuisine. At night the windows of the elegantly appointed restaurant frame the brilliantly lit lush landscape of the complex interspersed with multiple water features, providing a perfect backdrop to Sven Elverfeld’s exquisite cuisine. Elverfeld is credited with bringing attention to modern German cuisine and while holding three Michelin stars, his Aqua has also been recognized as one of the World’s 50 Best restaurants for the past several years. Opened in 2000 Aqua, quickly earned its first star in 2002, second in 2006 and the third Michelin star in 2009 justifying its status as a destination restaurant. Elverfeld has been bestowed with numerous awards and accolades including Chef of the Year by Gault & Millau in 2004 with Aqua scoring 19.5 points out of 20 in 2017. WG December 2017 -

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SVEN ELVERFELD

Elverfeld began his training first as a Konditor or pastry chef continuing onto the savory side in the top kitchens of Germany such as Humperdinck in Frankfurt, Dieter Müller in Bergisch-Gladbach, Hessler in Maintal and the Gutsschänke in the Schloss Johannisberg. He came aboard the Ritz Carlton group’s Dubai operation and then transferred to Wolfsburg to helm Aqua. Since its opening Aqua has become the jewel of the upscale hotel chain and offers one of the premier dining experiences in Europe. The spectacular plates, attentive service and the extensive wine lists make it a destination restaurant for savvy German diners as well as international visitors. Just an hour’s train ride from Berlin or by plane into Hamburg it is also easily accessible by car from any of these cities as well as Düsseldorf or Cologne. On any given night besides the local clientele there are often guests from Asia, especially Japan, China, Korea, Peru, Brazil and the US. The detail-oriented chef is hands on in every aspect of his operation, including the original serve ware he collaborated on with his engineer father. The dishes are used to serve the restaurant’s ever-changing selection of amuses that begin the Aqua experience. His playful interpretations of classics are also in his well-received cook book simply titled “Sven Elverfeld” a heavy tome with mouthwatering pictures of his food and recipes from the Aqua kitchen. A father with a young family, this perfectionist in the kitchen is the face of modern German gastronomy. Elverfeld is a welltraveled, well-read intellectual who is also an avid skier and has a keen interest in music. Interestingly any conversation with him invariably veers into the subject of cuisine and his passion for his profession and craft is easy to discern.

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FOIE GRAS & MOLE -MARINATED CHICORY & FIG PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

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SVEN ELVERFELD

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Why is Germany not perceived as a fine dining destination by diners despite the level of excellence in cuisine? Germany doesn’t get so many food travelers and a lot of our customers are tourists who come to visit cultural attractions or come on business. There is virtually no food tourism and if we have 8% to 10% international guests then for us it’s a lot. Compare us to say Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Fransescana in Modena or Elena and Juan Mari’s Arzak in San Sebastián for instance where 60% to 80% are food tourists so there is a big discrepancy. In my opinion if you look back at the sixties Germany was already a country known for its automobile industry and German tourists were already traveling in large numbers all over the world. Most German’s were traveling at least once or twice a year to a different destination in Europe like Italy, France or Spain by car. They brought back many of these cuisines and probably that is why we have a lot of Italian restaurants and one exists almost in every neighborhood. What the German’s didn’t do even twenty years ago was promote their own kitchens or food culture. FOIE GRAS & MOLE -MARINATED CHICORY & FIG PHOTO © GÖTZ WRAGE

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SVEN ELVERFELD

Is the German government or Tourism Board getting more proactive in this regard? Not really since like other countries, they don’t fly in people to help promote our food culture like say Copenhagen, Peru, or even Mexico is doing now. Spain sells a lot of food products in different countries so its cuisine is more recognized. Germany is known for more technical products which it exports. All these reasons impact the food tourism and promotion of our chefs and restaurants. There are many international food congresses and events taking place these days. Can German chefs take initiative to hold them in Germany or even travel more to such events like Cook it a Raw etc.? PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

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I myself do travel to different events like the Cayman Island food festival, charity dinners like an event at Frantzen in Stockholm, a food congress in Prague, Massimo Bottura’s Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan to cook with food waste, and Chef Sache that takes place in Cologne every year. In the last five years most international customers traveling to dine at Aqua are coming mainly due to the World’s 50 Best list. It has helped us a lot by bringing more attention to Aqua and in promoting our cuisine. Now we are on the radar and almost every day we have customers from Latin America or Asia who learnt about us because of the 50 Best list. We do get a lot of customers from Hamburg and even more from Berlin, a more well-known tourist destination, and just an hour away by train.


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PIGEON BREAST WITH ORIENTAL FLAVOURS - LEAF SPINACH, TOMATO & BACON EMULSION, CRÈME FRAÎCHEGÖTZ WRAGE PHOTO © WONGE BERGMANN

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SVEN ELVERFELD

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When you envision a new concept or dish how long does the process from an idea to reality take? Some ideas we think about, write or record, and test out and some are never realized. I see those as having a missing part and then we try with a different ingredient or technique. Sometimes despite repeated attempts it is not satisfactory to me but then I don’t just discard it we hold on to it and one day we revisit it and look at it with a new perspective and surprisingly it works out great that time. I don’t give up and try to rework ideas again if they don’t work out the first time. Sometimes the entire process takes two to four weeks. Your cuisine is very meticulous and complex and you play with a lot of texture and flavor, yet color plays an important role on your plates. Is color an important element in food composition for you? It depends, sometimes my dish may not be colorful but monochromatic like it might have variations of brown or white. For me color is an element that comes towards the end. I am not a chef who will add flowers on a plate just because it needs color. Only elements that make sense in the plate will go on it. I am definitely not one who likes to add garnish for the sake of color.

TROUT FROM LUNEBURG HEATH “STAINED” LETTUCE, GOOSEBERRY, PECAN & HORSERADISH PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

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SVEN ELVERFELD

What kind of flavors do you like in your dishes? I like strong flavors. I don’t consciously add them they come along in the process. If I create a dish I know the taste I am aiming for and if I have a piece of meat I don’t like to mix up too many things in it so as not to lose the taste of the meat. In the past few months we are pickling and fermenting our own vegetables. We are now doing a dish with pork jowl with smoked eel. We first marinate the eel for two days with Asian spices, soy sauce etc. and then grill it on a charcoal grill. It is then served with our homemade version of Kimchi with fermented radish and burnt yuzu. This is an unusual preparation especially for the use of the pork jowl in Germany as this part is usually discarded. We are also serving the calves head with oysters where we do a ragout and then mix with oysters. I like working with unusual combinations such as combining seafood with meat.

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CARAMELIZED KALAMATA OLIVE PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL


WG MAGAZINE

You have trained in both the sweet and savory kitchen. Does that help in balancing flavors especially in these unusual combinations? I don’t combine these purposefully but just leave it to chance. It doesn’t work if you say, “I need a new idea so let me find one.” The most ideas come when you are free in your mind and usually not at work.

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SVEN ELVERFELD

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SMOKED EEL „GREEN“ & CALF’S HEAD - CUCUMBER, HORSERADISH, LEEK, JALAPEÑOS, JUNIPER BERRIES, PISTACHIOS & LIME PHOTO © GÖTZ WRAGE


WG MAGAZINE

You use very precise techniques to bring flavor to your dishes. Is there a limit to how many you will incorporate into one dish? Firstly the flavors cannot be contrasting and have to be harmonious. It’s the same as when you create a piece of music. Sometimes what is perceived as progressive and seems like it doesn’t fit can then miraculously fit. It all depends on how strong are the flavors that are being combined. When you build the dish, do you work along a certain theme or direction?

PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

For me it is similar to the process of a songwriter writing the lyrics; they don’t usually all come at the same time. You write the big notes and then the small bits come later. It all depends on the length of time you work on it. In a dish the amount and type of the small ingredients added later can change the profile. German cuisine is perceived to be meat heavy. Is that true these days with the stress on vegetarian or vegan elements? In fact we have a dish on the menu that is totally vegetable based. It has potato, sorrel, root vegetable, egg yolk, and a fume from smoked trout that is added as a foam, then topped with caviar. The vegetables are al dente and combined with the fish foam, egg and caviar it’s delicious. We do work with seasonal produce from around our region.

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SVEN ELVERFELD

Since seasonality is important in your kitchen, what are some of the products being used in your menu for this season? We have two menus and both use seasonal and locally sourced products like German chicken. This is a free range chicken with a district taste that comes from nearby Watterheim, in fact an area where I grew up. When I worked in Greece they used to do a one pot dish of lemon, parsley, tomato and cut up fresh chicken and it was accompanied with salad of tomato, olives, oregano and feta. At the beginning of this season I was reminiscing about the time back in 1992 when the mother of the family cooked a one pot simple dish for the staff. The memory of that traditional dish inspired a chicken dish with those flavors that is served in two parts on my menu. Some of the dishes however change within the season as availability of some products changes.

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Do these memories of your time in Crete, Kyoto, or Dubai influence your cooking style? These do come back and I want them to as they are part of me and are imprinted in my mind. Just like if you follow a painter and look at where they studied or worked, consider their personal favorites you can find a line connecting all these places and experiences. It is the same with me and I was lucky to travel a lot and in fact still do so of course these experiences affect my cuisine. I do use very German products like snails or char with caviar, mushrooms with hazelnuts but now we also have Japanese Wagyu on our menu and serve it with pickled beetroot with coriander and yuzu. The first famous chef in Germany was totally inspired by France and in my case I was lucky to go away to other countries and get inspiration from other areas. I also picked up very basic but different techniques used elsewhere and sometimes mixing up these techniques is interesting.

BOILED LAMB TONGUE & LAMB SWEETBREAD “BOLOGNESE” FREGOLA, PANCETTA & RADICCHIO PHOTO © WONGE BERGMANN

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ROASTED PORK CHIN & WARM MARINATED LANGOUSTINE - FERMENTED CARROTS, CRUSTACEAN MAYONNAISE CORIANDER & GINGERWONGE BERGMANN PHOTO © GÖTZ WRAGE


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How do you define your individual cuisine and separate yourself from your fellow German chefs? I want to be free in my mind so I do not look to my left or right and do my own thing and it doesn’t matter if my style is a combination but it is all my own. If you look too much around you then you can get confused. For me it is more interesting to check out different markets and products. Products are my main inspiration for creating along with the season. Of course I see how other chefs are plating but I don’t let it affect me as I want to be myself. It is also interesting to see but when I visit a famous chef’s restaurant I want to enjoy my experience over taking pictures and notes. The eleven top restaurants in Germany are all very different and serve different food. The older chefs are more French based while others they are very futuristic at the other end of the spectrum. Do you think social media has changed this aspect of the food business? Of course. When I was young and wanted to see how Michel Bras was cooking I had to save money, travel there and pay to experience his food. I had the opportunity to first taste before looking at the plating. Now all the young people, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, see all the plates from all the chefs around the world everyday but they never taste the food. They look at the pictures and start cooking or plating without a clue about the taste and it may look the same but does not taste good.

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What are the latest combinations to emerge from your kitchen these days? We are combining pumpkin, bacon, pumpernickel, sorrel, and vanilla ice cream. You have some of the most spectacular amuses served before the meal. Do you feel these are an important component? Some of the amuses are served this way since I feel if the portions are bigger then they will be too much or the flavors are too strong. They are better served in a small taste and I do feel this part of the meal makes diners ready and looking for more. Sometimes on lengthy tasting menus even just one dish has too many components or sides. Are such elaborations necessary? I don’t do this at Aqua, but it does happen sometimes in Germany when there is a main plate and few other plates around it and they are all just one course. I feel it is too much at one time. Twenty ingredients on a plate are too much for me. Combining cuisines like Japanese and French are other things happening here but all these concepts are hard to explain in a single sentence as the chefs have different concepts. There are not many women in kitchens or heading teams in Germany. Is it a cultural phenomenon? We don’t have many women in the kitchen, it is true. In the past ten years we have had a few women cooking in my kitchen and right now I have two, one on pastry and another on line. For the past forty years or so women have mostly been cooking for families and for them sometimes doing both is difficult but things are changing now.

