Page 1

OCTOBER WG MAGAZINE 2017

GEETA BANSAL CONVERSATIONS

WITH CHEFS

www.wgmagazines.com

WG October 2017 -

1


DISCOVER INDIA AN AT THE HAND OF T

THE CHECK ME AND AM PROGRN THE WEBSITE CHEFSTOHE CONGRESS OF /SanSebastianGastronomika

2 - WG October 2017

A SELECTION OF TOP HINDU CH AND INTERNATIONAL CHE AT THIS YEAR’S EDITION OF SAN

www.sansebastian


WG MAGAZINE

29th EDITION SAN SEBASTIAN, TH TH FROM 8 TO 11 OCTOBER 2017 KURSAAL CONGRESS CENTRE

ND SPICE COOKING THE FINEST CHEFS

HEFS ALONGSIDE TOP SPANISH EFS. SPICE-BASED CUISINE N SEBASTIAN GASTRONOMIKA.

ngastronomika.com

@ssgastronomika WG October 2017 -

3


All new

The full range.

For your dream kitchen.

Large kitchen, small kitchen, many meals, fewer meals, quick s whatever your challenge is, SelfCookingCenterÂŽ and CombiMa Find out more: rational-online.com and ConnectedCooking.com

4 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

snacks, extensive dinner – aster® Plus have the answer.

WG October 2017 -

5


6 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

AWARNESS IS FINE BUT ADVOCACY TAKES YOUR BRAND TO THE NEXT LEVEL info@wgkonnect.com

WG October 2017 -

7


8 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

9


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

10 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

11


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

12 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

13


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, Sydney, Australia - WG October 2017

14

partnered with SKD ACADEMY the culinary institute in the Philippines


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

15


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

16 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

“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

WG October 2017 -

17


Editor

Fabian deCastro

Culinary Editor

Geeta Bansal

Lifestyle Editor

Doug Singer

Feature Editor

Oilda Barreto

Contributors

Michael Hepworth Rhiannon Shepherd Claudia Ferreres

Photography

Majella O’Connell

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

G

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.

www.wgmagazines.com/foundation

18 - WG October 2017

Cover Image Credit: ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ - AN OYSTER’S FROZEN KISS MUGARITZ PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA


G WG MAGAZINE

Conversations with Chefs… “Gastronome Geeta” Geeta Bansal, chef/food journalist and WG Culinary Editor travels the world pursuing her passion for food and those who create it. She takes us on a journey to meet with the creators of unique culinary concepts at some of the finest restaurants in the world.

According to Geeta, “A chef’s cuisine is reflective of the life they have lived and the story they have to tell” WG kicks off the first issue ‘Conversation with Chefs’ with Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, where a meal is much more than a dining experience; it is in fact an intellectual dialogue between the chef and the diner. Andoni plays with the diner’s intellect and emotions by introducing revolutionary concepts stimulating not just the palate but also the intellect. Conversation with Chefs continues with the magician of French cuisine - Guy Savoy who believes “Cooking is the art of instantly transforming historical products into pleasure.” Following three generations of cooks in her family, Chef Elena Arzak is proudly carrying on her family legacy at Arzak in the Basque Country of Spain.

A passion for gastronomy and his quest for excellence in all his ventures, which are meticulously researched and planned to the last detail for Alain Ducasse - the “Glocal” French superstar chef. At the avant-garde El Celler De Can Roca chef Joan Roca shares his vision for the kitchens of the future. Christopher Kostow keeps it real at The Restaurant At Meadowood, while Rene Redzepi shares his thoughts on Noma Past, Present & Future as gastronomes eagerly await the opening of Noma 2.0. Massimo Bottura waxes poetical about transforming imperfections into perfection. The chef who bet on his own talent – Mauro Colagreco, the Argentinean Italian and now decidedly French shares the story behind the inception of Mirazur. Circling back to Spain, where Josean Alija lets nature mark the rhythm of his cuisine at Nerua in the Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao. A very special thank you to Andoni Luis Aduriz for his foreword to this issue.

WG’s continued passion and commitment to shining a light on the best from around the world! Bon Appétit

FdeCastro

WG October 2017 -

19


One of the most precious things in life is to care as caring means spending time. Time, in turn, is the most valuable of all ingredients. It allows us to live, to question whether taste is most important, to be creative and make others be so, or to rethink the rules and play with our senses. It is a gift to have time to stop, to reflect and to understand the state of things. The effort made by the people behind this publication reflects how having that close conversations with professionals who have a deep knowledge of the gastronomic sector are necessary. It helps us be more aware of where we are and where we are going. Time is the most volatile aspect of the present. The present automatically becomes the past when you begin to think about it. This is why it is so complex to look toward the future because reality is moving so fast that the future becomes the present. Thank you WG Magazine and Geeta Bansal for giving us time and space to reflect! Andoni Luis Aduriz Mugaritz

20 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

PHOTO © ALEX ITURRALDE

WG October 2017 -

21


OCTOBER 2017

CONTENTS 26

I Am A Diner Before I Am A Chef

52

Magician Of French Cuisine

78

Her Family Legacy

100 The “Glocal” French Superstar Chef 118 The Famed El Celler De Can Roca Shares His Vision 136 Keeping It Real - The Restaurant At Meadowood 166 Norma Past, Present & Future 184 Poetry of Cuisine 208 Mauro Shares His Story 224 Rhythm Of Cuisine Marked By Nature At Nerua

22 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

Summer. Frozen Sea Water. Swim. Play together. Silence and A Wet-Sea-Kiss. An Oyster’s Frozen Kiss is Mugaritz’ interpretation of a sensual moment, that frozen touch of the breast of that one who has been swimming next to you until now in the cold water, that sea flavour of a kissed nipple. This creation is an example of the idea of eating with all the body, of having a multisensorial experience, not only about flavour but also about touch, smell and sight. A dish that can be sucked, licked and touched to feel the same freedom as a cold frozen kiss after swimming in the sea.

ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ - AN OYSTER’S FROZEN KISS MUGARITZ PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

WG October 2017 -

23


CONVERSATIONS WI

24 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

ITH CHEFS

WG October 2017 -

25


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

26 - WG October 2017

PHOTO © ALEX ITURRALDE


WG MAGAZINE

ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

I AM A DINER BEFORE I AM A CHEF et amongst the picturesque Basque countryside of Northern Spain, on the outskirts of the gastronomic hub of San SebastiĂĄn, sits the world-renowned Mugaritz restaurant. Opened in 1998 post an initial rocky start, acclaimed chef Andoni Aduriz has succeeded in establishing an international culinary hot spot that is on the bucket list of gastronomes around the world. The restaurant draws not only proud Basque locals or Spaniards but also international guests from over 70 countries to the unique experience that Mugaritz offers in a redefined former farmhouse. The two Michelin- starred restaurant has consistently been in the top ten of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants List and is a pioneer of the modernist cuisine movement in Spain. The restaurant maintains an extensive culinary R & D facility while the wine program is curated and led by a dedicated team of sommeliers and researchers.

S

The cuisine at Mugaritz is representative of the region’s local produce, traditions, seasons, and the enormous respect Chef Aduriz has for the gifts of nature. His style of cooking is sometimes referred to as neonaturalism due to his proclivity for changing the properties of foods while preserving the original form or sometimes transforming them completely using advanced scientific processes. The constantly changing seasonal menus (a result of the work of the research team at the restaurant) ensure that every dining experience at Mugaritz is different and unique. A meal at Mugaritz is much more than a dining experience; it is in fact an intellectual dialogue between the chef and the diner. Aduriz plays with the diner’s intellect and emotions by introducing new concepts which stimulate not just the palate but also the mind. The connection between the terroir and the cuisine is easy to understand in the contemporary and elegant dining room where the real art appears on the table as beautifully plated food.

WG October 2017 -

27


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

Food is the essence of a culture of a certain time or place encapsulated and presented on a plate or a menu. Aduriz exemplifies this concept brilliantly, as he presents the Basque culinary traditions in a modern format, re-imagined and representative of here and now. He is a dignified, intellectual chef, part food researcher; part philosopher looked up to with reverence by his peers. Aduriz has also dabbled in the world of art, theatre, and music in the form of a collaborative music project and a play titled The Degustation de Titus Andronicus. The research aspect and the scientific approach, both elements he absorbed at his time at El Bulli, are nevertheless entirely his own interpretations at Mugaritz. His appearances at food congresses such as Madrid Fusion, Mistura and San Sebastián

28 - WG October 2017

Gastronomika draw record crowds of his peers and culinarians. He has authored several cookbooks of which Mugaritz - A Natural Science of Cooking has become a valuable reference tool in progressive kitchens around the world. Mugaritz is jewel in the crown of the IXO group of restaurants that include the one Michelin starred Nerua and Bistro Guggenheim at the museum in Bilbao, and in San Sebastián the casual NiNeu, and just down the street from it, Topa Sukalderia the latest venture serving a Basque interpretation of Latin American flavors which Aduriz refers to as ‘contact cuisine’. The old town is home to Bodegon Alejandro in a basement off the cobbled streets of San Sebastián’s old town. According to the


WG MAGAZINE

THE END OF HERBS PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

Michelin guide it is the place for traditional high quality Basque cuisine and with Aduriz at the helm it cannot be otherwise. For the Topa Sukalderia concept the team put in four years of research before the perfectionist chef was ready to open the doors. A more glamorized version of Topa Sukalderia in Dubai sometime in the near future and more might follow as the pop ups suggest, the most recent in Los Angeles this past July.

Are you referring to the menu? Yes. All the dishes on the menu change with every season and we did a lot of reflection and actually changed the whole structure of the menu. The organization too?