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PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

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How do you relate minimalism and modernity in your food, and do they go together? Sometimes they do but for me I don’t want to have more than five flavors on the dish. I prefer one or two main flavors and few small nuances on the side. It has to make sense otherwise additional elements are not needed. We have a cold starter right now that is a little playful. We are doing a version of saltimbocca with veal tartare, the typical white wine sauce served with saltimbocca, top it with Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pork rinds, a Parma ham stock jelly and fried leaves of different kinds of sage around it, in all a very modern interesting twist. Are international guests surprised at finding this level of haute cuisine in Germany? Yes they are, and they comment about how they had never realized it prior to experiencing our cuisine. Are young German chefs imitating the bistronomie movement towards more casual, price friendly dining in Germany? PHOTO Š GARY SCHMID

In Berlin and Frankfurt such restaurants are opening which are more casual but with more natural food. Something more like the Noma style. So it’s not modern German food but food inspired from outside? What German chefs can do is take tastes from German dishes and create smaller, lighter dishes based on that and present them in a new way and in new surroundings. These are ideas that would also work in cities like New York, Paris or Chicago. I find it interesting and maybe I will consider opening somewhere outside of Germany one day or night might even be a special event in San Francisco or London. WG December 2017 -

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Did you come across any mentors in your formative years who helped you realize your potential? Every chef I worked with famous or not taught me something. I refer not only to learning techniques or cooking but also how to be a good chef, how to lead a team, the way of thinking as an individual. In the kitchen along with cooking other things matter too such as working with your team. There were some chefs who didn’t care about fame and were not only good chefs but good people. To this day I can still talk to them and consult with them and they are also very proud of my achievements. I worked with chefs from zero stars to two or three stars and that didn’t matter since I learnt from each one of them. In fact my first position after school was in the vineyards of Johannisberg, in the Rhinegau, a very traditional area where the focus was on regional German food. For me it was important not to start with the high end cuisine but from the basics. Is your own kitchen brigade very structured, and is there a kitchen hierarchy? In my kitchen there is laughter and at times music, but we also need to be a very organized and focused team. It is not like an army atmosphere, but of course when a big mistake happens, when they know better, then there might be raised voices. At the end of the day however we shake hands with everyone. I should say in my kitchen it is focus with a smile!

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SHISO & PLUM - VANILLA, KEFIR & WHITE CHOCOLAT PHOTO © UWE SPÖRL

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CARME RUSCALLEDA SEVEN MICHELIN STARRED SPANISH CHEF Chef Carme Ruscalleda is a petite, vivacious powerhouse of a woman with a keen sense of humor and an infectious laugh. The self-taught Catalan chef bestowed with three Michelin stars for her Sant Pau restaurant in the scenic town of Sant Pol de Mar also holds two Michelin stars each for her MOments restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona as well as her Sant Pau de Toquio in Japan. In her new role as a gastronomic consultant at the Barcelona hotel she is overseeing the food operations on the property with the exception of the roof top restaurant Terrat. The Blanca under her supervision showcases seasonal produce in a more casual setting featuring some of her classic dishes over the years. The avant-garde chef and art aficionado, well-respected by her peers has spent most of her life in the small seaside town an hour away from Barcelona. Years before the subject of female representation in the kitchen became trendy Ruscalleda challenged the norm, no easy feat in the macho Spanish culture rising to the heights of her profession. Her cuisine reflects her love of Catalunya, utilizing the products of local farms and artisanal producers. She led the way for her male counterparts by taking her cuisine overseas and creating a business model emulated by other Spanish chefs branching out overseas. In her opinion gender based awards in the culinary world create further discrimination instead of developing a harmonious industry and she has preferred to stay away from them.

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PHOTO © ESTOL&MANAU

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Raised in the small town of Sant Pol de Mar in a family of farmers and shop owners she wanted to pursue a career in art but was directed to study commerce instead. The enterprising chef has however brought art into her work, not only on the walls of her dining rooms but onto plates as well. Her artistic presentation of her delicate cuisine is no doubt influenced by Japanese artistry and culture making this destination restaurant a real star in Barcelona’s foodscape. Tasting menus might include dishes like Mystical Mexican Realistic with the red color of prawns, a verdant green Mole dressed with flowers served in a cobalt blue bowl, a dish that brings Mexico to life not only on the palate but also visually. The sweet ending could be a cubist inspired chocolate collage titled Horta De Sant Joan that looks almost too perfect to consume. Her drawing talent comes to play in her playful illustrations that are printed on her menus and in her opinion they initiate a gastronomic dialogue with her guests.

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The service at her elegant restaurants is a reflection of her attention to detail and keen sense of hospitality. Ruscalleda is supported by her partner in life, her husband Antonio Balam and sons Raul and Mercedes in all her ventures. Raul who trained with her at the Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar and Japan is head chef at her two Michelin-starred MOments restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona. Needless to say, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree as he is rapidly gaining acclaim and Michelin stars for his cuisine.

The story of Sant Pau is an inspiration of how a dream can be realized with determination and exceptional talent. Ruscalleda and her husband Antonio started life together in 1975 by working at her father’s deli across the street from the present restaurant. It was sheer coincidence that the sea facing run down villa across the street came up for sale. The couple purchased it to start a simple dining room that quickly gained repute in the region for its food enabling the metamorphosis into the fine dining restaurant of today. VERDE PHOTO © BECKY LAWTON

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Sant Pau, is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateau group and Ruscalleda has won many accolades for her exemplary cuisine including the National Gastronomy prize for 2016 and the highest honor for a Catalunyan, the Jordi Cross. The only woman in the world to hold seven Michelin stars, she has also authored several cookbooks. Invited to lecture at the Harvard University’s Science at Cooking series she shared her knowledge of the Maillard reaction on stage. Impressive for a self taught chef who despite all of her achievements tends to fly under the radar in the international world of food. While her other skills were acquired on the job her charcuterie skills were learned while she was working in her family store. Lucky guests experience her delicious pistachio studded Butifarra sausage when it occasionally appears on her menu.

PHOTO Š CARLES ALLENDE

In the day time the sunlit serene dining room overlooks the sea facing garden and the meals may begin with an aperitif and small bites under the trees towering over the flower and herb laden beds. The main kitchen on the garden level looks out into the green oasis and the occasional train from Barcelona whizzes by along the seashore. What is Modern Spanish cuisine? Spanish cuisine is a very interesting cultural melting pot of several cuisines. Nowadays both in the domestic and professional worlds, a new way of understanding this kitchen is practiced, with a very modern mentality. The modern Spanish cuisine has a revised and renewed cooking time, stressing a cooler texture that is less dense, with less fat, and is lighter.

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PHOTO © CARLES ALLENDE

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PHOTO © CARLES ALLENDE

What is your process for developing a dish from inspiration to a dish on the menu? Generally we start with a concrete idea, “an inspiration.” The next step is to imagine and combine the product with other flavors in a kind of gastronomic game. This continuing process helps decide which culinary technique will best suit each product, and that leads us to the steps best suited to cook with that product. After that we proceed to the first tasting, and continue repeating and fine tuning as many times as that dish requires until we achieve our objective. There is no set time frame for this process and there are some inspirations that resolve quickly while others require more time and testing. We put unresolved ideas on hold saving it in our kitchen dossier where we maintain records of all our work. We might go back and revisit such ideas at a later date. What is your opinion on the place of women in the food industry? I feel the history of the world has really discriminated against women and now women need to get together and stand against it. Cooking is not a sport competition or an Olympics that is based on physical strength. If women cannot compete on the same level in sports then in the culinary world we can certainly compete with ideas and creativity. I was once asked how Catalan men treated women and I said with respect because Catalan women demand it and show themselves worthy of it. There is a popular Catalan fairytale about a prince saving a princess from a dragon. These days there is a funny commercial on TV for a breakfast cereal that is based on this fable. In this version when the prince says he will save her the princess turns around and says don’t bother I can do it myself.

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Farmers market are part of daily life in Spain and its culture. Are people more intimately connected to the food chain? It is true because we have always had these markets before the supermarkets like the Boqueria, or San Antonio in Barcelona and it’s a tradition here to shop at these markets. They exist together with supermarkets and in fact the latter now have a line of ecologically produced products. It’s in our cultural roots to go shopping for food daily at such markets. Now co ops and even farms put together baskets of their produce which goes straight to the consumers.

PHOTO © CARLES ALLENDE

Food waste is the other subject that is getting attention. How do you as a chef deal with this issue in your own kitchen?

The subject of sustainability is trending in the I believe imperfections in looks or appearance of food world these days. Is it significant in Spanish products do not impact the taste in any way and in Spain people understand that the size or looks Gastronomy? of an apple for example does not change the taste I feel that that it is in fact really a recovery of or flavor. A good looking tomato will not look the healthy foods and techniques. It is nothing new same after a few days but it’s a cultural thing to look but something that always existed in our culture. for the perfect. Science has evolved to sell beauty I would refer to it as a rebirth since health and and perfection overlooking taste and flavor in the gastronomy are not on opposing sides but actually process. These days agriculture is for quantity over go together. In our culture there is great respect quality. The big producers with huge production for responsibly produced ingredients and products. and the small farmers cater to two different type of The food system is calibrated to protect and respect customers. There are those that search for the taste nature including the mountains, the sea, and the and flavor overlooking imperfection while others farmlands. look at cost and convenience. WG December 2017 -

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Educating future consumers is important in changing cultures, so are Spanish chefs participating in programs in schools? Yes, we Spanish chefs are very involved in this aspect and are working on a book that teaches basic cooking techniques like frying or baking to open their minds to the different options that are there to prepare food. It will help young people understand the process of transforming ingredients into great tasting food. They will also learn at this impressionable age what options are available and how they can make good choices. I feel the food and the kitchen are important and interesting aspects of life and should be in the curriculum just like music, theatre, sports, academics, and even movies are part of it. Do you think there is over-manipulation of food products these days? The direction in the world is towards manipulation in food production. It’s not just about transformation but also about freedom to create. When you transform something you are creating something new to share with your guests. I do respect these trends but I don’t practice them myself. Food production in the world includes both large scale producers as well as the small farmers and they coexist together in the system. We need to take care of these small farmers and artisanal producers so that they continue to carry on traditional production. There are still people who don’t know the difference in taste and flavor between a fresh banana and one that comes from storage. The seasonality of products definitely affects the taste. Where once only one variety of a single fruit was available there are now six choices with six different tastes. To understand the flavor profile you need to be familiar with the whole range. The difference in products is very important in understanding flavor and to understand what is real and what is manipulated or what tastes the best.

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PHOTO © CARLES ALLENDE

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Do chefs have the ability to influence food culture and society by exposing guests to new ideas? Chefs are like prescribers of taste, ideas, and health as well as ambassadors of cooking and of modernization in kitchens. They are a defense against big companies and corporations who to make money veer people away from healthy foods by making large marketing campaigns to influence food culture. Nowadays just using good products is not enough the looks have become very important.

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When I meet with schools or other professionals in the food industry these are the topics we are all interested in discussing. These days schools stress everything else besides studies and sports except education about food and health. Should this education be provided to culinary school students as part of their training? That is very important to encourage them to develop respect for the products they work with. The tragedy is that the food production and the food industry is all about making money. Now if someone creates a ham that looks and tastes like ham it is more important than the real thing. All these experiments are being conducted around the world for monetary benefit. Recently at a congress in Sevilla, Spain they presented the results of this experiment - a ham without the ham. Though it was made with natural products it tasted and smelt like the real thing.

PHOTO Š CARLES ALLENDE

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What was the technique used? The technique used the collagen in the skin of a pig, they cooked and blended it and spread it in a thin layer on Silpat and it solidified like gelatin, and then it was painted with layers of beetroot juice so the color looked like a cooked ham. The finishing layer was painted with fat from the pig mixed with soya sauce and beetroot juice to end up with a very realistic looking cured ham. It was then presented as a crisp of ham and tasted and smelt like the real thing. Are such products the future of food, because of our diminishing resources? Ideas like this will be important going forward since we already do not have enough food and the problem of hunger will intensify in the future. It will not be possible to have adequate supply of animal proteins. Proteins along with other food supplies will be in short supply. There have to be ingenious ways of solving the problem of hunger. PHOTO Š CARLES ALLENDE

So alternate proteins will become more important in the future and appear on plates in fine dining restaurants? I read a very interesting scientific book by a chef on the kitchen of the future and he talks about such foods as being the future. Alternate proteins will become more important as they already are in many cultures. In order to have insects etc in the food supply we will have to farm them. We ourselves are working with a scientist who believes that if we change our food culture at this point and start eating such things like our ancestors without adequate research it could be dangerous. It’s a cultural thing anyway for it to be acceptable to eat certain things.

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FUXIA PHOTO © BECKY LAWTON

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These days chefs are bringing in nuances and flavors from other cultures. Is this changing their food culture? It’s interesting that now cooks have liberty to incorporate all these different products and influences. The important thing is that even if you use a spice or flavor from another part of the world you still must be able to show where you are. If you travel and find something interesting and bring it into your own kitchen there is a very thin line that is easy to cross over and lose your own identity.

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What has been your own experience since you have a restaurant in Japan? I have worked for over twelve years with the Japanese culture and when I started I thought I will put up a barrier so as not to cross from my cuisine into Japanese. Then I discovered their way of working, cleaning, cutting, cooking with products like making dashi with Kombu, using Yuzu for acidity, the hot and cold cooking styles and learnt all these things over time from the oriental culture. I did learn that less is more and sometimes guests will comment that “see you were always Japanese and you didn’t even know that.” In Japan the cuisine does not include, bread, wine, or olive oil, yet in our kitchen in Tokyo we have brought all these things conceptually into their culture. Over time things have progressed as our work there has opened our minds to many elements. In our cuisine we serve a very traditional chicken stew with peaches but in order to give it a new vision I went deep into the Thai cuisine to make a cold soup in which the chicken was prepared in traditional Catalan style but the presentation was Thai inspired. It was still a Catalan dish though with Thai influence. Experimentation I believe is necessary for evolution.