It changes every year to adapt to the menu. Like we changed the menu some most of it is to be eaten with the hands and we forced it pretty much as a The articulate and well-informed chef can hold creative technique. However some dishes we felt forth on any subject under the sun as I have come were too much to be eaten this way so we then we to know over the years. changed the structure so guests would not have to In conversation when I said that sometimes I’m switch back and forth between cutlery and eating not sure if I like change, he laughed ”saying here with their hands. This also makes planning the progression of the menu more challenging. things are always changing.” WG October 2017 -

29


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

30 - WG October 2017

SPROUTED CHIA HEART AND CREAM PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA


WG MAGAZINE

happen, one that it’s possible that they may be logical or on the other hand you cannot share the same idea or viewpoint and find them totally illogical. For example one day we had a table in the restaurant that was very challenging and difficult to please. The same day we had a table of guests who had dined all over the world in restaurants like Noma, etc. Those guests said last year we liked our meal a lot but this year it’s like a perfect ten. At the same time we had yet another table who were just angry and when they visited the kitchen like all our guests are invited to do, we asked how everything Is it necessary for menus need to follow the usual was. They said they had come three times once in format with desserts at the end and small plates 2002, then 2006 and then that day ten years later at the beginning of a meal? Can we change that so it was over sixteen years since their first visit. order? They loved it the first two times but liked nothing on that particular day. We actually changed all that except we kept some sweet notes within the progression of courses. The I asked what went wrong and they said the first time next season we might eliminate dessert altogether. they came there were only five tables, and today (The current seasonal menu no longer ends on a the whole dining room is full and they thought we sweet note). had sold out ourselves for more money.

“We cook for fifty only because we know that we can offer the best quality for that number though most probably the dining room can hold a hundred people”

Why is this constant change so important?

I said we didn’t change the number of tables and for almost twenty years we only seat 50 people If the change arises out of reflection in our lives and have only sixteen tables. The difference is that then it is always necessary. If the change is solely whereas earlier we didn’t have so many customers because we feel we must change then here is no now we are cooking for fifty people at each seating. use for it and no purpose behind it. It has to be We cook for fifty only because we know that we can logical and natural. offer the best quality for that number though most Since it seems everyone has become a critic these probably the dining room can hold a hundred days how do you deal with negativity or criticism? people. Most tables are only of two people and sometimes it is only 32 or 36 guests instead of 50. When someone critiques you or gives a negative So if you say the food is not good I can accept that comment you always put yourself on the defensive. but it is incorrect to say that it’s because we are I feel the most important thing is to take a step back serving so many since we always cap the number and look at things from a distance and understand at 50. If it were 70 our quality might be wobbly but what exactly are they are saying. Two things may not under 50. WG October 2017 -

31


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

32 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

Is there an ideal number or limit as to the number of guests to be able to control quality in a fine dining restaurant? In our case we have determined that its sixteen tables or 50 guests is the limit and whichever comes first so we close our reservations at that point. We can even have 50 guests on five tables. So that is what I explained to that irate guest in the kitchen that day but she still didn’t agree. Do you think guests understand the complexity and preparation of food at fine dining restaurants like yours? There is also an even worse situation when each table has a different menu. We don’t usually talk about products in our case rather we focus on creativity. It does not mean that we don’t attach importance to products but rather we only use the best quality we can acquire. Sometimes these products are available in limited quantities only, since we work with singular producers or special providers so they are limited in the quantity of product that they grow or catch. We then have to mix and match these products and because of the limit to devise the menu for a table. We cannot guarantee that there is ample quantity of say a particular fish for every table. There may not be enough for everyone so the menu may vary for some tables. For us it’s important that we offer the best to every table though they might end up having different experiences and unique experiences. So that same guest then asked if that meant that every table has a different menu. When I replied in the affirmative she had an issue with that too. She said despite serving different food to all the diners you still charge the same price! MUGARITZ PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

WG October 2017 -

33


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

34 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

Noble Rot

A new way of creativity... An homage through the story of the botrytis. Working together, the R&D team and Sommelier team of Mugaritz creates a solid and the liquid part together, from the beginning, not looking for pairings, but for emotional harmonies!

PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

WG October 2017 -

35


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

Isn’t this a perception of value? Are people calculating the cost of product and not comprehending the concept? They are crazy to think that way and I don’t have a problem responding but after a certain point you just look at them in fascination as they go on to list every restaurant that they have dined in on virtually every continent. This was an issue with just that guest and they went on to tell me where else they had eaten listing Arzak and Celler de Can Roca. I said the last time you came here was ten years ago and you might have eaten in Mugaritz, Arzak, or El Celler few time but I have eaten over 50 times in those restaurants. We don’t work to please because for us pleasing has to do with taste. What you like and don’t like is up to you. The problem with a restaurant like Mugaritz is that we might get seventy different nationalities from different environments and cultures so the taste range varies widely. At one time there may be more Australians than Basque so which taste do we need to please? We can only do so many things and there may be some that guests like and some not so much. We are however doing what we know is best. We are not trying to please all the palates at the tables.

36 - WG October 2017

ROASTED BEEF LARD PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

Are guests who come from a distances more adventurous? I think so because that is a result of them having made the effort to travel from so far away to dine here. For some it may be a dream to eat here while others just want to add it to the list of trophy restaurants. Some come because they love to eat, others study us before coming and then (laughing) some who have no idea where they are. Luckily those are very few and some come already knowing that that they might not like it. This brings us back to the subject of critiques. You work to make everyone happy and when someone doesn’t appreciate what you do of course it is difficult for us. They have reason to do that or they might not but we suffer regardless. Usually people are very appreciative and it’s very seldom that someone critiques objectively. Very rarely it could be that they didn’t like the kind of fish or the service was slow but such critiques are subjective.


WG MAGAZINE

PHOTO © ALEX ITURRALDE

WG October 2017 -

37


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

7TH HAKE IN WHITE, DOBUROKU PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

Since we are talking about critiques what role do food critics play in this context. Are they well-informed themselves about the food, techniques or processes?

38 - WG October 2017

Food critics usually write for the restaurants when they really need to write for the public. The people who read reviews need a sort of guideline as to what they can expect in a restaurant. The culinary world I feel is very subjective but journalists need to write for the public and help them understand and guide them about what they will experience on their visit. Instead of critiquing they should chronicle the experience for diners. There is so much diversity in the culinary world right now and the critics need to be almost like tour guides. Informed diners can then decide for themselves if they want to go to a restaurant or not. For example let’s speak of the Amazon, is it hell or a paradise, it’s a matter of perception. One can say it’s very hot, it’s humid, there are lots of mosquitoes, the water is not potable but you can’t criticize by saying the waters really bad, you can get sick, get bitten etc. You should instead create a chronicle for it and leave it to the visitor to decide if it’s paradise or not.


WG MAGAZINE

It’s the same with diners they should have the information and then be able to form their own opinions. Sometimes critics are bored since they visit every single restaurant or just write from their own perspective. There are also many things they don’t write about that are also in the experience. What is the effect of scripted shows like Chef’s Table or reality shows that depict the chef’s as being glamorous and do they lead to inflated egos? There are guests these days who think that chef’s are Gods because of all this. Young chefs can get inflated egos, especially when you reach the top very fast, and then yes, the ego plays a part. Chefs like me or Elena Arzak for example, we have taken a long time to get where we are now and are more flexible and as a result more down to earth and human. In the restaurant kitchen right now there are sixteen different tests being undertaken because at the sixteen tables people are going to test me and see how everything goes. If I pass that then tomorrow there will be the next sixteen tables and then it’s another test. With each test I get more flexible and more human and it keeps me grounded. WG October 2017 -

39


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

“Everything we do at Mugaritz is from the perspective of the diner. When diners sit down to eat they experience things that are very revolutionary” 40 - WG October 2017

TRIPAS “COLORÁS” PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA


WG MAGAZINE

When does a chef reach the point when he begins to cook for himself and not to please others? Have you reached that point where you are comfortable putting it out there for people saying like it or not this is how I do it? Even though you are confident that what you are doing is right you can never please everyone anyway. With more experience and age we are able to say what we do is incredible even though some people may like it while others may not. But what we do is solid and has maturity and even those who have eaten just about everywhere else are still surprised here. I am a diner before I am a chef and I get bored very fast. I also don’t want to lose any time and there are restaurants where I go to eat and where I don’t have much patience because I already know what I want to eat and order. Then there are some places I go to experiment, so there are different kind of energies in different restaurants.

“There are many restaurants that can grill a fish perfectly and then they put it on a cold tray to take it to the table and serve it on a cold plate. Though the fish is cooked to perfection and is of good quality but during this process it loses its qualities”

Everything we do at Mugaritz is from the perspective of the diner. When diners sit down to eat they experience things that are very revolutionary. Maybe they have been done before in other restaurants but here there is lot of ingenuity.

Let’s talk about the dishes, it’s a very long sequence and since I love diversity because I get bored without it so the food has to be inspired and show something new, create doubt and while at the same time has a rhythm to it. In fact this rhythm is very fast and comes rapidly. There is no protocol or cutlery to deal with and the two hours at the table go by really fast. The restaurant gives very different stimuli during this time but in a very gentle and natural way. There is nothing forced and nothing weird and though it seems like everything is the same as always but the guests don’t feel like they are being taken advantage of. Rather they feel that they are being taken care of but everything is different. This is what our service has been about for the 50 guests each day.

For example there is a lot of space between tables in Mugaritz and the table is bare and there is nothing on it. It looks like set in a theatre and objects are not just objects but they are tools. That is already a challenge for guests which actually began happening ten years ago. Following that the way we talk to people and attend to them is not conventional. It is a choreographed process since we have worked over ten years with choreographers to develop it.

More than 1400 dishes are going out from the kitchen and that is incredible when I think about it. It’s rapid and very organized while we play with different aspects, temperatures and ingredients which are very important elements for me. There are many restaurants that can grill a fish perfectly and then they put it on a cold tray to take it to the table and serve it on a cold plate. Though the fish is cooked to perfection and is of good quality but during this process it loses its qualities. WG October 2017 -

41


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

“Why does Mugaritz exist? It’s very simple because people do need it to fulfill that quest”

42 - WG October 2017

BREAD AND WINE, ETERNAL LIFE... PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA


WG MAGAZINE

We are talking about Mugaritz which is a fine dining restaurant but is such service an elitist concept since the average diner does not have such frequent exposure to it? That is a great question because people from different walks of life come to our restaurant. How is it possible that people from more than 70 countries come here and how is it that they travel from the other side of the world just to eat here. What motivates them? A lot of them are well to do and have everything. For me a Ford Focus is my car which might not be good enough for some people but for me it is my car. I have a nice house though there are better houses and I don’t have a gold Rolex, however I do have a watch. From my perspective I have everything but some people who have more are trying to find experiences. So why does Mugaritz exist? It’s very simple because people do need it to fulfill that quest. Sometimes people save for a special trip to Mugaritz, especially young cooks, so you have those clients too? Yes and they need the experience and that is another reason Mugaritz exists. How long does a dish take from inception or an ideas to finally appear on the table at Mugaritz? Creativity is done through different teams at Mugaritz. I can have an idea, it could be a good one or a bad one. I had an idea that I relayed to the team who created their interpretation of my idea and we found it worthwhile. Some ideas resolve fast while others may take years. Sometimes as they go through the development phase the team and I are not so sure anymore. Maybe later something comes up that connects to that idea and then it’s workable. WG October 2017 -

43


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

Is there a dish out of thousands you created that still surprises you?