PHOTO © CARLES ALLENDE

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Will this cultural mix in food lead to a more accepting culture? The gourmands in the world are always keen to discover the new and have fun. The chef tries to divert, to engage, to provide emotion as food is emotional for people in every culture. The chef does it by helping diners discover new food experiences and with those feelings to engage and play with their guests. It is also opening their minds to new possibilities and cultures. The subject of burnout is becoming a popular topic in the food industry. What is your opinion about this? I have been working for almost 50 years in this industry. I come from a family of producers engaged in commercial sector where we have worked nonstop since I first started. I grew up watching family members work nonstop as I did too with no vacations. We worked in a multidisciplinary manner doing everything ourselves. These days everything is organized, with defined working hours, there are vacations and yet there is stress! PHOTO Š CARLES ALLENDE

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We used to work seven days a week in Sant Pau and even now I myself work that way and will probably be working even more now having taken on more responsibilities (her position as gastronomic consultant to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona). At Sant Pau the team members now work only four days a week. When they graduate from culinary school young cooks are used to working on a time table however in the real world you also have to clean the kitchen at the end of the day. The work in the kitchen is hard but that is why people get paid to do it and I feel it’s a generational difference in how young people perceive work and stress. This is the reality of the hospitality industry and culinary programs should apprise students about these realities.


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PHOTO © CARLES ALLENDE

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Why do chefs write cook books? Is it is a way of influencing people? They try to keep the traditions of their kitchens and cooking styles alive and share them with others since over time we acquire more experience and knowledge. I wrote my first book ten years after opening my restaurant as by that time we had a lot of experience and a following and we wanted to share our journey with others. In subsequent books I shared my own evolution from the traditional Catalan kitchen. My second book in fact is about cooking to be happy and it’s not about products but about seasons and sans pictures. This was written sixteen years ago and is still used as a reference because it is a fresher, lighter version of Spanish food and is still up to date.

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Your menus have always been about seasonality and products of your region. Are other Spanish chefs following this style? The base is always the product and we work from that base and create. We look at the best way to use and enhance it to get the most out of it. To have the luxury of cooking with great seasonal products is a boon to any cook. Commercialization has taken some of the fun of seasonal products away by providing everything all year round in markets. For example strawberries in my village were only available in spring or summer but now there are growing different varieties so they are available all year. It’s the mentality in society to have access to products that drives such production.

PHOTO Š CARLES ALLENDE

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What is your first food memory? Diving into my memory, I think a soup of bread and oil. Any favorite city to travel to eat or shop? For professional reasons I travel with my husband every year to Tokyo, it is a city that seduces us with every trip, for the food and for the exotic products that you can only find there. In our list of preferences is also our city of Barcelona which love and recommend our La Ciudad Condal (the historical name for Barcelona) because of its attractive potential to eat and to buy. What are your hobbies & your favorite contemporary artist? PHOTO Š CARLES ALLENDE

The same hobbies as when I was a child, to draw, to write, to read, to walk and to travel continue to make me happy. I am excited about the work of the artist, poet, and singer Joaquin Sabina. Are you happy with what you have accomplished in your career and are there more dreams to fulfill?

Do you have strict rules in your kitchen and what is unacceptable for you? Hugely happy! I am blessed with good health, an entrepreneurial and positive spirit, and a family and I believe that nothing interesting can come out of a team that joins me in the professional projects. from a disorganized and dirty kitchen. In my kitchen I need professionals who feel complicity with the What message would you like to share with food philosophy of the house, who are respectful with lovers? the products, impeccable in the elaborations and feel the commitment to offer the diners an exciting Put the kitchen on the list of interesting things in gastronomic experience. your life.

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PHOTO © CARLES ALLENDE

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QUIQUE DACOSTA

CULINARY DNA PHOTO Š PELUT I PELAT

Quique Dacosta, the debonair chef patron of his eponymous restaurant in Denia, Spain received the ultimate nod from the Michelin with a third star in 2013. The restaurant team upon news of this accolade hung up three stars from the Christmas decorations in impromptu celebration. The present restaurant where Dacosta worked since 1987 and which he subsequently took over in 1999 was initially named El Poblet till he replaced it with his own name in 2009. The third star was preceded by the first in 2003 and the second star in 2007. This self-taught Spanish superstar has been creating his version of avant-garde Spanish cuisine in the sunny coastal town of Denia, south of Valencia for the last seventeen years. The local residents are very proud of this star chef and still refer to his restaurant as El Poblet though that name has since resurfaced in Valencia in a contemporary iteration. Quique Dacosta is truly a destination restaurant, about an hour’s drive south of Valencia and a four hour drive from Barcelona with an option of a fast train from Madrid that gets into Valencia in under two hours. Daco & Co his restaurant group operate three other establishments in Valencia, a busy Gastro bar Vuelve Carolina, the casual Mercatbar, and the elegant El Poblet restaurant that received a Michelin star within months of opening. In recognition of their standard of excellence both starred restaurants retained their status in 2017 adding up to a total of four and counting for the culinary superstar.

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The cuisine at Quique Dacosta though technique driven has not strayed from the traditions and products of his region however it is apparent his travels do influence his menus and cuisine. Dacosta is known as an innovator with his edible veils, papers and landscapes imitated by cooks around the world. The Guggenheim Bilbao oysters, the cubalibre de Foie, the Animated Forest are dishes that put him in international spotlight. Dacosta’s book “Arroces Contemporaneos” (one of many) and his red shrimp from the area as well as the dried octopus on the menu are his tribute to his own region and its traditions. At his white washed restaurant with a contemporary flair, wood floors and striking art displays there is an outdoor lounge area where the diners experience begins with beautifully plated appetizers and champagne. The guests then proceed into the dining room with its minimalist flair but soon realize the real art is on the plates presented to them. The service is personable and gracious being led by Didier Fertilati, his manager and maitre’d who was recently honored as the manager of the year in the 55 Best guide whilst the Quique Dacosta restaurant was recognized as the best table in the Valencia region. Often seen at action in kitchens of his chef friends around the world for collaborative ventures he is a well-respected by his peers in the industry. A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group his restaurant also listed on ranking guides such as Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list, Opinionated About Dining and others.

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SOUP OF SMOKE CHILLIES

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This year he brought his idea of a D*NA festival within the framework of UNESCO’s creative cities in gastronomy to his region. The event rooted in Denia is the main showcase for this way of Mediterranean life and this popular culinary and tourist destination. He was joined by well-known chef friends such as Joan Roca, Jordi Cruz, Angel Leon and Andoni Aduriz. The event is slated to be held annually on the Marineta Cassiana boardwalk in Denia. How important are the guides such as the Michelin for you since recently some of your peers are giving them up? The year we got the third star we doubled the number of guests and obviously without them maybe we wouldn’t be where we are. It is also recognition for the team and a source of encouragement. Independently thinking about who will give them back and who will earn them is an unknown. Where will go you first where you will go with three stars or no recognition? You have spoken about your dreams and how you have realized them in your creations. How can an average person turn a dream into reality? Not all dreams! (Laughing) Nowadays we are the only ones to be imposing limits on our creativity and work. You can visualize and transform your dreams into reality if you believe in them. I believe that the only thing we cannot do or accomplish is what we don’t believe in and have faith in ourselves. WG December 2017 -

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How important is it for you to define your own place in gastronomy and not be compared to others? To be authentic and real and keep creating something unique, it is important for your work or project not to have a stamp or name. Eventually when other chefs are mentioned our name will be mentioned next to them but not as a comparison. Your food creations are sometimes fantasies but how about a creative cocktail that you have come up with? About 22 years ago I created a cocktail when food first started appearing not in a dish but in glass, a martini glass for example. I was doing a martini with deer, black pudding, and patxaran liquor. It was an amuse actually, a creamy drink to be eaten with a spoon. At that time the combination was daring to say the least. At one time I was adding cray lobster to it as well though I am not sure if I will do that again! Though sometimes even now people do remind me of that creation.

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Did that establish you as a creative culinary daredevil? Maybe! (Laughing) Getting something right is great but sometimes a mistake is even better. In fact it was a kind of mistake which shows you what the limits are and you cannot do everything that seems good to you or because you came up with it. In the end it is all about balance. By nature you are not conservative but are you a risk taker? No I am not conservative for sure but what I am doing in my work is all natural and real and it not dangerous. It is my way of expressing myself and it is much more difficult for me to do something traditional or conventional. I am just being myself and expressing myself in my work. WG December 2017 -

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PHOTO © JOSE HARO

PHOTO © JOSE HARO

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PHOTO © JOSE HARO

PHOTO © JOSE HARO


WG MAGAZINE

How does your day begin at work? I get to the restaurant very early about nine in the morning. I go through a few cups of coffee and then get to work with my kitchen team. Usually in Spain we begin a little later than other places. In the afternoon I take a break to spend time with my family and my two children. Then there are meetings and interviews and other things that are part of my day. How do you keep flavor and taste intact in your food while using complicated technical processes? It is very complex and not easy. In principle the process begins early for example while making for example a croquette from Japanese cuisine. The moment you eat one without knowing the process used to make it you want another one. The taste and flavor are what you are aware of instantly before you even know what it is made of. So I try to make something rich in flavor and with real taste before anything else as it should taste good to anyone no matter which part of the world or culture you come from. A cook has to guard the flavor and real identity of the product no matter whether it is simple cooking or complicated technical process. Essentially when I start cooking I already know I am in the modern or molecular realm and at some point while using techniques I have to set the limits technically and taste wise to challenge myself only up to what the diner can accept. Sometimes though I do go a little further on this scale with extreme use of a product. MONKFISH LIVER IN BRINE WITH SEA FENNEL

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QUIQUE DACOSTA

Denia Red Prawn cooked in seawater and wrapped in red cellophane with a gold bow.... These prawns are the most representative product of Denia and Spain’s Mediterranean region. Inspired by Quique Dacosta’s preparation this singular product can now be seen on menus in the country’s most innovative restaurants.

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QUIQUE DACOSTA

What inspires you to include influences from many cultures and regions in your menus? I think I am one of the chefs who think beyond my own region and my cooking is very open to all influences and all are welcome. All my travels help to make my cuisine global and as our menu has forty different things we want our customer to be excited and not get bored during their experience. As you see in my Tomorrowland menu I wanted it to be a global trip through food. We are using a lot of spices to enable this kind of travel through our food. On our menu one course can be Italian inspired pasta and then a ceviche of sea urchin inspired by Peruvian cuisine and the next dish will take you to Thailand. Even if we are using products from a 20 km radius the spices can take you on journey to faraway places and next year we may be using kimchee or the gochujang Korean chili but with a product from only 5km away in the mountains near us.

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MONKFISH LIVER IN BRINE WITH SEA FENNEL


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If you open a restaurant overseas, where would you like to be? I like London since it the capital of Europe and also a cultural center and not only about food. If I get a proposal there I will not be able to turn down the opportunity as it will be a challenge that I will love to take on. It’s not only the contract that is offered which is to be considered because I have to love the concept first. I am a romantic and creative person and it has to suit my disposition. What will be the ultimate deciding factor, finance or more exposure? Of course money is important, otherwise you can just stay home but I want to bring Spanish culture whether tapas or products wherever I go. Whatever it is I don’t want to lose myself or not pay attention to my restaurant and my work which is extremely important to me.

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QUIQUE DACOSTA

Do you enjoy collaborative events with other chefs? It’s great to work in another kitchen with cooks who have a different perspective and we can learn a lot and exchange information. It helps build friendships and associations. With regard to events outside Spain since we cannot bring products in or out of the country what we are acquiring are ideas and information. Are pop up like the Hanger 7 or four hands dinners and collaborations a necessary for a chef to stay relevant? Not so much to stay relevant, or perhaps yes (every chef has their own objectives at such events). Mine is to visit the chefs that have invited me out of affection and respect for my work, enabling me to strengthen my friendships even further. From there we know that every activity has its relevance and attracts customers to Denia, which is where we implement our wonderful project.