I always say that it’s the “edible stones” that I created over ten years ago. It was when we didn’t know that Clay could be edible and we had no reference point for it either. It was in fact a starting point and we had to do a lot of research and go through a lot of trials before we could perfect it. We do a lot of such work with products and elements that are unusual with a lot of scientific support in our work. A lot of fun ideas and dishes have been realized here at Mugaritz.

44 - WG October 2017

EDIBLE STONES PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA


WG MAGAZINE

Any dish that you are not so proud of? A lot of them, especially from the beginning phase. But they were necessary steps for us to get where we are now. This what I tell people when a new chef emerges, to be patient and give them the opportunity to find their way. If they cannot accomplish it within three years then maybe they are not going to succeed.

WG October 2017 -

45


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

With the political and socio economic conditions in flux these days is that why chefs are choosing to open new ventures closer to home? I feel life is a risk and when we first opened people thought we were crazy because we were so far out from San Sebastián in those days and no one came here. Then we were crazy and now not so crazy anymore because we are working well and the more we worked, the more money we had, the more money we invested back. We hired more people, added more equipment and grew. Whatever the next step we take it will also be thought of as crazy initially so it’s going to be a risk. Remember all the crazy people in the world do a lot of amazing things. If we look at certain things objectively life is full of crazy things that happen and exceed our expectations. For us to be here it’s like having won the lottery a billion times. It’s like one particular sperm meeting an egg, also a slim possibility and when they meet they

46 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

CHILLED CONSOMMÉ FROM 2014, ROE AND CUCKOOFLOWER PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

create life. Objectively it’s pretty amazing and a miracle that it happens. The same is true about the fact that you have the parents you were born to and your grandparents and so on for millions of years. For me it’s like a lottery has been won putting me in this place and for me to be here right now. Each year is a miracle and is proof that you can win a lottery more than a billion times. Actually it’s even more complicated like that game when you throw a ball and try to aim it down at a slot. From an evolutionary point of view this ball is not going down, in fact it’s going up. Do you think someone who has a child thinks about all this? From the point of view of nature we transport genes but we do all that without thinking much about it. We always prefer the more simplistic explanation and if we don’t think about something so vital so then how much thought do we give to a restaurant. WG October 2017 -

47


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

Do you believe in destiny? No, I believe you make your own destiny because at the end of the day you are the one making the decisions. Sometimes you have clarity about where you want to head, you dream about it, and feel certain you will get it but then it eludes you. Then life will put you on a different path and maybe destiny has nothing to do with it because it’s all based on your interactions. In certain aspects you can change your direction by your own choice. In absolute poverty or in a situation that doesn’t allow you to grow or if you are a woman , and poor then it doesn’t allow you access to education or medicine and then you even marry into a similar situation and you are restricted. There are still certain parts of situations you can change so we are very lucky unlike some people who live a different reality, where their decisions cannot really change their circumstances.

48 - WG October 2017

Are you satisfied and content with all that you have achieved so far? I try to be though I can’t be every day. It all depends on the colors I see through my glasses or the colors rather that they show me. The studies of happiness show that a major factor in this is genetic, at last 50% or so. A lot of essential elements we think of contribute only 10%. Say you are in a wheelchair, are poor or have a chronic illness but that amounts for only 10% of your happiness. The other 40% we can try act upon and it has to do with attitude. Things are the way they are but what we can change is the way we confront these things. I can say oh my God I am 45 years old, maybe economically on a fine line and I can look at other restaurants and say they have a lot of business and


WG MAGAZINE

TEMPERATURE VS FLAVOUR PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA

work less than I do. I can look back and think that I spent most of my adolescence working and now worry about if today’s service will go smoothly or think my life is shit. I can think this way or think Holy Shit! I am so lucky. So I would say that though I work a lot I am mostly happy and I can do what I want and am not wanting for anything. A lot of people love me and we inspire so many people and make the world better with our work. I could work less but I get to travel around the world, eat at the best restaurants things that my parents could never have dreamt of doing so I am privileged. It’s about adapting too for example if on my day off its raining and I can’t go out I will say fine I will stay in and watch a movie. Sometimes I need to push myself to be positive because I feel I need to. WG October 2017 -

49


ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ

50 - WG October 2017

PINENUT “KAGAMI” EMBEDDED IN ICE SHAVINGS PHOTO © JOSÉ LUIS LÓPEZ DE ZUBIRÍA


WG MAGAZINE

I hope not though in the 50 Best there are over a thousand or so voters and in each zone it’s chef’s, gastronomes, press, etc that are involved so it is supposedly a democratic process. The result is sometimes surprising so should only a limited number of people vote or should it be more democratic. This is truly a paradox. Do the chefs make the lists important or do the lists make them?

Are rankings and lists distracting chef’s from their work in the kitchen?

It works both ways. For example Rene Redzepi is way higher in importance than a three Michelin star and has already made history. In the Michelin guide we are in the two star category but the restaurant is way up in the 50 Best list. The only way is not to look at the people ranked above you on the list or think too much about it. It’s not important where Mugaritz places on a list but what is more important to me is my objective to make it great. It has definitely helped us to be on the list because a lot of people came to know us because of this list. It also motivates us to work harder and maintain our standard. It’s all very objective because who is to say that they are better than Mugaritz or we are less than anyone else. I am happy to see my friends at the top of the list and that’s it. We merit number one but if we end up at 50 then that’s life. WG October 2017 -

51


GUY SAVOY

52 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

GUY SAVOY

MAGICIAN OF FRENCH CUISINE PHOTO © JLAURENCE MOUTON

WG October 2017 -

53


GUY SAVOY

54 - WG October 2017

POMME DE TERRE-CAVIAR, L’ŒUF EN SABAYON FUMÉ


WG MAGAZINE

uy Savoy, the celebrated Parisian chef and restaurateur, believes that cuisine is magic. In any conversation with him it is impossible to be unaffected by his infectious enthusiasm for cuisine, France and especially the city of Paris. A red neon sign at his three Michelin-starred restaurant proclaims “Cooking is the art of instantly transforming historical products into pleasure.” For a French chef he is quite unconventional as evidenced by his modern art collection and minimalist yet elegant decor in his restaurants that juxtaposes with the classic techniques he favors to reimagine ingredients. The original “Guy Savoy” restaurant, opened in 1980 and then was relocated in 2015 to the grandiose Hotel de Monnaie (the former French mint), where its ten-foot tall windows look out over the Seine. A regal red-carpeted staircase leads guests into six sumptuous dining rooms with contemporary art on the walls and exquisitely laid tables. The affable chef is the consummate host, often dropping by to greet guests, regulars, and the who’s who of the town.

G

In the new light-filled kitchens in the heart of historical 18th century Paris, Savoy and his team translate the ephemeral into unforgettable memories for guests every day. Food lovers experience that special magic and finesse in the iconic truffle-laden artichoke soup, the famous “Colors of Caviar”, the humble “Myriad of Peas” or other magical offerings. WG October 2017 -

55


GUY SAVOY

SURPRISE DE HOMARD

56 - WG October 2017

The suave chef is intimately acquainted with the foodscape of his city since he owns multiple operations that range from his posh three Michelin-starred restaurant to less formal places to grab a bite without dropping a bundle of Euros. Savoy started the casual trend as early as 1988 with his bistro l’Etoile following more recently with an oyster bar, a boulangerie spinning out those delicious brioches served with his truffle/artichoke soup, a seafood restaurant (at the former location of his gastronomic restaurant), and a cafe at the Monnaie. Savoy’s other restaurants in Paris are Le Chiberta (one star), Les Bouquinistes, and l’Atelier Maitre Albert. La Liste which ranks the 1000 Best Restaurants of the world based on Gault-Milau, Michelin, online reviews and press ranked his Paris ‘Guy Savoy’ restaurant at the top of the list for 2017. The “Guy Savoy” restaurant at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas which has been recognized by Restaurant Magazine as one of the top ten restaurants in the U.S. When asked about the affect of such recognitions on business he says “it is not evident on the flow of business in my restaurants, but it is such a good thing for the spirit of my teams”.


WG MAGAZINE

SURPRISE DE HOMARD

WG October 2017 -

57


GUY SAVOY

58 - WG October 2017

ENORME LANGOUSTINE GRILLÉE, LÉGÈREMENT PIMENTÉE ET NAVET EN FILET


WG MAGAZINE

It has been 49 years since the Burgundy native began his career in the city of Paris. While he himself interned in the famous Troisgros kitchens in Roanne, a number of well-known chefs like Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, Richard Ekkebus, and Alex Guarnaschelli have trained and worked in his kitchen. Guy Savoy was recently chosen as an ambassador of gastronomy by the French government to attract the international business community for events and meetings to the country. An avid art collector, his collections adorn his various restaurants and he is known to frequent art galleries in search of singular pieces to add to his well-curated collection. L’AUTOMNE

An avid art collector, his collections adorn his various restaurants and he is known to frequent art galleries in search of singular pieces to add to his well-curated collection...

Do the tastes of chefs and diners change with changes in society? This is an eternal question: Is it the cook that changes the mind of the guests, or the opposite? It is like “the chicken or the egg” I think we are unconsciously inspired by the society and the time we are living in. Are chefs more adventurous about introducing unexpected flavors, combinations, textures, and ingredients these days? I don’t think so. We (the chefs) are lucky to work in a time where we can find so many different products. Chefs dare to express their sensibility on a technical basis. There are so many different styles on Earth. WG October 2017 -

59


GUY SAVOY

“Paris has many great restaurants at the Plaza, the Bristol, the Meurice, the Ritz but I knew that this new Guy Savoy restaurant would be a magnificent and beautiful addition” What did you expect from life when you started your journey in the kitchen? Was there a plan or a dream that you wished to realize?

HUÎTRES ÉNORMES EN POT-AU-FEU COMME À ETOILE-SUR-MER

60 - WG October 2017

No there was no plan as such, things just fell into place by themselves and I could not ask for more. Even today I don’t think about all that, I just keep going. I had never even thought about moving my restaurant in Paris to Hotel de la Monnaie. The opportunity came via a guest in my Paris restaurant who told me that he would like to show me a unique place in Paris that was looking for a three star (Michelin) restaurant to contract with. I went to look at the place with no idea of what I would see. The moment I saw the place I knew I had to be there. At first we were ten chefs in contention for the spot after that only three made it to the next selection. When I got the call that I was selected I was in disbelief and very emotional. I know it would be one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris and I was very excited about the project. Paris has many great restaurants at the Plaza, the Bristol, the Meurice, the Ritz but I knew that this new Guy Savoy restaurant would be a magnificent and beautiful addition.


WG MAGAZINE

HUÎTRES EN NAGE GLACÉEE, HUÎTRES CONCASSÉES, GRANITÉ ALGUE ET CITRON

WG October 2017 -

61


GUY SAVOY

Was there a special meal or experience while growing up that influenced you to enter the kitchen? My passion grew as I started to work and train in this profession. Initially my mother who ran a small establishment was responsible for creating the interest and teaching me how to transform seasonal bounty into beautiful food. My childhood memories are of simple dishes and all the tastes bring back fond memories of those days.

62 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

ROUGET BARBET EN SITUATION, LA MER EN GARNITURE

What makes chefs better over time? Is it experience, travel or experiencing other cuisines? It is the training, the concentration and desire to learn and keep perfecting. The front of the house and kitchen have to work together to create a memorable experience for the diners. I have some guests who come to eat every single day at my restaurant in Paris and even in Las Vegas we have many returning guests and some come very frequently just like in Paris. WG October 2017 -

63


GUY SAVOY

“Cuisine is very important in life, art you see, touch but cuisine you eat, you put in your body so it’s important and the pleasure you get from it is magic as well. Then add good wine and good company and it’s magical” What is the ‘Magic ‘ of cuisine you refer to?

LES COQUILLAGES DANS UNE MARMITTE ÉPHÉMÈRE

With your actions you transform a product and it’s concrete for example when you take a red mullet filet, a little salt, some pepper, put it in a pan, cook two or three seconds on each side, drizzle juice from the liver of the fish, a few drops of lemon juice. It’s transformed and it’s magic. In a few seconds you go from a simple piece of fish to something beautiful. Cuisine is very important in life, art you see, touch but cuisine you eat, you put in your body so it’s important and the pleasure you get from it is magic as well. Then add good wine and good company and it’s magical. Do you still stay in touch with the Troisgros family since the time that you trained there at all of 23 years of age? Of course, it was a great experience for me to work and learn at the Maison Troisgros with Pierre Troisgros. My connections with that family are very close. Michel Troisgros’s younger son Leo spent four months with me in my kitchen and I feel so happy for that ability to pass on what I know to the next Troigros generation. It’s incredible!

64 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

CAVIAR ET POMMES DE TERRE EN GALETS, L’ŒUF EN SABAYON FUMÉ

WG October 2017 -

65


GUY SAVOY

66 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

“For me cuisine and food is magic. I get a chance to create this magic every day for guests and to see them enjoy themselves makes everything worthwhile” How many days are you in the kitchen yourself? I spend five days in my kitchen and then two days away to recharge. I have a small house in the mountains in Switzerland and I love this place and look forward to being there almost every week. I also have a garden between Lyon and Grenoble and we grow many fruits vegetables and even have chickens but it’s for my own consumption and not my restaurants. Is your new location meeting all your expectations? What has been the most unexpected and pleasant surprise for you? It was love at first sight on my first visit in November 2009… and love ever again when we opened in May 2015. We’re now situated at the heart of historical Paris, by the Seine. I knew that most of our clients would follow us, but the unexpected surprise was to see that, even the neighbors who are working at the old address (18, rue Troyon 75017 Paris) come to La Monnaie de Paris regularly. Now you have one less outpost out of France since the closing of your Singapore restaurant. Does to focus more on your operations in Paris? My work is my life and I am happy as long as I can get to cook and guests can come in and enjoy what I create. For me cuisine and food is magic. I get a chance to create this magic every day for guests and to see them enjoy themselves makes everything worthwhile. Singapore was not the place for a high end fine dining restaurant and I did let Marina Bay Sands know but they really wanted me to come and so I did. In Las Vegas it is very different and my relationship with Caesars Palace is very strong and we work very well together. There is a huge clientele with the ability to afford dining at high end restaurants. There are not only visitors from within the US but also many international guests. We are open for dinner five nights a week and it’s working well for my team, for me and Caesars Palace. WG October 2017 -

67


GUY SAVOY

“The new restaurant is very modern and all the elements and the philosophy of the place are in harmony with my life and my style” You have used the same designer for all your restaurants. How involved are you in deciding the decor? What is the motif?

AUTOPORTRAIT À LA CIGARETTE - PIERRE ET GILLES PHOTO ©MARC DOMAGE

Jean-Michel Wilmotte has designed all my restaurants and he does such a beautiful job as you can see. We get along very well and I love his work. He has always brought my vision to life. My restaurants are meant to be elegant but comfortable for my guests to have the best experience possible. The new restaurant is very modern and all the elements and the philosophy of the place are in harmony with my life and my style. There are high ceilings, even the windows are very tall and the atmosphere of the building and the locale is very artisanal. The building was built in 1775, so it’s very historic and located just by the Seine. Who picks the art?

L’HOMME CELLULAIRE ET L’HOMME DE BESSINES FABRICE HYBER PHOTO ©MARC DOMAGE

68 - WG October 2017

I love contemporary and modern art. I tend to pick the art myself. When I am walking in Paris and see a piece at a gallery and if I love it I have to find a place for it in my restaurants. I am an artist at heart, so it’s on my plates, at my restaurants. I need to have art around me. My restaurant is my home and the pieces of art are here because this is the most important place for me. I have pieces from China like the red Buddha in my Paris restaurant, from Africa, and all over the world. I look to create a harmony in the space inside my restaurants. We are exhibiting works from the Pinault Collection as well as “Effervescence by Fabrice Hyber amongst other pieces.


WG MAGAZINE

SALON SCÈNES DE PARIS PHOTO © LAURENCE MOUTON

SALON BELLES BACCHANTES PHOTO © LAURENCE MOUTON

SALON BIBLIOTHÈQUE PHOTO © LAURENCE MOUTON

SALON VERT GALANT PHOTO © LAURENCE MOUTON

WG October 2017 -

69


GUY SAVOY

ASPERGES VERTES À L’ŒUF, DU “FOIN” AUTOUR

SELLE ET CARRÉ D’AGNEAU “VERSION SUD”

70 - WG October 2017

AUTOUR DU VEAU, JUS CLASSIQUE SOUS LA CROÛTE, COCOTTE D’AUTOMNE

PIGEON GRILLÉ AU BARBECUE, LES PETITS POIS, JUS AUX ABATS, À LA MANIÈRE DE LÉONIE


WG MAGAZINE

Do you still get anxious before every service since it is almost like a theatrical performance?

LA BRIGADE AU TRAVAIL

Of course since I want to make sure everything, the food, the service is perfect and they are guests comfortable and having a good time. It is impossible to be completely relaxed and we can only do that after the service or event. It’s very serious what we do, so the team has to be in sync, every table is important because around every table we have guests, it’s not just a table number for us , they are all coming to have a good time and we have to make sure we make it happen. You have rapidly opened a lot of new ventures and were they being planned over a long period of time? They had been planned a long time ago, but with the delay at La Monnaie, everything seemed to arrive at the same time. The restaurant at la Monnaie should have opened long ago. Over the past three decades has your clientele or concept changed? No, I would say everybody has followed us and the clientele keeps renewing, but some of our guests have been with us since 1977 when we first opened. My concept will keep evolving as it always did.

WG October 2017 -

71


GUY SAVOY

Are there dishes or ingredients on your menu that you would have not considered ten years ago? There are a few products like seaweeds, shellfish, as a few years ago I thought that oysters were the only high-quality shellfish, but now I use clams, goose barnacle, etc. I also use parts of the beef like beef chuck that I wouldn’t have done earlier. Ours is the land of diversity. I have not gone through all the possibilities and riches of France, by far. There are many new introductions like the “Tomatoes in two services”, “Red mullet swimming in the sea”, “Surf spray and turf saddle and rack of lamb”. What do you enjoy most about cooking in the new kitchen? The light and space, with the magnificent view over 18th-century Paris. AUTOUR DES TOMATES

Well-known chefs like yourself are opening casual eateries like your oyster bar or your latest brioche boutique. Is casual dining taking over the fine dining market? No. I started this in 1988, with ‘Les bistrots de l’Etoile’. As for the brioche shop, it is just an answer to our guests who keep asking to buy our brioches. You now have multiple operations in Paris. Have the recent tragic events affected your business? Of course it has affected my business. Fortunately our Parisian guests (who are numerous in our restaurants) are still there but there is a decrease of tourists. I have to say that if the Parisians have such a choice of restaurants it is thanks to the tourists that enable the restaurants to work.