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PUMPKIN FROM BENIGUASIL FERMENTED IN ITS OWN JUICE WITH BOLA KING CRAB


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Are events such as chef talks or food congresses making any relevant contribution to the industry or should they be replaced with a different format? Replace them? There is no need for something to die for something else to rise. We live in a very heterogeneous world. Let each choose their own list, guide, event, influencer and follow them whilst they share values and tastes. I participate in congresses because I get a very positive energy charge from all the people with whom I share information. It is very enriching and helps me connect to a lot of people. Well, there are more events around the world every day. Organized by companies, brands, the media, journalists, cooks, sommeliers‌ I think that everything is ultimately covered somewhere. Possibly there is no single event that covers everything, but that is normal because of how long these events last. WG December 2017 -

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QUIQUE DACOSTA

How do you spend your time off or a free day? Are you on the beach since you are by the shore or go into the mountains behind you? The mountains for sure if I unbelievably get a day off. On such a day and if I am in Denia which is very fortunately situated since in the same day you can be in the mountains as well as on the beach. I love to run and if you start from the mountains you can make your way to the sea and then go back up the mountains again. I don’t have many hobbies as such I like to find peace, time to relax, and to be able to spend time with my children. Observing that state of the art music system in your test kitchen with the synchronized lights, I have to ask what genre of music do you like? All kinds even some that don’t even know what category to put them in like jazz, pop, and I play it depending on the mood but not in the kitchen as I want to concentrate completely. When I am contemplating outside the main kitchen I listen to music. We play music on the terrace and lounge from DJ friends in Ibiza, Belgium and other places that are chill out music.

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THE STURGEON THE OYSTER AND THE HAND OF BUDA

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You have a great contemporary art collection as I have seen in your restaurant so are you a collector? Yes I love art and appreciate it but I don’t feel the need to buy it and own it. All my energies and resources are concentrated in my work. So I prefer to enjoy art in a museum and find it much more inspiring to visit museums rather than markets where it is on sale. Do you design any of the serve ware or plates in the restaurant? I do and also collaborate on creating them from time to time. We have been working with our university and have an ongoing project to create china which will soon be on our table. What is the most unknown trait of your personality? (I was joking!) Geeta, if I tell you that it will no longer be a secret! The thing is sometimes people have a stereotyped image of me because of what is written about me and what they read. Sometimes people perceive me as a cliché of sorts which creates a barrier between me and others, and then they don’t get to know the real me. And you know I hate talking about myself. But if someone wants to know me they are welcome to come visit and have a conversation with me. (I joked) Some people can’t stop talking about themselves, as we know. Ok, give me one more thing? I am a Capricorn!

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CAULIFLOWER RICE GUIRRA SHEEP SWEATBREADS AND CEPS MUSHROOMS

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA EDIBLE HAIKU’S WORTHY OF MICHELIN STARS PHOTO © SERGIO COIMBRA

Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa exudes serenity of a man who has found the equilibrium between passion, which in his case is cuisine, and a Zen attitude to life. Coupling Japanese culture and seasonality with French sensibility acquired through his time in Europe with chefs like Bocuse and Joel Robuchon, Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa has developed his own distinctive “Satoyama” cuisine. This unique cuisine is an ode to his Japanese culture and ancestors bridging centuries old traditions to contemporaneity. As one of Japan’s trailblazing chefs, his Narisawa restaurant in Minami Aoyama neighborhood of Tokyo has garnered international attention for his artistic depiction of natural landscapes on his plates. A visit to his table evokes the earthy aromas of nature and the harmony of seasons realized as combustible poetry. Subdued seasonings may include herbs, flowers or even charred vegetables meant to enhance his contemplative creations. One of his iconic dishes “Essence of The Forest and Satoyama Scenery” is most representative of his edible landscapes on plates with a soil of matcha, soy pulp, black tea, and bamboo representing the forest floor while edible branches are made using ten different ingredients. The ‘Bread of The Forest’ baked at the table with butter disguised as a moss-covered rock precedes courses highlighting Japanese ingredients like sea snake, seasonal ayu fish, snow crab, fugu or when in season cherry blossoms of course. Narisawa’s imaginative cuisine is literally hands on as surprised diners at this two Michelin star restaurant are instructed to use their fingers or spear food with twigs at the draped white tables. Japanese wines and unique sakes are optional pairings with the tasting menu while teetotalers have the option of tea pairings curated by a tea expert.

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

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The usually quiet, reserved chef is vocal when it comes to Japanese products and the topic of sustainability. As one of the first Japanese chefs to speak out about the use of pesticides in Japanese agriculture he has paved the way for conservation and a renewed connection to nature. He was the first recipient of the Sustainable Restaurant award by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013 for his mindful cuisine. Since 1996 he has owned and operated first the La Napoule restaurant while the present restaurant opened in 2003 as first as Les Creations de Narisawa and now simply Narisawa. Over the course of this time his style and cuisine has moved from a very French perspective towards his Japanese roots. His passion also extends to wine and consequently the restaurant uniquely showcases the finest wines produced in Japan. The two Michelin-starred restaurant has been in the top ten of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for many years and was voted #18 in 2017. On Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list it holds the #6 spot, making it the top restaurant in Japan according to the same list.

TSUBAKI & KOUJI

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

Narisawa’s familiarity with kitchens goes back to his childhood in the Aichi peninsula south of Tokyo exposing him to Japanese food culture in his grandfather’s sweet shop and the western culture in his father’s shop that relied on local dairy and eggs for its confections. Reminiscing about those days he shared: “My grandfather used to pound steamed rice to into rice cake (Mochi) at home during the New Year days, so I was always looking forward to fresh rice cake. I also liked my father’s fresh baked bread every morning and from the spring until summer I loved the Japanese sweet with Japanese mugwort (known as Yomogi in Japan, it belongs to the chrysanthemum family) picked by my father.” The Japanese sensibility of beauty and emotion ‘ mono no aware’ or pathos of things, in the case of his cuisine the transience of nature, is beautifully encapsulated in his work. The serene dining room that allows glimpses of the kitchen team in action through sliding glass doors is accompanied by seamless and attentive service.

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VIRGIN OYSTER

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

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Narisawa sits on the International Culinary Council of the Basque Culinary center in San Sebastián, Spain with the likes of celebrated chefs like Ferran Adria, Massimo Bottura, Alex Atala, Rene Redzepi, Dan Barber, Gaston Acurio, Heston Blumenthal, Enrique Olvera and others. It is worth noting that in an industry climate where transient celebrity status turns chefs into egoistical rock stars of the moment, Chef Narisawa is an example of a man with his feet on the ground, unaffected by the media hyperbole. At home in Japan or speaking or cooking at international food events he stands out for his dignified manner and humility. When not on foraging trips into the Japanese hinterland he can be found surfing the waves at Amami Ooshima Island so it’s not surprising that the surfing centric San Sebastián is one of favorite places to visit.

WINTER

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How do you bridge tradition with modernity in your kitchen? Tradition was formed over a long period of time and is actually a kind of style that was necessary for each period in history. Modernity on the other hand is a reflection of actual society and the natural environment. The style always exists so I make use of the part of the style that is necessary while at the same time I use the current technique by thinking of the future. Therefore in the kitchen tradition and modernity always coexist. Nowadays, it’s necessary to understand the tradition and its influence on the society and natural environment for the future. What brought you into the fold of the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián all the way from Tokyo? I became part of it because I believe proper education is very important for people coming into the industry. They must prepare well before going to work in a kitchen. I believe that San Sebastián is one of the most influential towns in the world in terms of Gastronomy. Anyway, I don’t think of it as very far and I have a lot of friends in that part of the world.

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INORI

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

Your restaurant was the first to win the most sustainable restaurant award by The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants List. Is the concept of sustainability new for the Japanese culture or is respect for ingredients also ingrained in the Japanese kitchen? I think using the use of the term sustainable is new to Gastronomy in Japan even if the concept has always been around. The respect for ingredients and the way products like Wagyu are raised for example with a lot of care is part of our culture. Wagyu along with Sushi is one of the most recognized elements of Japanese cuisine around the world. It is however questionable if the Sushi chefs working in Japan are aware if that they are using sustainable fish or not wasting products. I think we are still missing a lot of information and not paying attention to these aspects in Japan. We need to get more involved in these issues.

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AUTUMN

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

After Fukushima disaster in Japan is there concern about the quality of products especially GMOs? Not only because of Fukushima but I feel these days in our modern society we are more concerned with quality and effects on our body of products we consume. Using color or preservatives I feel have a far worse effect on health than anything else. Japan has a very big program regarding the GMO’s. In this process, small producers become slaves of big corporations which is unfair and must be rectified. It happens everywhere else in the world too and is a very big and complex problem that is difficult to understand or resolve. The market is controlled just like nuclear matter in a war. It is important to understand it even though it is a huge problematic issue and we need to work on it. Since chefs cook and work with products everyday are they more intimately connected with the products? How can chefs become more involved with these issues? I think every chef should use proper ingredients using their relationships with suppliers. In reality supply and demand should be equally balanced otherwise the producers especially small producers will disappear. From my perspective, large corporations and companies are the biggest negative influencers and chefs should send a message to these kinds of entities by the way they work and while choosing products to work with. Chefs should also participate in educating children to recognize the differences in products and their health benefits. Products like chips, fast food as well as convenience foods sold by big companies in supermarkets are what children often consume. It is our obligation as chefs to children to educate them so that the next generation can imbibe the proper values.

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UNI & JUNSAI

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

Do chefs with one restaurant and those multiple operations view these issues from a different angle? I don’t think it matters much how many restaurants a chef has. For me what is more important is that the chef is cooking every day. The concept of each chef may be different but cooking is what is the basis of our work. It is also important for the chef to teach their staff their concept and values and in my case what is more important to me is to learn to use the proper ingredients. Restaurants I believe should send a message out to society which is an important part of a chef’s work. Teaching is crucial to imparting values and concepts but more importantly techniques must be shared and taught.

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In your case, does having a tasting menu give you an advantage in working with seasonal ingredients? Yes it does, but of course at the same time we adapt to the client’s requirements or allergies or dietary restrictions, so it’s not the same thing for everyone dining in the restaurant.

SPRING

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

Social media makes it easy for ideas to be replicated in other kitchens. Does it have a positive impact? Social media does enable pictures of dishes to go all over in a moment. I feel it is very dangerous because it is just a picture that contains no message or the philosophy of the creator. I hope that a picture of my dish sends something more than an image. Do well-known chefs like you help make a product trendy when they choose to work with a certain ingredient? It’s all a way of thinking about products. I feel using an ingredient from say Peru in Italy or Japan is ridiculous. I feel we should use ingredients that are local and around you wherever you are. How important is animal protein in Japanese cuisine? With scarcity of products looming ahead will this result in a more vegetable based or alternative protein diet? Earlier Japanese diets did not incorporate a lot of animal protein and during those times the average life span was shorter. When animal proteins were introduced in larger quantities people started living longer. Vegetarian people are believed to have shorter lifespan I think. As for the scarcity in the future I don’t feel it is going to shift towards a vegetable based diets or menus in restaurants. Alternate proteins like insects were customary in Japan at one time during very poor conditions. I am now focusing on ingredients like sea snake, turtles because they taste good for one thing and can be used to implement change in ingredients. I demonstrated a sea snake dish at the San Sebastián Gastronomika last year though I couldn’t use a turtle as it is prohibited in Spain. Both are on the menu at Narisawa.

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SUMI 2009

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When you travel, cook and dine all over the world Is Japanese kitchen frugal and mindful regarding do you find inspiration or new ideas to bring back food waste? Do you use every part of a product? to Japan? Of course in Narisawa we don’t waste anything and every day I tell my staff that we should maximize the use of each product. In Japan, especially in Sushi restaurants, there is a lot of food wastage as they throw away the parts of fish or vegetable that they do not use. Such food waste is a recognizable problem in Japan. In our case if a product has edible parts that cannot be served to guests we use in our staff meals.

SUMMER

At the moment when I travel I am interested in learning and finding new things in the countries I visit. I like to learn something that we can emulate in Japan to exert a positive change. I am very interested now in carrying back this message to the Japanese chefs so we can all progress. For example in Sushi restaurants they stress the use of “wild fish” but they do not comprehend the dangerous situation with regard to our natural resources. They are still living with the concepts from a 100 years ago.

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

Are there any new concepts or ingredients you are working on for your next seasons menu? My concept hasn’t changed for a long time. It’s safeness, sustainability and using delicious ingredients. When I cook I am always thinking about how I can make good use of the ingredients. I like to pursue the Japanese food culture while thinking about Japanese geographic environment and culture. What are the qualities a creative cook must have and is it possible to learn to be creative or is does it have to come naturally? Knowledge of ingredients and basic techniques of cooking are essential qualities for a cook according to me. With these two qualities, one creates dishes with imagination which is unique to each individual. As for learning we can learn to be creative by observing nature, talking with other professionals, appreciating the art and listening to music traveling and learning about new cuisines. What do you like about having guest chefs your kitchen or cooking in their kitchens during collaborative dinners? Having guest chefs in our kitchen stimulates our young staff members and we learn a lot by observing how another chef works. Collaborate dinners in another kitchen are very meaningful to me because I can learn about the ingredients of different places and I really enjoy communicating with staff at these restaurants. In each restaurant, I can feel the passion of young trainees from all over the world and I enjoy answering their questions and talking with them about cooking.