72 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

AGNEAU TERRE-MER L’ÉPAULE COMME UNE CHAMPVALLON CHOISI

WG October 2017 -

73


GUY SAVOY

74 - WG October 2017

BAR EN ÉCAILLES GRILLÉES, JUS AUX ÉPICES DOUCES


WG MAGAZINE

What would you say to tourists, especially gastrotourists, about continuing to come to your beautiful city? I tell them that it is also risky to drive your own car in your own country. Life goes on. Is the French government or tourism board providing sufficient support to promote French gastronomy? It’s getting better and the power of gastronomy is now a real topic for our Minister of Foreign Affairs. Let’s not forget that we export over 11 billion € annually in wines and spirits. Do you like guests constantly taking pictures in the dining room before savoring your exquisite cuisine? Is it proper etiquette, and when is a line crossed? DES ASPERGES VERTES CRUES ET CUITES, JUSTE LE JAUNE

I don’t mind guests taking pictures in my restaurant. I just hope that the best memory they keep of their experience stays on their palate (all that a picture can’t do). What’s the most pleasant change in French gastronomy in recent years? Do you like the toneddown dining rooms of today? The change is not only in France but all over the world. There is a diversity that grows with regards to the plates, the decorations, the ambiance, the service (which is more friendly). WG October 2017 -

75


GUY SAVOY

Was there any unusual request when President Obama dined at your restaurant? Any special incident or memory from that event? The people who organized the dinner composed the menus a few days before his visit. Because of a time issue, they decided to skip the cheese course. President Obama however asked for cheese during his meal and said “We are in France so I would like to eat cheese” and he did. The First Lady was not there, but when Mr. Obama was about to leave the restaurant he told me that he would come back with her the next time they visit Paris. As a Parisian what are some of favorite haunts in the city? I love visiting all the museums and art galleries and I enjoy theatre, but unfortunately my job does not allow me time to indulge, however one of my regular guests for 30 years goes to the theatre 250 days a year. That goes to show the cultural richness of Paris.

LE MILLE-FEUILLE MINUTE À LA VANILLE DE TAHAA

I enjoy strolling in the beautiful Jardin des Plantes, the centuries old botanical garden, the Place Igor Stravinsky for its fountain created by Jean Tinguely et Niki de Saint Phalle. The bar of the Hôtel Raphaël. So British! I can contemplate a beautiful Turner before coming in as well as L’Aventure bar which is so Parisienne. Le Bouquinistes and Mama Shelter for some downtime and for food shopping Papa Sapiens. What do you feel is the biggest misconception regarding French cuisine? (Smiling) I never pay attention to misconceptions.

76 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

COCO

LA FRAISE, RAFRAICHIE AU BASILIC SOUS UNE FINE COQUE MERINGUÉE

LE SALÉ

CERISE-VERVEINE

WG October 2017 -

77


ELENA ARZAK

78 - WG October 2017

PHOTO © JCOCONUT


WG MAGAZINE

ELENA ARZAK

AND HER FAMILY LEGACY n a Saturday afternoon in the Arzak Restaurant in San Sebastián as the sounds of laughter and conviviality filled the dining room I was struck by what differentiates it from other temples of haute cuisine. The restaurant was alive filled with the joyous sounds of local families and guests of all ages in striking contrast to most other three Michelin starred establishments. Usually the only audible sounds at such luxe restaurants are the hushed whispers of diners and servers, the clink of glasses and silver at the table or subdued piped music playing in the background. When I asked Chef Elena Arzak about it she said, “This is how we ourselves are as a family and that is picked up by guests many of whom have been coming here through a few generations.”

O

Elena Arzak shares the head chef responsibilities at Arzak with her father Juan Mari Arzak. Following three generations of cooks in her family, the petite powerhouse of a chef is expanding the boundaries of cuisine of her beloved Basque region while incorporating influences, flavors, and spices from other cultures. On my last visit, she was charged up about her Cleopatra monkfish plate with Egyptian hieroglyphics made of pumpkin and chickpea puree. There is often a tongue-in-cheek humor in her whimsical plates that reflect her own lively personality. Her love for cuisine goes back to her childhood when during summer break she was allowed in the restaurant kitchen for two hours every day. Those afternoons led to a lifelong passion for the creative processes in a kitchen. The entire family including her grandmother, aunt, and father, all chefs, and her mother who took care of the front of the house worked in the restaurant in which she spent most of her childhood. Given her passion for gastronomy it was inevitable that she would follow in their footsteps. WG October 2017 -

79


ELENA ARZAK

The restaurant is still located in the family home where her father was born and grew up and where she lived as a child with her family. The family has since moved out to make room for the expansive wine cellar, the R&D kitchens and offices, but she has very fond memories of those years. She said, “There are two things that I remember the most. The first is when I was a very young child maybe five or six I smelt the aromas of food the moment I entered the restaurant but every Sunday that I would come in the smells were different. I especially remember the smell of squid and that of the first mushrooms that arrived in the kitchen. One thing I remember distinctly that even when the smells were intense they were very clean and I have never forgotten them.” “Another vivid memory is of playing in this very dining room, waiting for my mother or my father to get me when the guests arrived since I was only allowed to play while there were no guests. I would hide under the tables with my dolls and pretend that under the tablecloth draped tables was my own little house. I remember once I left one of my dolls under the table and the next day I was told that one of the guests had found it.”

80 - WG October 2017

CARABINEROS CON KRILL PHOTO © JOSÉ AVILLEZ


WG MAGAZINE

On my last visit, I walked into the kitchen to find Anthony Bourdain’s crew filming an episode for his show’s Spain episode with Juan Mari. With cameras underfoot the kitchen team, led by Elena, worked frantically to send out food into the dining room. I escaped up the back stairs into calm of the recently remodeled research kitchen and spice room. A comprehensive collection of spices and ingredients from every corner of the world lines the shelves of the Banco de Sabores and they figure prominently in dishes on the everchanging menu at Arzak. A few months ago, I explored the spice market of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul with her where she was in her element with her adventurous spirit and passion for exotic spices.

WG October 2017 -

81


ELENA ARZAK

82 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

After tasting a dessert on the menu with distinct taste of cloves and coconut, I was tempted to ask if her interest in spices had deepened over the years and if she found herself playing with bolder favors. She said, “Yes it’s true I do and find I take more risks now. I was just as much of a risk taker in my twenties and then became more restrained for a while and now I am back to it. You cannot have one style as a chef forever and your style changes though the base stays the same. I want to have different experiences with food. I notice over the years there are a lot of places that I haven’t visited yet and now I want to travel and explore more.” Her culinary education took her to Switzerland after finishing high school and for six years she traveled and worked with many great chefs such as Michel Roux, Michel Troisgros, Pierre Gagnaire, Claude Peyrot, Alain Ducasse, and Ferran Adria. Her language studies were no doubt an asset since she speaks Spanish, German, French, English and of course Euskara the language of the Basque Country. Her life revolves around her family, her husband Manu Lamos an architect, daughter Nora, son Matteo, and her parents and sister Martha who after studying art history is the Director of Education at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The Arzak restaurant has held three Michelin stars since 1989 and was voted #30 by the World’s 50 Best Academy in 2017. Not just food lovers, but also chefs from different parts of the globe make it their first stop in San Sebastián, for the food as well as to visit with Juan Mari Arzak and pay their respects. At seventy-four, he is still at the restaurant with Elena everyday overseeing the kitchen and feeding friends and family at the table in the kitchen. COMEDOR ARZAK PHOTO © JOSE LOPEZ

WG October 2017 -

83


ELENA ARZAK

“I imbibed the values from several generations which are very important for me. Even now I can hear my grandmother’s words and advice and I revisit them again and again” Elena has been the recipient of many awards and accolades including Chef de L’ Avenir, the Swedish Seafood award, the Best Female Chef of the World from the 50 Best Academy in 2012, and numerous others. She also serves on the technical committee of the Basque Culinary Center’s World Prize. In any gathering of chefs, the affection and respect her peers hold for her is evident while her infectious laughter makes it easy to locate her amongst the throngs. Lately her duties and responsibilities at the restaurant have increased as her father gradually steps back confident that she will continue to carry forth the family legacy. Your legacy and the family: A privilege or a responsibility? For me it’s a privilege because it’s not just a legacy but respect. It’s a matter of huge pride for me and the reason I joined this business in addition to the fact that I like this atmosphere. I grew up seeing my grandmother, father and mother invested in this business. I imbibed the values from several generations which are very important for me. Even now I can hear my grandmother’s words and advice and I revisit them again and again. No doubt I have a huge responsibility because the name Arzak has a well-known history and is famous in the culinary industry. It does exert pressure but sometimes such pressure helps you work harder and strive to be better. Without such pressure, you can get by without trying to excel so I feel you always need some pressure. As for me I am following the story of my family and the evolution with great pride.

84 - WG October 2017

PHOTO © JOSÉ AVILLEZ


WG MAGAZINE

JUAN MARI ARZAK & ELENA ARZAK PHOTO © COCONUT

WG October 2017 -

85


ELENA ARZAK

86 - WG October 2017

RAPE CLEOPATRA PHOTO © COCONUT


WG MAGAZINE

You have the persona of an accomplished chef, you are a daughter of the house, a mother, wife a sister but underneath all these layers who is Elena Arzak?

“I feel that life is not as complicated as we make it sometimes. I always find life to be interesting with many things around to discover”

I am very much my own person with my own personality and I am happy to be all these things to everyone but I am Elena first. A person from the Pays Vasque, who likes to be around people. I find people and I should say most everyone interesting. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do. I like to interact with different kinds of people and one thing about me that I can say is that I am a very positive person. I feel that life is not as complicated as we make it sometimes. I always find life to be interesting with many things around to discover. As a very practical person I don’t get upset or aggravated about inconsequential things. My opinion is that we should try to keep things simple without unnecessary complications. I view food in the same way and I am usually quiet unless I’m around people I know. Always active but always willing to listen as that is what people who know me will often say about me. Once people enter your circle they are usually there to stay because of your friendly personality. Have you always been good about bonding or building relationships? Always, even at school or with friends all I want is to make life agreeable as much as possible. Of course I realize I have been privileged in my life and career but I still have problems like anyone else. As for problems, I realize that there are many people with far more serious problems than I could ever face. There is a lot of suffering and more serious problems like hunger in the world. I do work very hard and very for long hours but compared to many others I am very fortunate.

WG October 2017 -

87


ELENA ARZAK

You are a very creative person. How important is freedom of expression to someone like you? It’s very important for all humans since we all have the capacity to be creative. For me that creative capacity is in cooking and all human beings through time have always shown this creativity in It’s an attitude, isn’t it? their cooking. It was in the mix of all cultures so for me this creative freedom and contact with other It certainly is and I can never stop working this way. people is very significant. When I was younger I I think there are many people in very bad situations remember I had no compunctions about expressing so I can never complain and I feel no one should. my creativity. Now I am older and more restrained There is so much conversation these days about the but I still have that freedom of expression. A tenpressure and stress on people in the industry, about year-old child is very honest with sharing their them getting burnt out. What is your opinion about opinions unlike older people. I like to ask young children what they would like to eat and they are this? never shy in answering. They are not conscious of I grew up never hearing my grandmother complain what they say and as we get older we lose that. I and she never took a day off. She didn’t take any feel we should be able to share and express freely vacations while we are very lucky these days that we at any age. To express your self is not so easy, get to take break or time off. Of course there are specially for chefs. I learnt to express myself by many things that we can improve in the kitchens saying Elena, stop think and express what you want to make them better work places. For our teams, to say in very simple words. we make schedules in such a way to enable them to work in an agreeable atmosphere, take time off with family. However, gastronomy is gastronomy and it comes with those pressures. It’s not that I like them but sometimes we need that pressure in the middle of service in the kitchen or dining room to work better. Things improve with time as they have from my grandmother’s time who never went out of the restaurant whereas I go on holidays and travel. I think we can improve many things by learning about organization. If chefs are well-organized like we chefs mostly are, but there is always more room for improvement. Of course there are long hours in this business but there are many other professions with such hours.

88 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

“A ten-year-old child is very honest with sharing their opinions unlike older people. I like to ask young children what they would like to eat and they are never shy in answering. They are not conscious of what they say and as we get older we lose that”

PICHON CON PLUMAS DE PATATA PHOTO © COCONUT

WG October 2017 -

89


ELENA ARZAK

90 - WG October 2017

EMPANADILLAS PHOTO © COCONUT


WG MAGAZINE

You are always so positive. How do you handle negativity or criticism? I learned from my father how to deal with those situations. Of course like any one I get sad when someone says something that I don’t like. Honestly I react very positively because I feel in order to progress and go far you need to be willing to accept criticism. There are two kinds of criticisms one is positive and the other destructive. I feel you need to be able to handle all the positive criticism as long as you teach yourself how to differentiate between the two. If you start to believe that you are the best of the best, then it is not good for your progress. We all make mistakes and if for instance you get a comment like it was very good but not salty enough then it simply means that the seasoning needs adjustment. WG October 2017 -

91


ELENA ARZAK

“I cannot imagine my life away from this restaurant. For me coming here is like coming to the dining room or living room of my own home” If you had gone out on your own instead of joining the family restaurant and your father would your life path have been very different? Looking at it one way I would say yes. Then it would have been more of myself or me but on the other hand it would have been just as busy and hectic as it is now. As for having gone out on my own I cannot imagine my life away from this restaurant. For me coming here is like coming to the dining room or living room of my own home. I see the same faces, personnel and staff who have been here a long time. Even when we change the decor there are small details like the doors leading into the dining room which are very old. For me they are the same doors from 40 years ago, and when I look at them I feel time has not changed and I am in the same home. You and your father are consulting on Ametsa in London. Have you ever wanted to open more restaurants? As we spoke about once earlier chef’s these days have become famous and are like celebrities now. We do get a lot of proposals to consult or open restaurants not because of our fame but because they like our food. Chefs need to know for themselves what they want and in the case of our family we can do consulting with our team called Arzak Instruction and we have a few such projects right now. There are others who can do more projects or open restaurants it is all a personal preference and attitude. It’s a personality that certain chef’s have to do these multiple projects. I respect the chef’s who do because they have the capacity for it. If we were all the same it will be very uninteresting.

92 - WG October 2017

TXIPI-TXAPA


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

93


ELENA ARZAK

Where do you see yourself five ten years from now?

94 - WG October 2017

PICHON ANARANJADO PHOTO © JOSÉ LÓPEZ


WG MAGAZINE

Not much will change or be different except I will cook differently for sure. If you look back ten years from this point it was all so different even in Arzak. When I look at pictures of food twenty years ago, I am amazed. In those days we thought we were super modern and when I look at those pictures I feel nostalgic but also realize it was a very old fashioned way of cooking compared to right now.

WG October 2017 -

95


ELENA ARZAK

96 - WG October 2017

PHOTO © COCONUT


WG MAGAZINE

You are always so busy working and your family is used to that, but do you build in time for yourself in your schedule? I know there are times when I miss important events of my family. I feel the transmission of values in my case affects how I view these things. I always think of my parents who are so proud and convinced about what I am doing and hence my desire to maintain that pride.

PHOTO © JOSE LOPEZ

“My husband and my children know and understand that there are times when I cannot be there but when I can I am always with them”

My husband and my children know and understand that there are times when I cannot be there but when I can I am always with them. I look at it from the point of quality over quantity of time I spend with them. There are instances, such as when my daughter who plays piano has a recital or concert at school, when I cannot go but thanks to my husband who videos it on his phone for me. I am thankful for the technology that allows me to watch those moments when my son is participating in a theatrical performance. Of course they always ask, “Mama can you come?” and if I can’t as is usually the case I tell them I will be there in spirit. The amusing thing is if they ask where I am going and I say to the restaurant then all is well but if I say I am going to the cinema then right away it’s “and we?” WG October 2017 -

97


ELENA ARZAK

As you observe the younger generation of cooks emerge, are there some elements in the industry you feel could or should change? For me as you know gastronomy is the most important part of my life and in recent years the media, TV, radio and internet has helped grow the interest exponentially. I am part of this industry and I feel very happy when it is in the news. I like do like quality but to me it doesn’t matter if there is competition on reality TV or a show about travel I feel that regardless the information will go out to many more people through these channels. Has such dissemination of information changed the preferences of guests?

PHOTO © COCONUT

A few years ago not that many people were interested in watching shows about cooking or food travel and now this has taken audiences a step further. With the variety of options even I entertain the ability to see shows of my choice. Of course some people idolize these reality shows while others take it as a source of information. When you go out to dine casually what do you look forward to or expect? I don’t go out much but when I do I like quality, I am not so concerned with style. Whether it is contemporary or traditional I always look for quality first. It’s also important that it is a friendly and welcoming place and the service is relatively quick. I don’t like to wait too long for food and whether it is a pinxtos bar or a Michelin star restaurant it has to be good quality foods foremost.

98 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

LUNA CUADRADA PHOTO © COCONUT

WG October 2017 -

99


ALAIN DUCASSE

hen Alain Ducasse is not jetting across the world to one of the 23 restaurants in his 19 Michelin star studded empire, he may be cooking, though not necessarily in one of his own kitchens. It might be Massimo Bottura’s Reffertorio soup kitchen in Milan, or the Lido 84 restaurant on Lake Garda for the Gelinaz chef shuffle or simply putting in an appearance at a chef event in Los Angeles. We met recently for a conversation about his passion for gastronomy and his quest for excellence in all his ventures, which are meticulously researched and planned to the last detail. No surprise that this perfectionist’s schedule includes four hours of tastings every day!

W

ALAIN DUCASSE THE “GLOCAL” FRENCH SUPERSTAR CHEF PHOTO © PIERRE MONETTA

100 - WG October 2017

The elegant, dignified and somewhat larger than life persona metamorphosed into an entirely different being as he spoke animatedly about a tasting in Paris the previous day and about his love of travel and architecture. There was a lilt in his voice and a sparkle in his eyes as he described his meal at a new LA hotspot adjacent to a museum or the second Gout de France event (initiated by him) happening around the world. His Breton wife Gwenaelle is an architect and the couple, along with their young son Arzhel, when not in Paris spend time on their farmhouse in the Southwest of France. Originally from the same area, he trained with greats like Alain Chapel, Roger Verge, Gaston Lenotre and Michel Guérard. These days Ducasse is sharing the knowledge acquired through his decades of work in the business via his training programs for the professional as well as novice cooks, numerous books including “Cooking for Kids” a cookbook for children.


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

101


ALAIN DUCASSE

The savvy entrepreneur heads an extensive culinary empire that stretches from France to London, New York to Las Vegas, Hong Kong to Tokyo and from Monte Carlo, Monaco all the way to Doha, Qatar. The three flagship restaurants at the Plaza Athenee in Paris, Le Louis XV (renamed the Alain Ducasse Restaurant) at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo and Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London hold three prestigious Michelin stars each. In addition to these, he has a Hotel & Chateau Collection, inns in the countryside, chocolate manufacturing, a consulting division, cooking school, and even a publishing company that produces many books authored by him. But wait the Chevalier of the Order of the Legion d’Honneur bestowed man is not done yet! The most recent project Champeaux, a contemporary brasserie at Forum Les Halles debuted in April of 2016 followed by Ore in Versailles. The royal Palace of Monaco with which he has a longstanding relationship since the time of Prince Rainier commandeered his services for the wedding celebrations of Prince Albert in 2011. The royal connection that began with Monaco continued with Ore -Ducasse at Chateau de Versaille within the gilded walls of the palace. The culinary world pays close attention to whatever he does and when he chose to introduce a “naturalite” menu at his Plaza Athenee restaurant a furor ensued over the mistaken impression that his restaurant was going vegetarian (His wife incidentally is a vegetarian.) The newly reopened, extensively refurbished restaurant in Paris lost a star for a year but quickly regained it returning to its elite status in the world of haute cuisine.