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AORI’IKA & MATSUTAKE

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YOSHIHIRO NARISAWA

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What is your favorite place to travel to in Japan? Do natural landscapes interest you more? I like going in to nature especially mountains and the sea and not so much to a big city. If there are fantastic ingredients where ever I travel to then it is more interesting to me as a chef. Nature provides inspiration for a lot of my cooking and especially Japanese forests because there are still many natural and wild plants that I like to discover and cook something delicious with. Is the Japanese kitchen influenced by French cuisine or vice versa? Is your style influenced by your French training? I think so but what I myself am doing now is the opposite of this idea. I am going towards the Japanese roots. I feel it is not only just French cuisine and culture but there is a connection with other countries including Italy and China. My style, of course is influenced by France but also Italy and Spain where I have spent time. Recently I am more influenced by South American cuisine. When I initially started my career as a chef, I was influenced so many people in countries like France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Japan, so it’s a continuing process. How important are awards like Michelin or 50 Best to you? The awards encourage the producers and staffs who are working with us. If we can get a good result, it’s a fantastic reward. MOUNTAIN & SEA

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DAVID TOUTAIN

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DAVID TOUTAIN THAT’S MY LIFE PHOTO © THAI TOUTAIN

The next rising star at David Toutain restaurant in Paris is at the service every Friday night between 8:00 and 8:30. That is when young Aiden Toutain puts on his apron and clambers onto his little step stool to provide his valuable assistance to his father chef David Toutain. It is also quite probable to walk into the David Toutain restaurant before lunch service to find petite Thai Toutain, wife of David Toutain (and inhouse photographer, among other things) crouching on the floor to take a picture of her husband’s latest creation. Assisted by a staff member directing smoke from the handheld smoker, oblivious to everything else until the smiling David Toutain walked out of the kitchen stating, “That’s my life.” It is certainly an interesting time in his life as his restaurant that opened its doors in December of 2013 was awarded its first Michelin star in 2015 making it one of the most exciting and buzzed about restaurants to emerge on the Paris dining scene in recent years. Toutain, who has trained with celebrated chefs like Alain Passard at L’Arpege, Pierre Gagnaire, Marc Veyrat at La Maison du Bois, and Bernard Pacaud at L’Ambroisie, was not done learning after these stints and took off for Mugaritz, Andoni Aduriz’s acclaimed kitchen in Spain followed by Corton in New York. Toutain’s time at Mugaritz was certainly well spent, since as he honed his culinary skills he met Thai, his future wife, a chef from San Francisco, in the Mugaritz kitchen. The delightful young couple now works together with David in the kitchen and Thai taking care of guests in the elegant, warm, minimalist dining room designed by her with ecru walls, custom walnut wood tables and honeyed wood panels. Thai is assisted by a very capable team and sommelier with an attentive ear contributing to the dynamic. WG December 2017 -

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DAVID TOUTAIN

Prior to opening his own restaurant at the tail end of 2013 the young Normandy chef brought his modern concept to L’Agape Substance in Paris where he gained multitudes of followers before departing in 2012 on an Asian adventure. Toutain returned to Paris to open his restaurant in the seventh arrondissement where in record time his original cuisine has mesmerized diners and critics alike as he paints the canvass of his menus with improbable combinations of textures, flavors and tastes. The convivial chef is not averse to popping into the dining room to chat with guests at the, unusually for Paris, widely spaced tables, or bring a course to the table himself. Toutain’s book “The Cuisine of David Toutain”, is not merely a compilation of recipes but relates the story behind the evolution of this young chef and his inimitable style of fine cuisine using fresh, quality, and seasonal produce. Think ‘Wild Garlic Sponge”, “Trout with Miso”, “Smoked Eel with Black Sesame” and of course the “Cauliflower, White Chocolate” dessert when it is on the tasting menu. The attention to detail at this unique restaurant is evident not only in the carefully orchestrated progression of the tasting menu but even in the choice of serve ware and table accessories. Thai Toutain narrated the story behind the spectacular ceramics hand made for them by a Belgian ceramic artist whose creations they fell in love with at chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre’s restaurant outside Brussels. The affable couple set off en famille to order their own unique plates, striking an instant friendship with the artist and ended up spending the night at her house!

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CALAMAR CABBAGE

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DAVID TOUTAIN

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APPLE CELERY POTATO


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How did you get the news about your Michelin star, and what was your initial reaction? When I got a phone call and my first reaction was total surprise. As always a week before they are announced there is conversation in the industry and conjecture about the upcoming announcement. Even though I didn’t want to listen or be drawn into the talk it is hard to do that. I was very excited when I heard the news and before anything I was happy for my team because we are all working very hard and very focused on our work. We started as a team at this restaurant with the intention for all of us to grow together. Actually after I heard I didn’t say anything about it to anyone for a few days so I could absorb it totally. It’s good motivation and a pat on the back saying good job and keep going. Due to the rampant use of social media in the restaurant industry, a picture of your dish is out moments after it reaches the diner. Does that impact your creative process? It doesn’t affect anything really. Here we have our own small world and we don’t focus too much on what is going on outside. I like Twitter myself since its quick and easy without too much blah blah blah. I like to tell my guests to focus on what we are doing. When we work on a new plate we put our thoughts and emotions into it and we like for them to have a conversation about it. The chef cooking in the kitchen is speaking to the guest with his dish and conveying his thoughts. Do you appreciate feedback from your guests? Yes as I feel it is very important. It’s not just a product in front of them but much more, and it is a simultaneous experience between us and the guest.

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What did you take away from your time at L’Arpege with Alain Passard? My time at L’Arpege was very important for me. I was 21 when I was a chef in that kitchen and what was amazing was he gave me the opportunity like he did to many other chefs to experience his genius. What he instilled in me was when you work with a product don’t think like a person but think as if you were the product. Think about what is inside it, the flavor, the texture, the fibre. So now when I see a carrot I don’t see it as such anymore, I am thinking about its flavor, its texture, what is a good pairing for it, and how I can use all these elements. Actually now this process comes naturally to me. If we cook beef and I see a gelatin and the fibers after cooking, I immediately think about what we can do with these. You need to open your eyes to these things and think along those lines. That is how we work in this kitchen. Then there are other things I learned, for example the light in the restaurant, how the kitchen and the restaurant is organized, and all these things affect our work. Does the atmosphere, the ambiance, or the decor set a tone for the ensuing meal for a guest as they walk in the door? It is very important that a guest feels relaxed and it’s very important to me that people are happy and feel comfortable once seated at the table to enjoy their experience. When you are at the table for two or three hours you need to feel that way.

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SALSIFIS

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DAVID TOUTAIN

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BEET


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Is creativity inherent or can it be learned, developed, or taught? People ask me sometimes “How did you think of that? How did you think of pairing cauliflower and white chocolate together?” I think each chef has that dictionary in their brain about texture and flavor. Sometimes when I think of a dish I am first thinking of a season, its products, and the association between them. When I made the white chocolate, cauliflower, and coconut I had eaten something with white chocolate and coconut, I think it was a cake at Christmastime. So I thought wow this is so comforting and what I can do with it in the restaurant that is not too complicated and feels just as comforting. What is one more product I can use besides these two? I thought the link between the two is that they are both white. I needed something white and special in a vegetable. I made a list of all the white vegetables and it came to me that it was the right season for cauliflower in the markets. I thought what is the link between all three besides color and I thought of the sweetness in these. I drew a cup and starting thinking of putting elements like texture, sweetness in it to get a balanced dish. It is a very tactile process and begins this way with everything I do. The amazing thing was it worked perfectly the first time we tried out this recipe. Any experiments that haven’t worked out? I tried cockles with red pepper and pistachio and I kept working on this recipe for two weeks and in the end I stopped because I realized that it wasn’t going to work. I thought there was something I was missing in the flavor and it was not coming together.

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When you develop recipes, do you work on your own or do you work as a team? Every kitchen is different and here we are working as cooks and without a specific team to work on a recipe. What is different from when I was in Agape for example we served twenty five dishes per guest and now I serve less, just sixteen so that leaves us a little time on the side to work on new dishes and recipes. When I opened this restaurant I decided that I will do fewer dishes so I would have time to organize new recipes. Do you develop these spontaneously, as a scheduled task, based on what comes in a delivery or at the market? It depends, though I am a little bit more organized and don’t just cook off of what comes in the morning. I need time to think and process as to how I can work on it. I have very good connections with my purveyors who are all small purveyors and usually let me know if they will have duck in two weeks, or squab or a certain vegetable or fish. Then I start thinking ahead sometimes though if we need a certain amount of fish we find in the morning that it’s not available then I have a list of what to get instead. We know the base of the fish we want here and we work around that. This morning we didn’t get the crabs we wanted, so we made salmon instead. So it was an on spot decision? No, we organize in such a way that we can ask if instead of that product do they have the next choice on our list and so on. We usually have three options just in case. When we work with small producers like our small fishermen, it is only human for such things to happen. What is good in our menus is that nothing is detailed so we can play within it a little bit.

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DAVID TOUTAIN

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RISOTTO CELERY ROOT


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Normally we do a trout with crispy potato around it and this morning the trout was not very good so we don’t have it on the menu all day today. This is like what would happen at Mugaritz. If we had only ten portions of something then that was it. This is how we organize ourselves and work here and before we print the menus every day we know exactly how many portions or quantity we have. With so many great restaurants in Paris, is there competition between them to acquire the best products? No, we are fortunate to have access to enough good products for everyone. It is not a competition but sometimes there can be a problem since we have almost the same purveyors. So in one month everyone wants trout for example and it is on everyone’s menu. So we speak to each other about making sure the guest does not end up with similar dishes at different restaurants. Is there a camaraderie or community between the young chefs in Paris? It is amazing because I have good friends who are chefs but we all do totally different food. My chef friends at restaurants like Akrame, Septime, Saturne, Meurice, and Chateubriand all make different food. Every restaurant in Paris is different and that makes it interesting for guests visiting or local people dining out. It is wonderful to be a diner in Paris now because there is amazing food available at all price points and the chefs who worked at two or three-starred Michelin restaurants have gone on to open smaller and simpler restaurants serving wonderful food. WG December 2017 -

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You also worked with Pierre Gagnaire. What did you learn during your time with him? I learned respect, not to be afraid to do your own food, and when you create something to be proud of it. He is a genius and has been creating wonderful food for over thirty years and is just as strong as ever. Gagnaire is a great example and an inspiration for young chefs who think, “If he did it, I can do it and I just need to believe in myself.” It is hard to be that way though and not everyone appreciates it. You can have people at adjoining tables eat the same dishes and yet their experience is entirely different. Working with him was one of the best experiences of my life and I grew a lot with him. He does not talk much about himself or his work and he does not have to because he is so special and unique. Did you know that he likes to paint? He is a true artist. Artists are special as they impart a different artistic touch to everything that they do. So should cuisine evoke emotions and affect intellect? I hope mine does because I try to create that way but I really want the guests to have a good time. Sometimes people comment that, “Wow you have used a lot of techniques!” but I don’t want it to be like that. I don’t need to explain how long or with what technique I cooked the fish, asparagus, etc. It should be great in taste. Sometimes menus have such detailed descriptions. What is your opinion about that? I was never like that with my menus. I like it to say eggs, corn, fish, or whatever ingredient and that is it. Most people just don’t need that information and if they want more they will ask questions. We can speak for one hour about it but the guest just wants to enjoy the dish with good service. Service can be very different at each of the fifteen tables here because some people are here for a business lunch while another table came all the way from Tokyo to eat here. You have people coming with different reasons and we have to respect that.

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You have traveled and worked in different parts of the world. Is there a city or country that you are partial to? Truthfully I don’t have a particular place that I like more. I am so fortunate to have traveled and visited so many places and I am happy when I leave Paris and even happier when I come back. I am always excited to leave but after I few weeks ready to come home. What about great meals? Hard to pick a favorite but I have had amazing food in Japan and then other parts of Asia and China. It was interesting and different, and I love California, and I am also happy when I go to New York. I have friends there, the small hangouts from the days I lived there and some great friends. I have good friends everywhere even in Copenhagen as my life has taken me to so many places. My friend David Fischer, Rasmus Kofoed, and Nicolai of Kadeau in Copenhagen for example, and it’s wonderful to see them, we eat together and hang out. Is this a new generation of chefs because such sharing of ideas and information did not happen in previous generations? We all share and exchange ideas freely. If I go somewhere and love something I eat there I will ask for the contact of the purveyor, and the same goes for those who ask me. The knowledge of purveyors or connections came to me during the course of my work and some of them like my chicken purveyor are very small producers and it’s very hard for them to be profitable, so if I can only use ten chickens and if she has more then I will help out by asking another restaurant, say Le Meurice, if they can use the rest. ASPARAGUS

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There was a time when only the Michelin guide was important, and now we have the World’s 50 Best lists and others as well. Any thoughts on these lists? I think they are good for the business and recognize good restaurants, and it’s interesting to see the impact of these when I travel. For me the Michelin is still important because of the story and history behind it and the respect for the chef. It is a great distinction for a chef and maybe more precise than being one of the 50 Best in the world. Michelin is very personal too, and going to a restaurant with Michelin stars even if it is not on the 50 Best is still a special experience. I do appreciate the recognition by the 50 Best and work with them. Essentially different guides and lists work for different people and what they looking for. For me when I am in a new city, I tend to ask my friends for recommendations. I went to LA and didn’t refer to any guide but just asked Ludo Lefebvre to suggest restaurants. In Tokyo I left it to my friend Gillaume from Troisgros to make suggestions. When friends come here to Paris I do the same when they ask me.