102 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

GAMBERONI CAVIAR

WG October 2017 -

103


ALAIN DUCASSE

104 - WG October 2017

HAND-DIVED SEA SCALLOP, BRAISED LETTUCE


WG MAGAZINE

“I am a professional in this industry and I like to say a local chef with a global expression. In every country where I have a restaurant I have a different story to tell the guests and diners” For a man constantly on the move traveling not only to his international operations but also taking the time to check out international food events and connecting with his younger peers he has taken the stage at events like MAD in Copenhagen and Mistura in Peru. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Le Louis XV in 2012 he invited 240 of the world top chefs from 25 countries for a unique gathering to facilitate sharing and exchange of professional knowledge and experiences. When I asked about the next such event where the chefs prepared over 100 dishes he smiled saying not anytime soon as it was a huge endeavor. The invitees ranged from René Redzepi to Joël Robuchon with whom he co-chairs the College Culinaire de France formed specifically to promote French Gastronomy. Last July when he was roped into the famous Gelinaz chef shuffle he exchanged his kitchen at Plaza Athenee with David Thompson from Bangkok who cooked his fiery Thai cuisine for one night while Ducasse himself cooked in Italy. Ducasse is not just an extremely successful practitioner of French cuisine but also a teacher who is still an ever-curious student himself, absorbing all he can from the world around him. He continues to expound on the significance of grand chefs like him sharing their knowledge with the next generation of chefs as he continues to unfold new projects. Since you are involved in so many different aspects of gastronomy, how would you describe yourself? Who is Alain Ducasse? I am a professional in this industry and I like to say a local chef with a global expression. In every country where I have a restaurant I have a different story to tell the guests and diners. WG October 2017 -

105


ALAIN DUCASSE

106 - WG October 2017

PEA VELOUT


WG MAGAZINE

French cuisine but it caters to the contemporary life style of present day guests since it dials back on certain products. These contemporary guests, though not always loyal, are however perpetually curious. Modern cuisine in itself doesn’t really exist, it is just the capacity to be current and in harmony with today’s society to seduce today’s diners to the table. It is the cuisine of 2017 as opposed to that of say 2007. It’s not the cuisine that itself is contemporary it is the just the necessary adaptation to our contemporary lifestyle. The description on the menu at your new Restaurant Champeux in Paris describes the cuisine as contemporary version of traditional. What should diners expect? It has the DNA of a typical French brasserie but it is more sexy, lighter, more refreshed and updated to fit the expectations of diners with more modern tastes. It’s an attempt to seduce the guests!

PHOTO © BENOÎT PEVERELLI

So is this what you refer to as a “glocal” sensibility? Yes and It’s still French cuisine but adapted to the market I am in. My restaurant in Doha, Qatar is a good example where the menu has influences of Indian, Lebanese, Middle East, and Morocco. The cuisine is very French but the flavors are very Middle Eastern since I mixed all the regional flavors to create the experience.

How do you bring a dish from the past into the present? You can bring any dish from the past and update it. Once you make the decision and then bring something from the past, you keep the character of the dish but give it a twist to evoke a fresh sensation. Each dish can have its own twist or a different factor to make it fresh and contemporary. In this era of easily accessible information, have you seen a change in the diners?

There is now a younger clientele taking an interest in gastronomy, and it’s a clientele that is very alive, curious, and communicative. They show off their experiences on social medal like Instagram. They What is modern French cuisine? are not necessarily loyal to a specific place or It’s a contemporary cuisine that is less rich, that fits person and their attention is constantly focused on into the present lifestyle; it has the DNA of traditional “What’s new out there”. It’s all for the “moment.” WG October 2017 -

107


ALAIN DUCASSE

What qualities do you look for in prospective employees and on their resumes, and is formal training a requisite? I want to see their eyes sparkle if they want the opportunity. The desire and passion must be there. I am more interested in what the individual is capable of doing versus what’s listed on a CV. I am open to everything and don’t necessarily look at their training. It’s the passion for their work and desire for the opportunity that I look for. Motivation, ambition, and their drive to excel and succeed are the important qualities. How was your experience during the Gelinaz Shuffle last year? I was at this restaurant in Lake Garda Italy (Ristorante Lido 84) and had a very interesting experience and the chef Riccardo Camanini is a great guy. I really liked him, his personality as well as his food. For me personally it was a great experience to work there since I believe if you have the technique and the right products you can cook good food anywhere. I thought it was a great idea to organize this event and we served a beautiful dinner to the guests that night. David Thompson from Nahm, Bangkok cooked his Thai cuisine at your Plaza Athénée restaurant. Did he bring in any fiery Thai chilies for the event? Absolutely, he is extremely talented and he served a great dinner to our guests. I absolutely love this whole idea of the chef shuffle. Just yesterday in Paris I tasted the cuisine of a young Taiwanese chef who has trained in Canada. He recently opened a restaurant in Hong Kong where I discovered a mix of Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and other Asian cuisines that I absolutely loved. So I invited him to present a tasting of his food in my Paris kitchen and of the nine or ten dishes he served, each was a different flavor. He identified the influences of each culture in the dishes and it was a great proposal. You have had a curiosity and interest about Chinese and Indian cuisine as you mentioned a few years ago. Have you since explored more of these cuisines? Every time I am in China I taste and experience the cuisine of China which is very complex and very difficult to comprehend because each region has its own and very different style. My chef who will be going to China at our restaurant there will be going six months ahead to research so when we do open it will be again the French DNA but encompassing those local flavors.

108 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

VENERE RICE, WILD FENNEL AND CITRUS CONDIMENT

WG October 2017 -

109


ALAIN DUCASSE

110 - WG October 2017

LOUP BETTERAVES AGRUMES


WG MAGAZINE

A few years ago you were contemplating a restaurant with Alex Atala in Brazil. Is that project still on the books?

FAISELLE AU LAIT CRU MIEL D ARBOUSIER ET DE PISSENLIT POLLENS

On that trip I visited Acurio and Atala, among other chefs in the region. I visited Alex in Brazil but it was not the right time to visualize a project in Brazil. Maybe we will still develop that idea one day in the future. These days besides the Michelin Guide there are lists such as the 50 Best and La Liste that have become a part of the conversation in gastronomy. Any thoughts on this subject? I am not so involved in this conversation but in Europe it’s still the Michelin that carries weight. It’s fantastic for the Roca brothers from El Celler de Can Roca to be named number one on the 50 Best List. And now Massimo Bottura is the second one on the list and as you know he worked with me and is very talented and who knows maybe in the next two or three years he will be at the top of the 50 Best List. Even if you place in the top ten of the 50 Best list its fantastic. The greatest difficulty in our industry is to ensure longevity to last beyond five ten years to over 25 years. According to you are there any young chefs who are destined to make positive changes in the industry. Is it important for young chefs to keep their egos in check to ensure the longevity of their careers? I actually find the chefs of the younger generation to be very modest. They have also have created a unique relationship amongst themselves in the industry. They are low key, fraternal and down to earth. There is not just one but in fact there are hundreds who will continue this story and make contributions.

POISSON DE PÊCHE LOCALE

WG October 2017 -

111


ALAIN DUCASSE

Is the job of a chef encompassing many other roles these days? It is the decision of the chef to take on these different roles. At the Plaza Athénée we play the role of a humanitarian and politician since the whole idea behind our menu is to encourage people to eat without depleting resources, to be sustainable, eat more grains and to mindfully protect the products and environment. It is the role of chefs to carry forth these humanitarian values. Dan Barber’s Stone Hill Barn is situated on a farm and now Noma is moving to an urban farm. Since these chefs exert a huge influence in the industry, are more such restaurants likely to pop up in the future? These are not easy propositions but they are going to come up. Dan Barber has been doing this so well for ten years at Stone Hill in New York and is really the best real example of such work. I have also been doing this at a lot of my restaurants and auberges and of course they are seasonal. You have a lot of women heading kitchens and other jobs in your organization, but is it fair to distinguish between chefs based on their gender instead of their talent? For me it a decision and not about gender. I have a female chef heading the kitchen at my Allard restaurant in Paris or at Benoit. I chose them because they are the best and I think that my chef at Allard is the best chef for that restaurant, and I don’t see any male chef being as capable for that job. She is ideal person to achieve what I want at that restaurant. It is a hard job and it’s easier for men and so it’s important to notice and recognize when women make a mark. We just talk about it more since it’s not as common. Even I tend to talk more about my female chefs than my male chefs though I regard them as equals in the field. Sometimes I will point them out to the men saying they are better than you!

112 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

113


ALAIN DUCASSE

114 - WG October 2017

PINTADON DES LANDES


WG MAGAZINE

Prince Rainier had challenged you to get three Michelin stars in four years for Monaco? Yes, and I decided to take the challenge and then I managed to get them in just 33 months. Have you always had such confidence in yourself, and where does this confidence come from? I believe that you just have to work and not doubt your abilities. You just have to be sure of your destination. The only problem is when you haven’t decided what you want to do in life. In order to accomplish your dreams you must have a clear vision at the outset. Did surviving a catastrophic air crash change the way you look at life? I realized that there were no insurmountable challenges and anything was possible. Even prior to the accident I had confidence but it certainly changed my vision making me realize the possibilities out there. Your destination is a decision you make yourself for your work or life and should be courageous in following. COQUILLE SAINT-JACQUES

What is your reaction to incompetence in the kitchen by one of the team members?

Do events like Gout de France boost the profile of French cuisine around the world? It’s a way to show off our cuisine, and that it’s alive and strong. One day I just woke up with this idea and the subsequent success of this event has exceeded my expectations. The aim was a 1000 restaurants and this year in 2016 we have a 1700 around the world, out of which just 250 are in France.

I just go ahead and show them how to do a better What are your other interests besides collecting job since for me it’s all about the teaching. vintage travel gear? Going back in time any recollections of your first day in the Hotel de Paris kitchens in Monte Carlo? Actually travel is also my passion and hobby. I had already dreamed and written down what I I believe it’s important for chefs to travel and as planned to do before I actually arrived there. I do for me I discover something new every time. I also remember was a Thursday on 27th May, 1987, and love architecture like that of Doha where my own everything was already in place to begin my work. restaurant is located in the new museum. WG October 2017 -

115


ALAIN DUCASSE

Favorite architects? I would say I. M. Pei, Jean Nouvel, and many other big names in architecture and design with different styles who have contributed to our cultural diversity. You have achieved so much in your life and are continuing to do more, but are you content with the status quo?

I am satisfied but always curious and impatient to do more. What is important is knowledge and transmitting that knowledge to the younger generation. To share the knowledge is my dream and that is why I write books, teach around the world and have a cooking school. I teach both in France and Canada, do collaborations around the world and publish books. You realized a dream you had held on to for thirty years to manufacture high quality chocolates. Are there any similar notions you have been harboring over the years? I have a lot of dreams, but I know I won’t be able to accomplish all of them. I have many, many dreams!