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HONEY MILK


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Where would you send me in Paris? I would suggest many from a small bistro Pottoka just five blocks away, to Cobea, Akrame, Septime, L’Arpege, and Pierre Gagnaire of course! Food is like family, and the world is very small. Would you consider going international or opening multiple restaurants? It was very hard for me to open one (laughing) so I can’t think of more right now. I don’t think I am going to have that many proposals. All my life I have seen that this business is unpredictable. It’s like a building and the most important part of building is the foundation. So if you have a good foundation you can build to great heights on that and it can be one floor or thirty. As long as you have built a strong base you can add on top. You can only build as many floors as your base will hold and for now I am just building that base and that foundation, and I believe you never know what’s coming next in life so I am not thinking that far ahead. It takes that time to organize and build and grow. WG December 2017 -

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RODOLFO GUZMÁN There are many theories about how the country of Chile got its name, one being that it is derived from a Native American word for “ends of the earth.” Looking at a world map Chile appears as a narrow ribbon bordering Peru, Bolivia and Argentina whittling down to a point at Cape Horn. Next stop, Antarctica! Widely known for its biological diversity, it also has varied terrain and a medley of climates. Added to that is an interesting mix of cultures due to a largely migrant population resulting in a unique food culture. No one could have predicted ten years ago that it would become a gastronomic destination and instead of adventurous tourists and cruisers en route to the Antarctic island there would be gastro tourists trying to snag reservations at restaurants such as Chef Rodolfo Guzmán’s Borago in Santiago. The eleven year old Borago restaurant and the team led by Guzmán has been steadily climbing up in best of lists and earning international recognition and acclaim . The young personable chef who trained at Mugaritz in Spain with Andoni Aduriz, no less, has placed Chile squarely on the international gastronomic map and it is now the top restaurant in the country. Guzmán worked at Mugaritz during its early years when chef Aduriz and team would be gazing expectantly down the long winding road in the Basque countryside in hopes of customers to cook for. Not surprisingly more than just culinary skills Guzmán took the lessons of perseverance, patience and hard work with him home to Chile and opened Borago in the Vitacura district of Santiago. It has not been an easy journey but a worthwhile one allowing Guzmán to develop his very distinct culinary concept. At Borago minimalist decor plays off the seasonal menus featuring produce sourced from the Andes, Patagonia and the coast. Recently the Atacama Desert has attracted the attention of Guzmán and his team who have now extended their foraging and research expeditions into this thus far gastronomically unexplored territory.

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As a father of three young children, Guzmán admits he has a vested interest in researching and preserving the bio diversity of Chile for future generations. Ongoing teamwork with neurologists, psychologists and nutritionists leads to constant changes of concepts and treatment of products in the Borago test kitchen, eventually working its way onto plates served to guests. It is apparent that Guzmán, not bound by any dogmas, is very receptive to new ideas and consequently very flexible, constantly striving to learn and evolve, a common trait of creative minds. According to you is formal training is necessary for a cook or can they just cook from their heart? I feel that cooking is more about emotions, feelings, thoughts and memories and some part of it is related to the arts. Cooking is not officially an art but I feel all cooks are artisans and at some levels it is an intellectual process. It has to come from deep within you and representative of humanity and something we all experience in our lives. We pass it on through generations like a story. Experience makes you better just like a Japanese master who perfects his craft for years but the learning process in this field is very deep, ambiguous and wide and that makes it difficult to say whether you should or should not train. Knowledge gained makes you better because you can help transform traditions which tend to become stagnant otherwise. Whether with training or not it is still possible to cook well and I don’t think of myself as a super trained cook anyway.

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TERNERA DE PARRAL


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What is unique about Borago? Should diners be ready for the unexpected? I have thought our guests experience new flavors which are new to them and they have no prior food memories of. Our ingredients are unique, super seasonal and expose them to novel concepts and make dining here a unique experience. Your cooking style has been described as one of reviving ancient techniques and using traditional and forgotten ingredients. How are you linking these old stories to new stories on your plates? I want to specify that it is what we are trying to do whether we are successful in this or not we don’t know. The restaurant opened eleven years ago in a country that has influences from every culture that came here. At that time we were adapting to influences and products from other cultures and ignoring our own. The indigenous Mapuchas are one of the oldest native cultures in South America having been around 12400 years or so, long before the Spaniards or the Incas. In 2006 at Borago we began by concentrating on products growing in specific areas of Chile, a part of our Mapuche heritage. Most of our recipes are based on native ingredients so we are looking back in time while moving forward. We want to say we are Chileans and we have a diversity of ingredients with a lot of possibility behind them. We started doing a tasting menu based only on these ingredients and ancient cooking methods of Mapuches, real Chilean preparations. WG December 2017 -

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Are these ingredients seasonal? Yes some of them grow only for a few months or weeks or maybe even one week during the year. We wait for these to appear for very traditional preparations. We work with over 200 small producers and foragers to supply us through a huge chain. I traveled a lot all over the country and built relationships with these people, some of whom are Mapuches. When you come to the restaurant you don’t see these people but the truth is without them we cannot prepare or serve the food that we do. While exploring this biodiversity of the Chilean landscape is there risk of over using or exploiting some of these products or species? There are so many things involved in this process and you have to be very responsible, work with the right people and be very conscious of the impact on the environment and ecosystem. Fortunately here in Chile the seafood is well protected and regulated by law. We have a huge sustainable movement. In order to have these resources in the future we are very protective. How are you incorporating these ancient cooking practices in your cuisine? We are not pretending to cook like they did 2000 years ago. We have a very contemporary approach to food and all we are doing is moving these techniques from the past to the present.

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ROCAS Y PESCADO DE ROCA


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Are you and your team collecting ingredients while hiking and exploring on a regular basis? I know that today it’s a very trendy thing to go and forage but we do it for a purpose in order to bring the flavors of the landscape to the plate. We are trying to show what Chile and Chilean food is about. One day we could be at 3000 meters and the next day down at the beach or in the forest. There is a lot of culture behind the use of these ingredients. I want to specify that it’s not about where our house is but about the content of our restaurant no matter where it is located. We are constantly learning and exploring for these ingredients which is the future of our planet as we run out of resources. You think tapping these unused resources or ingredients will be important in the near future? Yes because we have to find alternate ways to feed us and our children. We cannot keep using the same fish from the ocean as they are disappearing and strangely Mapuches were eating seaweed which is an amazing food source all along. The future of our planet is raw plants and we have to adapt. The waters of the Pacific off our coast are very pristine and the quality of our seafood is amazing. I feel that people around the world are not aware of what Chile is about. Why the interest in the Atacama Desert? According to me and our team it is the next frontier and the beginning of a new Chilean food revolution. There are ingredients growing at 30005000 meters that we had no idea about. These ingredients are perfect for regular recipes and can be thrown into whatever you are cooking. By using these we can help a lot of indigenous communities to survive economically who are foraging these and bringing them to Santiago. The bonus is that these products are delicious and have health benefits. WG December 2017 -

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As a parent what concerns you about the scarcity of resources in the future? I ask the question, “What is food about? Do we really know enough about food?” I feel we still don’t know much about food and need to learn more. There are challenging times coming up for the world and for Chile where I live and we really need to comprehend this. At the restaurant we try to cook delicious food with these original ingredients while learning more about them. We are not pretending to be a special restaurant but just trying to be honest with ourselves. I would say the learning process for us is super important. Are you investigating the health aspects of ingredients in your test kitchen? We have been learning a lot from our associations with biologists, doctors, archaeologists etc. it is the only way to evolve and become knowledgeable about what we are aiming for in our taste. As a cook you evolve from knowing nothing to learning basics of cooking like baking bread, cooking fish, meat or vegetables. That is the first evolution and the second is when you become a parent and start questioning if something is healthy to ingest. These are the questions that we try to learn and investigate for the future. We work with an amazing ecologist who has taught us a lot and as a result of what we learned from her we no longer serve raw mushrooms since 2013 so I can say we are constantly evolving.

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PIEL DE PIURE


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In the quest for novelty or publicity, by introducing outrageous or extreme proteins are chefs ignoring these health consequences or not doing adequate investigation before introducing these on their menus? It is a real concern that we need to look at while finding alternative foods in order to feed growing populations. The biggest challenge I feel is going to be to learn more about the foods we are reintroducing that have a history of being healthy and safe to use. The indigenous people lived long healthy lives based on these foods. We don’t just go out and pick things that will look good on a plate; we question everything and are aware of the risks. You can die from eating a wrong mushroom picked up in a forest. At least in the sea you don’t find dangerous or poisonous seaweed or fish. I feel it is almost as if the sea is telling us to find our food in the water. Are the younger chefs more receptive to using these unknown or new ingredients? The older generation is certainly more cautious about new ingredients. I feel that as cooks we should be able to cook delicious food using any available ingredients. In the future I feel we are going to pay more attention to the sea and look for more of our food there. The plant based diet is also going to become more important in our future. WG December 2017 -

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Are cultural influences an impediment in this food revolution or evolution process and do you see this resistance in your restaurant? Of course we do. It’s a mental thing for example a Japanese guest in our restaurant has a different experience from an Argentinian. Their cultural preferences and context are different and they have different food memories. There is no such food that we don’t really like it’s just that we have preconceived idea about it and have decided not to like or eat it. We need to be open to experiment and if you get used to seaweed you will find a new world of taste. Seaweed is all about umami! In Chile we have more kinds of seaweed than anywhere else and there is a wide range of flavors, textures and taste. We have to learn how to treat them to get the best out of them. We are fortunate that our guests come prepared to taste and enjoy what we serve them and are ready for a new experience. You have cooked and trained in many places, but who has influenced your work the most? For me to have the opportunity to work with Andoni Aduriz at Mugaritz was a big influence and good training. I started to explore and do many different things and people now talk about foraging etc. but we were foraging in the Basque countryside in 2004 when I was there. I have to say the biggest influence not only in my kitchen but on my whole life has been the Mapuche culture.

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CREMOSO DE ISLA NEGRA

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CHUPE DE HONGOS


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What proportion of your guests is local and how many are international since now you have a lot of Gastro tourists coming to Chile? We were experiencing ups and downs till 2012 but now it is a new experience for us to be busy all the time. Borago was a new kind of restaurant even for Chileans and not really given a lot of attention by gastronomic journalists. Chileans are now very proud of our venture and it is a really cool phenomenon locally. All the international media attention is of course drawing a lot of people to Borago now. In the months of June and July 80% of our guests can be Chilean and while in our summer maybe 60% are international and 40% local. Do guests sometimes request alternative courses and are you open to modifying dishes to ensure a positive dining experience? It’s very simple for us since though we want to challenge them we don’t want to push them too far. Essentially we are cooking not for ourselves but for our guests and to please them. We ask for information about allergies and if you don’t like something. An example is sea urchins; though we have the most amazing quality of sea urchins do you know that Chileans traditionally do not eat them. We have to give them a taste to let them know what they are missing. Once in a while me or one of our chefs will go to the table and request them to give it a go. The next thing you know is they regret not having tasted them before. WG December 2017 -

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So you are on a quest to open people’s minds and palate with your food? Of course! It’s delightful to see the pleasure and surprise on their faces when they experience a new taste and love it. How do you build your tasting menus? Do you follow the usual format or progression of entrees, mains, and dessert?

STICK DE MAR

Not at all. We were questioning many aspects of eating and dining and we are not serving tasting menus because we wanted to but it’s something that happened very naturally. We had an a la carte menu that our guests decided to do away with since people were coming here to eat food made exclusively with our Chilean ingredients. We are trying to question why dessert has to have sugar or why it has to be the last part of a meal. Instead of this structure we prefer to have umami and use it to replace sugar in ice cream and it is still as exciting. So why not dessert and pre-dessert at the beginning of a meal? The Mapuches ate sweet at the beginning of a meal so we are relating to that. Our menu progression is based around flavors, composition and story. You have a test kitchen. How big is your research team that works there? We are normally five people there, and including stagiares maybe seven. I spend most of my day in the test kitchen. The rhythm of the kitchen downstairs in the restaurant is based on what happens in the test kitchen. We host a project here were we work with scientists etc. to compile a natural resource reference book for Chile. We are going to put this knowledge in very humble books that all restaurants can have to use.

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YCHILENITO DE HONGOS DE QUINTAY


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What is changing in the Chilean food scene? Chilean cooks are taking pride in our culture, our ingredients. This is a revolution of sorts and something that never happened before as we are delving deep into our own culture. We are getting more involved with the situation of food in the future and looking at things differently than thirty years ago. I have to say even I never dreamt that one day people will be traveling to Chile only to eat! Is your placement in the best of lists or participation in food events like Gelinaz helping to raise the profile of Chilean gastronomy internationally?

LA BRIGADE AU TRAVAIL

Of course it is responsible in a big way. Chile is the last country in Latin America and super far away from every other place and I can only speak for myself and the reality of this might be different for other people but it is a good thing to happen for Chile and for us. The Michelin guide has not come to Chile so these events bring us attention. It is very positive since people now want to come from everywhere to experience our food. Is the Chilean government supportive in promoting gastronomy like PromPeru or the tourism boards in other countries? They do but not as much as Peru. Chile is strong economically for being a small country with 16 billion people so it is a different situation. Gastronomy is a new aspect of the economy so it is taking time to develop but the government is putting in the effort. Food is becoming huge and we are big exporters of food so there are many opportunities for us.

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MOURAD LAHLOU

MOURAD LAHLOU THE JOURNEY FROM TRADITION TO MODERNITY PHOTO © ERIC WOLFINGER

The world first heard about this chef from Morocco in the late nineties when he began unleashing his bold flavors on diners at his restaurant in the Bay Area. The Marrakesh native first came to the US as a student of macroeconomics aiming to establish a career foundation for his future. To the consternation of his family he then gave it all up to start cooking food relying solely on his food memories, a very intuitive palate and nonexistent professional training. The San Francisco restaurant industry is challenging at best with its concentration of some of the most competent culinary talents in the country but Lahlou dived in with a confidence fueled by a pure passion for cooking. Acquiring most of his skill on the job he has been fortunate to draw on an invaluable resource, his friend Harold McGee. The American author has a Demigod status with cooks around the world for his book “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of The Kitchen”, that holds answers to most cooking conundrums confronting cooks. The self-taught chef has acquired more than tattoos up his arms since, now his flavor bombs implode on diner’s palates, never overwhelming with spices but deftly piling subtle layers of flavors that leave them craving more. Lahlou’s food has a unique soul reflective of this very down to earth and friendly man who epitomizes hospitality. His boundless energy was an asset when he won the Food Network’s Iron Chef Challenge. Lahlou has shared his modern Moroccan outlook in his cookbook “Mourad: New Moroccan” published in 2011. As an ardent supporter of the Bocuse d’ Or team USA he is part of the screening process for candidates representing the team and fundraising events for its mentor programs.

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Chef’s cooking ethnic cuisines have to justify their cooking to diners arriving with preconceived notions making it an uphill battle to put their own stamp on their traditional cuisines. Lahlou opened his first restaurant Kasbah 1998, closing it to open the ground-breaking Aziza in 2001 which racked up the first Michelin star for a Moroccan restaurant followed by a more contemporary Mourad. The upscale restaurant that opened its doors in early 2015 is a vast open space with a suspended wine cellar befitting its extensive wine collection and a bar that serves up cocktails with a twist like Clove and Hibiscus or Saffron and Honey. As for the food, the moment the fresh baked bread accompanied by vibrant dips appear on the table and the flavors of steaming couscous, lamb shoulder, roast meats and spices waft around the room guests are already making plans for the next visit. Within a few months of its opening the restaurant earned its first Michelin star and with Chef Lahlou’s expert remix of tradition and modernity more stars are on the horizon. Was it an impulsive move to give up a predictable career for cooking? My family did not understand why I would come all the way across the world to cook for other people. For me it was a choice of staying in a field or a miserable job that would not give me any joy. It was never my intent to go into this industry and in a way, I just stumbled upon it. I had never worked for a chef and the first time I ordered a fish in to the restaurant and didn’t even know where to order it from. That was the first phase and then breaking down the fish when it arrived was a revelation. WG December 2017 -

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Is that when you develop your own methodology and style? Yes, because it all has to make sense to you and then you have to believe in yourself and the way you do things. At the end of the day it was about re-inventing the wheel but at the same time it was re-inventing your own wheel. Breaking down the fish was a process and I also became very aware of not wasting any part of it and where I come from in our culture we don’t waste anything. You have now become active in this area? Yes, I am now part of an organization called FPA (Food Positive Action) and we work to reduce food waste in America. It turns out that 40% of food produced in the country goes to waste every day. I remember growing up in Morocco when we would buy a kilo of lamb to feed 12 people while her it feeds 2 or 3. Is that why ethnic cuisines are more creative, enhancing flavors with spices because such abundance does not exist in those parts of the world? Absolutely! When we present a dish in Morocco a big platter is placed in the middle of the table and it’s usually the tougher cuts like shoulder and leg, stuff that takes a lot of time to cook are used. We take the shoulder and braise it for hours so most of the flavor goes into the sauce serving it with the meat in the middle and a pile of vegetables on top and the sauce around it. It is not considered polite to go into the middle of the platter first but you have to work your way in by first eating the bread with the sauces and then the vegetables before finally going to the meat. That is how we could feed a lot of people with small portion of meat.

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You have a close relationship with Harold Mcgee who is a mentor for self-taught chefs like us with his books. Has that helped change your perspective on food? I have known him for over 15 years and that man’s perspective on food is so fresh and so cool, in fact he way is cooler than any of the cool chefs out there. I don’t care about cook books but I stand by his book as its really valuable resource for me. I am a coffee fanatic and I became such a snob when it came to coffee so once I related all the choices we had to him. . His response was that he was not in on this new trend for coffee saying that he still liked the old-fashioned coffee. I asked if it was the kind that sits in a pot for two hours, tastes stale and burnt. He said it was and he liked that way and I thought it was phenomenal. Is it because when he was growing up this trendiness did not exist? I feel that it’s about a memory. To me food is all about a memory like in Morocco a great chef is not necessarily one who can take a piece of squash and make something utterly different or unique. It is rather someone who can make food which the second you smell it or look at it or put it in your mouth it transports you into the past. If a chef can make you relate to your past then he or she has done a good job. In Morocco chefs are preservers of tradition. WG December 2017 -

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Are cooks and chefs relating their own memories and stories through their food? Yes, and when I came here it was the opposite. The best chefs are the ones who can take a piece of cauliflower and marry it with chocolate or confit it in duck fat or do this and that to it. For me I have never tasted that and it might taste great but I cannot relate to it. I want to feel that when I eat something it reminds me of the way my grandmother made it or that is the best couscous that I have ever had. In Morocco for our meal on Friday my great grandmother used to roll couscous on Tuesday, dry it on Wednesday, steam and serve it to us on Friday. Those are the memories I want to preserve. Have those taste memories stood the test of time? Can we can revisit them time and again to relive experiences? I have to admit when I go back now that some of those dishes are mediocre at best. Sometimes the memory is stronger than the actual facts around it or whether the food is fundamentally solid, delicious or tasty. Memories are sometimes tastier than reality. Of course a certain smell like that of bread being baked at the bakery sets off nostalgia. Every morning before I left for school the dough was dropped off with the baker who knew everyone by their trays of dough. I remember getting out of high school at noon to pick up the bread and taking it home for lunch. It was a daily routine but I distinctly remember that smell.

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Moroccan food not only has taste but also a lot of color as well, but are the flavors always bold? Moroccan food is not meant to be subtle where you have to look for flavor. The way way we Moroccans are wired is that before you put something in your mouth you are supposed to touch it with your fingers, you feel the heat, the texture. You feel if it’s soft, or slippery, or crispy before you even put it into your mouth. You have a connection with it and when you bring it closer to your mouth you smell it and once you put it in your mouth you have all these sensations going on. Food is becoming more of an intellectual process whereas I feel you have to know the story before you can even experience it. Chefs and restaurants are stressing use of locally produced ingredients. Where do you stand on that? Alice Waters is perceived as the voice of modern American cuisine and the proponent of the concept of local which is a beautiful concept. If you visit her restaurant a large proportion of her menu and wine list is from places like Italy or France. Even the sparkling water is from Europe, anchovies from Spain, the olive oil and Parmesan cheese and capers from Italy, molasses from Greece but the carrots are local. So does that qualify as local? We are in a position where we can make food tasty while supporting the local products. However we need to improve other things so show me one producer who can make Parmesan better locally. I am doing a disservice to my customers by using an inferior product that probably costs more just because it is local. WG December 2017 -

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Is American food culture becoming more homogeneous with even the food sources listed on the menus? There are many factors contributing to that and it’s not just the chef’s like the ideology of buying food from certain farmers. This became so powerful after the Chez Panisse movement to the point that if you were not buying your beets from such and such producer, or your broccoli or strawberries from a specific farmer, then something was amiss. All this focus was on just these few selected farms who were struggling to sell earlier but now they were pressured to produce more to keep up with the demand. Then over time the taste was lost and before you knew it people were listing the source of produce on their menus just as a PR sell. The second issue is labor and even if you went to really good restaurants they could not afford to have such leveraged food and they simultaneously needed to rely on simplicity. In San Francisco, we don’t have a lot of cooks anymore and the margins are so slim anyway, so if you lose a person in the kitchen you can’t afford to train a new one who you might have to pay more to put in their place. They come in and are not so skilled to begin with making it necessary to make the food simple.

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Young cooks focus on resume building had them flitting from place to place and in this process, does training fall by the wayside? The craftsmanship in this industry is diminishing day by day. Nobody has the patience, will or the desire to perfect something as basic as trimming asparagus. We have had people present us with resumes with so many places on it that we don’t even touch them. The first thing people say when they come to interview is that they are looking for a home but in reality, they are looking for a book of recipes and to observe what we do with no intentions of staying on. If all they want are recipes then the Internet has billions of them even for mac n cheese there are about 1.7 billion recipes out there. I want someone who knows the intricate balance between well done and perfectly done food and not many people have that. WG December 2017 -

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Nowadays you see people on the phone while they are eating, no hugs, no looking at each other. When I first arrived I missed not just the voices but the smells, the light, the flavors and tastes. That is when I started cooking from those memories, working recreate from memories of the taste. Eventually it became my version of what I remember though initially it was a disastrous process lacking flavor, not balanced but I would repeat the process till I got it right. When we first opened our restaurant in 1996 my obsession and fascination was with creating the dishes from Morocco in the US. I was very rigid about what was appropriate and what was not. I did a decent job at that and it was tasty, profound and layered. One time I tried to replicate a very simple sandwich I ate back home. It was a bread bun with cream cheese, hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, cumin, salt, and harissa drizzled over it. It used to make me so happy to get one for 25 cents and the vendor would make right there at his stall and it was so satisfying to eat. I tried to make it here with the best products using the same ingredients but it would not taste the same and I couldn’t figure out why. It dawned on me when I went back home and to the same guy and ordered one. When I took a bite it was mesmerizing again and I realized it was not just the sandwich but everything around me, the sounds, Is your food your own version of Moroccan cuisine the smoke in the air, the smells, and the fact that I and different from the traditional version? could sit down on the sun warmed ground at night. I realized that the food I was making in America When I first came here I had no idea how far had no soul and people were eating it because it Morocco was even geographically from the US. I was different. was so homesick and missed everything that had made my life so joyful in Morocco but I had no I came back and said the food we are making has idea what brought me that joy. The picking up the no sense of place in the middle of the Bay Area. We bread at noon after dropping it off in the morning, were busy and doing well so everyone said why do the snacks in the afternoon or the dinner. Daily you want to mess with a good thing. I said it didn’t breakfast where the same characters in my family make any sense for us as cooks to keep doing it would be arguing about the lunch menu. I realized and so we are going to change things around. It much later that it was the glue that made us stick was 2001 and we decided to cook from our own perspective from then on. together.

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Was it challenging? It was really hard but once we decided all these doors opened up and we could use all these ingredients that were around us but we never used earlier because we didn’t have them in Morocco. We could use a green strawberry to bring acid to a dish or even pickle it instead of a conventional ripe strawberry. It opened our horizons and we have never looked back since. Is it more satisfying for you as a cook to have that freedom? It is more honest for sure. I came to this country when I was seventeen and I am 49 now so I have lived over three decades here. Of the time I lived in Morocco I probably don’t even remember half of it, so for me to say that I am going to make traditional Moroccan food is a lie. What I am cooking right now is the food that I like to eat for example the roast chicken on the menu is like the roast chicken that I had when I first came here. It blew me away with its simplicity and taste where you could actually taste the chicken. In Morocco, the whole chicken with all its parts goes in a pot with spices to make a stew. . So what I have tried to do is marry the two and now I break it down, brine it in the same spices as used in the tagine, then we air chill it and then roast it. In it I can taste the flavors from the tagine but have a juicy chicken in the end. I feel if I had never allowed myself to think outside the box I would never have been able to make a dish like that. WG December 2017 -

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If an ethnic chef does that, for example if I use soy sauce, I am a sellout. We are supposed to be doing only buffet style food that costs $9.95. I say that is racist and not representative of that cuisine. They are passing judgement on a culture and its cuisine based on a buffet experience. When I started, people had a perception of what I am supposed to be doing and I obliged initially. American chefs are allowed a lot of leeway with experimentation and are considered geniuses for doing so. When ethnic chef’s do so we are believed to be ruining the culture. Why are the same rules and standards not applied to us? It makes sense to incorporate influences from outside at times for any chef regardless of the type of cuisine. How can ethnic chef’s break through these barriers? We ethnic chefs are at a disadvantage for sure. To change this I feel we need be true to ourselves. We should cook the food that we want to cook and it doesn’t have to be done just to be cool You don’t need to emulate what your colleagues are doing or what Joan Roca is doing. You should not be forced to take your cuisine and culinary treasures and force them into a mold that doesn’t fit. That leads to the worst kind of cooking but instead you can take what you do and your inclination and blend When you change a traditional cuisine you also get them into a new way of cooking. If it speaks to you a lot of negative comments. Do you still experience in a certain way you should be allowed to do that. that? Our cuisine is ancient and has evolved over a There is a huge problem regarding this as I time period two thousand times longer than other discovered in America. When chef’s like David cuisines and goes in a circle. America is brand Kinch or Daniel Patterson both white Americans new and been around comparable to a sneeze cook food heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine in other cultures. It’s still trying to find its true legs they are perceived as visionaries for using cross compared to the Egyptian, Indian or Chinese cultural influences. A whole meal at many fine cultures. It’s more of a chaos with all these cultures restaurants can feel like you are in Japan with the coming together and may take 500 or 1000 years ingredients, treatment but we never question it to have a culinary voice. Right now, that voice is a combination of sounds from everywhere. because the flavors are there.

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MITSUHARU TSUMURA Photos ©Jose Caceres

Some of the best cooking happening in Lima, the gastronomic hub of Peru these days is likely at Maido. Chef owner Mitsuharu Tsumura is the leading proponent of Nikkei style of cuisine. The buzz about this singular cuisine from Peru has been building leading to the recognition of Nikkei as a bona fide culinary concept in the last decade. Peru is a unique melting pot of cultures with migrant populations from China, Japan, Italy, Africa, Spain, and Mexico resulting in a cuisine with nuances and flavors from all these areas. This Japanese Peruvian style of cuisine owes its origins to the Japanese farm workers who migrated here to work in the sugarcane fields. It masterfully blends Peruvian ingredients to traditional Japanese techniques. There are many critics of the best of lists but in the case of a country like Peru phenomenal culinary talents like Mitsuharu Tsumura would have remained hidden from most food enthusiasts if not for them. In 2017 Maido ranked at # 1 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list and #8 in the world’s 50 Best Restaurants. It is food events like Mistura the biggest food festival held annually in Lima or the cultish Gelinaz events that help shine the spotlight on talents like Tsumura. WG December 2017 -

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The young chef’s phenomenal cuisine has a heart and soul in it with unforgettable taste and flavors. While a couple of Peruvian chefs are always in the news this young chef has been quietly perfecting his art, overtaking them in the last few years with explosions of taste and flavor at his tables. While he does source ingredients that represent the bio diversity of the region it’s not in your face kind of information about ecosystems and personal philosophies. That trend has gone as far as it can go and is uninteresting and exhausting for an average diner to comprehend. Maido was recently refurbished and a private dining room has been added upstairs but the space is as warm and welcoming as always.

CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN, PACHIKAY SAUCE. RICE SENBEI, REGIONAL SAUSAGE, ROASTED PLANTAIN, SACHATOMATE EMULSION

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The traditional Japanese greeting from the moment guest steps off the stairs leading up into the restaurant sets the tone for the experience. Maido offers both a traditional Japanese and a Nikkei menu with an option of pairings of wine, sake or non-alcoholic beverages but the tasting menu is the way to go. The snacks that arrive at the table like black rice cracker with octopus or an onion terrine with sole tartare, a mackerel ceviche with leche de Tigre awaken the palate. On a recent visit, delicious sea urchin rice, cassava soba and especially the choripan, a squid hot dog atop a minuscule bun, left me wanting many more. (Note to chef: these should at least come as duos)


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In his mid-thirties, Tsumura has a passion and clear focus for cuisine that took him to the Johnson & Wales University on Rhode Island followed after graduation by a rigorous training for two years in Osaka, Japan where his family hails from. He started there at the bottom, cleaning dishes and sharpening knives before making it to the sushi station. After returning home to Lima, bankrolled by his father, the 28-year-old opened Maido, now the top Nikkei restaurant in the world. Often seen hobnobbing with guests in the dining room with its rope canopy displaying flags of Peru and Japan, his passion for his work and humility are apparent. When we spoke about humility he said, “I believe it’s the element that keeps you growing. You have to always be ready to start from zero and keep learning and continuing to evolve.” Last year he opened Sushi Pop a casual delivery based concept that he hopes to expand with several locations. His fare is now available at his new restaurant recently opened at the MGM in Macau. In his book “Nikkei es Peru” released in 2013, he tells the back-story of the emergence and prominence of his cuisine in the culinary landscape of Peru.

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Nikkei cuisine has gained popularity worldwide recently. As one of the main proponents of this cuisine, do you feel that it’s well represented? Truthfully, I haven’t seen it much, but the ones I know are like Albert Adria’s Pakta in Barcelona which I count as one of my top dining experiences. I should say it was mind blowing because it had the Nikkei with true Japanese and Peruvian flavors. I have been to Chotto Matte in Soho, London where I saw a very interesting interpretation of this cuisine in sushi with Peruvian flavors. Some of these places have achieved a surprising level of flavor and techniques and Nobu Matsuhisa I would say is one of the pioneers of this style of cuisine in the world. I have seen others though I would not call them Nikkei restaurants in themselves but there are other Peruvian restaurants like LaMar in Miami. It’s a Peruvian ceviche restaurant but with a Nikkei chef at the helm. At restaurants in Miami or San Francisco you also find the Japanese influence within this Peruvian concept.

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Are Japanese or Nikkei cuisines meshing together with Peruvian cuisine? Yes, and you find many Nikkei dishes on the menu of a Peruvian restaurant and in restaurant like CevicheUK and Lima Floral or Lima London the concepts have been described as Latin American. They all serve Peruvian cuisine but a very wide ranging concept and when you go through the menu you find there are many Nikkei sauces or dishes included. I believe that Nikkei has now become not only a Peruvian concept but a intrinsic part of Peruvian cuisine. Along with ceviche there is tiradito which is a Nikkei dish. Japanese Peruvian dishes are found on Peruvian menus for example the popular causa dish comes with a tuna tartare and a ponzu or soy sauce from the Nikkei cuisine.

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FREJOLES ANDINOS


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A few years ago, there was talk of Peruvian cuisine as the one to watch. In your opinion, has the focus shifted to the Nikkei version of Peruvian cuisine? I feel what is booming in the world is the ceviche, ceviche bars or tigers milk (Leche de Tigre) which are hugely popular. Every single Peruvian restaurant in the world will serve you ceviche as well as Nikkei dishes like causa or sushi. I have been saying this for a while that the reason why Nikkei cuisine works in Peru is because it has developed very naturally in this country. It’s because most Nikkei restaurants started as simply Peruvian and not Japanese restaurants. In my book, I talk about this history which shows that the chef’s that started cooking Nikkei 60 or 70 years ago were not cooking Japanese cuisine. They were cooking Peruvian food but giving it a twist with Japanese influence, even the ceviche in Peru has been influenced by the Japanese. I would say both ceviche and leche de Tigre are more popular concepts in the world when talking about Peruvian food. That is the first thing people associate with Peru just like for Japan it is sushi that first comes to mind.

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What Peru means to me is flavor and it is a country that has one of the ten important cuisines in the world with each one having their own specific identity. Some cuisines are very light in flavor while others are more robust. I like to say that Peruvian You often speak at congresses and food events cuisine is like hard rock. It’s salsa, it’s has so around the world. What is the most significant many peaks, it’s so powerful to the point of being aspect of Peruvian cuisine that you share with the overwhelming. This is where Nikkei cuisine comes audiences? in as it tones it down a little bit because that’s the I believe that Peru has three basic things that I like Japanese way. It’s more calm, Zen, as the spices to share. One is the biodiversity of products with its are pared down. Peruvian Chinese is like a song microclimates, in fact 75% of all the microclimates and if you go into any home and see the way they of the world. In order to understand the way we fry the onions with the Peruvian aji chilies before cook here based on the regions, it is important making the stew or how they prep the pumpkins to to share that. The next point is that Peru has an put in it, is the base of that song. If you came here unusual amount of influence from other parts of the twenty years ago, you would have eaten rice with a world compared to other countries. For example, stew as that is what we ate at home. It looked plain tempura is not Japanese but a Portuguese import and not so pretty but when you close your eyes and but in Peru the Nikkei or the Chifa (Chinese style tasted it you were in heaven. So for me Peru is very fried rice) are not separate cuisines but part of our strong, full of flavor. Peruvian cuisine which has many cuisines within it. I try to relate that Peru is a multi-cultural country, and way more than a melting pot. Many countries have a melting pot but the pot in this country is very unique because we have Italian, French, Chinese, and Japanese dishes which are on menus in Peruvian restaurants. This mix of flavors has built the Peruvian cuisine and to comprehend it is important for realizing the uniqueness of Peru.

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Has social media contributed to the changing aesthetic? Yes, it has and we all want our food to look amazing, romantic and all that. Whatever you do you have to remember that first you eat to nourish yourself, and then because it’s tasty and gives you a kick when you put it in your mouth. So aesthetic can never be more important than the taste. For me taste and flavor is important over everything else. Best of lists and ratings bring in business. Have chefs become more competitive as a result? I do believe we are in a more competitive environment and I see it as a positive. This kind of competition makes you reflect more and improve and develop your cuisine. It generates new ideas and this healthy competition is good for such development.

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Is it a good or interesting time to be a chef or cook in Peru right now, with access to all these forgotten ingredients and new products? It’s like being in Disneyland. It’s like not having a map to follow and you go along not knowing what you will find. You always find new things, new recipes. When you travel in Peru where you really learn to cook is in people’s homes. Often times in Northern Peru the best meals I have had are in people’s homes. The way they cook rice, or treat their lamb or use everything they grow is incredible. It’s a great time to be a chef but also a moment when we have to comprehend and take a stand regarding where we going regarding sustainability of the products. My tasting menu is focused on the sea because we have many issues regarding the sustainability of its products. Our job is also to make the society aware of these things and what they should support and what are they many options in underused products. LAPAS CEVICHE

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How do you build the progression of your 15 course menus? I consider is how I want that diner to feel and to experience. If I give sea urchin or something with a strong flavor in one course then the next flavor is not going to be stronger but lighter. My tasting menu has five hot dishes and two warm and eight cold. I like to break it up and make it interesting keeping of course a sequence regarding the order of the courses. How do you handle negative comments? CHANCHO CON YUCA

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It depends not only on what is said but how it is said. I really listen to people and if they criticize my food I reflect on it unless they are just being obnoxious. In weekly meetings with my kitchen team I tell them that usually people are right. If you don’t taste the dish they are tasting and see if it’s really undercooked or over-salted then you cannot do a good job. There are things like if the customer wants a steak medium rare and it doesn’t come to the table that way then as a chef you cannot insist that you are right. I appreciate feedback not because I doubt my capacity as a chef but I feel if out of ten people seven comment about the same dish then it’s a sign that something needs to change.


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GINDARA

CHUROS-RIVERS SNAILS, CHALACA, DALE DALE FOAM

CHORITO

ROCOTO RELLENO-RIBEYE, ROCOTO TEMPURA

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CACAO


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Are Peruvian chefs working together to promote the country’s cuisine? It’s not just chefs, the government or journalists that help promote Peru but also Peruvians. Out of 3233 million people in our country at least one third that is around 10 million are Peruvian ambassadors around the world. Chefs like Joan Roca, Ferran Adria, Alain Ducasse, and Massimo Bottura who have been here as well as visitors who fall in love with Peru talk about it and have focused the eyes of the culinary world on us. That exposure has been very beneficial for us. Besides the new openings around the world and in Peru, what are the other dreams you want to realize maybe ten years down the road? I am going to share something I have not shared before. Ten years from now my dream is to have one restaurant that will not be Maido because I feel that Maido has a cycle like everything else which will run out at some point. The restaurant I envision right here in Lima will have a concept focused on casual, comfort food. I want to bring Nikkei back towards the home style of cooking and while restaurants I open abroad will continue. My biggest passion is to cook and the most important thing for me personally is to be happy all the time and right now my happiness lies in Maido. Right now, life is hectic with one or two day trips to Europe or Asia but I honestly I don’t want to have this stress of the lists, stars or reviews. I am 35 years old now and hope to keep my energy for the future. I love what I do and very happy right now but want to be able to have people come in to a casual place, have fun and share the joy. I want to enjoy the ride in my life after all we are here for a very short time. WG December 2017 -

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