116 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

BABA AU RHUM, CREME MI MONT

WG October 2017 -

117


JOAN ROCA

JOAN ROCA OF THE FAMED EL CELLER DE CAN ROCA SHARES HIS VISION OF THE FUTURE

PHOTO © EL CELLER DE CAN ROCA

hef Joan Roca laughed out loud when I asked him if he is going to retire at some point. According to him, he is enjoying the best time in his professional career and has never entertained the idea of retirement though his wife Ana he thinks might have some hopes in that direction. He says this work ethic is in his DNA since his parents are in their eighties and still working. Anyway, his commute to work can never be the reason since he lives right above the restaurant, his windows overlooking the picturesque patio garden of El Celler de Can Roca. He credits that proximity for the recent interest in the family business by his teenage son Marc and his brother Josep’s son Marti, while hoping that their own youngest brother Jordi would soon add to the clan. The next generation of Roca’s accompanied the three brothers on their last world tour and chef Roca believes that the adulation showered on their fathers by fans on the trip may have something to do with that interest.

C

Chef Joan Roca Fontaine and his brothers, Josep (an internationally-recognized sommelier) and Jordi (one of the top pastry chefs in the world), are the force behind the avant-garde El Celler De Can Roca, which has come to represent the best of modern Spanish cuisine. The original restaurant opened in 1986 next to their parent’s bar on the outskirts of Girona and moved to its present location, as per Chef Michel Troisgros’ son Cesar Troisgros who was interning there at the time,

118 - WG October 2017

all in one afternoon between lunch and dinner service in 2007. Can Sunyer, originally a country house was remodeled with a modernistic aesthetic to accommodate the expansive kitchens, dining rooms and gardens of the restaurant. The three Roca brothers studied at the Girona Culinary School and Joan the head chef worked and traveled with Spanish chefs such as Ferran Adrià and Santi Santamaria but always stayed close to the family and his hometown of Girona. The exemplary hospitality at the three Michelin starred restaurant has its roots in this close-knit family culture exemplified by the symbolic ‘R’ in the name with its three shoots representing each of the three brothers. The restaurant has been a family operation since its inception and Joan says the creative processes at the restaurant are the result of the three minds working together in harmony. The triumvirate is also reflected in the triangular glass walled dining room and the three-sided enclosed garden in the middle of the space which at first glance appears to be an art installation with fallen leaves on the ground. On their recent menu, a cut out of the three in their childhood home is a backdrop to one of the courses, giving guests a peek into the family history. The course served “Memories of a Bar in the Suburbs of Girona” (their parents bar) included breaded squid, kidneys with sherry, Pigeon bonbon, salt cod with spinach and a Campari bonbon a few months ago.


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

119


JOAN ROCA

120 - WG October 2017

OSTRA AMB PERLA NEGRA


WG MAGAZINE

This passion represented in the restaurants modernistic cuisine with its undertones of nostalgia and the complex techniques developed in their research kitchen constantly sets the culinary world on edge. Jordi Roca’s desserts are equally brilliant, unforgettable and my favorite “Chocolate Anarchy” from a previous visit lost out to the “Orange Colorology” a delicate blown sugar bauble filled with tastes of passion fruit, tangerine, orange and carrot gels and granita on the tasting menu on my last visit. Packing the house at every congress or food event they speak or demonstrate their culinary skills at, all the way from the San Sebastián Gastronomika to Harvard University, the brothers are a significant force in the culinary world. The three Michelinstarred restaurant has been voted #3 by Restaurant Magazine on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2017, and was #1 in 2015. The annual shuffle of the top five of the list where they have consistently PUMPKIN CONSOMMÉ WITH GREEN TEA maintained their position, has also made it one of the most challenging restaurant reservations to land. They maintain an extensive research team at the restaurant exploring techniques, ingredients The brother’s annual travels and explorations are and philosophies. Joan Roca has authored many shared with their diners in the tasting menu as books and his “Sous-Vide Cuisine” is a highly “The World” presented at the table in the signature regarded reference in the culinary world. black/gray Japanese paper lanterns that open to reveal five tastes from exotic locales such as Korea, He is a charming man, very grounded, serene and Peru, Thailand, Japan and China. A Lamb course unfazed by his fame and fortune, a family man with eggplant, chickpea purée, lamb trotters and who goes to his parent’s restaurant for lunch, a spicy tomatoes on the fall menu was inspired by meal cooked by his mother every day for the whole the team’s time in Turkey earlier in the year. I asked extended family that includes the 50 or so staff about their last world tour and Joan Roca said, “It members. No surprise that the major influences was fantastic and we visited four continents and five on his cooking have been his mother Montserrat cities London, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Phoenix and grandmother Angeleta who he refers to as his and Santiago, and Chile on this whirlwind trip. It muse. His mother’s Riz Catalan or cassola is still was crazy but we will continue to embark on these his favorite comfort food and he shared the recipe in his “Roots” cookbook a few years ago. adventures.” WG October 2017 -

121


JOAN ROCA

122 - WG October 2017

XAI AL FUM DE REGALISA


WG MAGAZINE

With the upcoming 50 Best restaurants awards in Melbourne, Australia there is much ado in the culinary circles about who will be #1 or # 2 and so on. Is this list significant or is it distracting chefs from their work?

Conversing in the lounge facing the sun-dappled interior courtyard was Deja vu since my first interview with a chef was with him sitting in the same spot.

To some extent it is a distraction and on the other hand it has become quite significant for cooks. It’s a new phenomenon in the world of cooking, a world new order and it has transformed everything. At the same time, I feel we cooks must stay distant and maintain our focus or it is quite possible to go overboard with this stuff. The first few years it’s was very different because it was all like a big party where the all the chefs had fun but these days it’s replaced by a lot of tension. I feel that now they must revert back to that beginning, by keeping that distance in order to alleviate the tension. We should treat it like a big party that we all go to have a drink or two together and relax. Has it shifted the chef’s focus from their cuisine? Yes, it has and has turned the work into a big show or entertainment. It’s true that it’s been very fortunate for us and we are thankful for all the success being on the 50 Best has brought us. Now no one knows how they choose the restaurants. One interesting thing is that the Michelin Guide stars are there to stay but the 50 Best List changes every year. In some ways it’s unfair because it places everyone from one to fifty. However I do remember the first time we were #1 and I was very thankful and Josep was the happiest.

WG October 2017 -

123


JOAN ROCA

124 - WG October 2017

RAYA CONFITADA


WG MAGAZINE

Is the press representing and reporting on the industry in a responsible manner or they are working on pre-conceived ideas of what they want to share? Many times they project an idea or opinion that they have already and not many people like you travel around the world and are aware of what’s happening around the world. They need to learn more about the chef’s, their work and their food before putting forth their opinions. There is an ongoing debate about the kitchens of the future. What do you think tomorrow’s kitchens will be like? PRAWN MARINATED WITH RICE VINEGAR

Are the chefs making the list important or is it the other way around? Oof! That is a great question and I have to think about this one. The list is very subjective and places chef’s in an order that might not be very fair to everyone. It’s crazy but in the end the list is more important I feel than the chef’s themselves. Due to this list now everyone knows everyone else in the food industry around the world and the work they are doing. The list provides great press for chefs and restaurants but for the general public the list is like a recommendation. As for the chef’s it’s not totally fair across the board.

I feel that what is really changing is a conscience that is growing rapidly not only in cooks but also in society. There are two aspects to it one is in the restaurants where we will evolve towards a cuisine that will be very connected to the terroir, the roots and the culture. A kind of real and authentic restaurant will evolve which will be like a working live (living) project. This will become increasingly important all over the world in the future. Sustainability and creative values will be very important for future kitchens and especially in these new kinds of restaurants. At this point it may seem like a farfetched dream but I am sure it’s going to happen and I myself like to dream on. It’s certainly going to change this global homogenization of cuisine and the food industry in general. The food industry will show more diversity and it’s going to break the current pattern and move towards authenticity. WG October 2017 -

125


JOAN ROCA

When chefs take influences from different cuisine and create a new concept, are we losing the specific nuances of that cuisine? Is it a positive change? I do agree with that but I feel the authenticity of food will not be lost over time. By my travels, I have learned that there are many chef’s around the world who have very authentic proposals, based on their environment, their own roots who represent the local point of view and the local culture. This is the way in which cuisine can break this standardization which I feel really comes from nouvelle cuisine. I can recollect visiting many restaurants in earlier days with same kind of ingredients like foie gras and telling the same story internationally. The term ‘chef’ is used very loosely these days by young people regardless of whether they lead a team or are a part of one. In your opinion, what is more appropriate, “Chef” or “Cook”? I call myself a cook. The word chef has been glamorized and is seen as more fancy. Professionally the word chef is perceived to get more respect in society and I feel that is the reason it is used across the board. Is it because chefs have become social personalities with wider influence over society, politics, lifestyle, and culture? How much has this role changed during the course of your career? I perceive it as a positive change in spite of the downside of glamorization of the chef’s. I remember when I was young wanting to be a cook was not very well received. It required a lot of patience along with boldness and daring to be a cook. Now people are proud to be a cook or chef and socially it is more accepted and prestigious. That is a good thing because among all these young cooks there is some great talent which is going to make the industry evolve towards the local and authentic cuisine we spoke about earlier.

126 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

“I call myself a cook. The word chef has been glamorized and is seen as more fancy. Professionally the word chef is perceived to get more respect in society and I feel that is the reason it is used across the board”

OSTRA CON SALSA ANÉMONA

WG October 2017 -

127


JOAN ROCA

128 - WG October 2017

LANGOUSTINE WITH COCOA BEAN SAUCE


WG MAGAZINE

Is the conversation about biodynamic, sustainability, and food waste leading to changes in the industry?

CONSOME DE PRIMAVERA

Does the current fast track to celebrity status lead to arrogance and a loss of humility? How do you stay so grounded with all your success? This humility is not acquired since it’s an attitude and you cannot pretend to be humble. It’s comes from within and from your own personality and it’s not about pretending or acting to be this way. My brothers and I were brought up in this working class and very humble neighborhood. Our neighborhood had all kinds of people including immigrants from outside and it helped form our perspective on life. We brothers learned everything about hospitality at our parent’s restaurant since we literally grew up there We have been able to achieve our success because of our family values. For all of us including the whole team going to eat lunch at our parent’s restaurant every day is a way of keeping our feet on the ground. This helps us maintain a healthy distance from all the trappings of success.

It is easy to see that there is a tendency to follow the present trend but it’s not that bad because a lot of people are talking this subject seriously. As with everything there are those who are pretending to be on this track but others who are making positive change. The balance I feel tips towards the positive. Since you travel extensively what do you visualize as the major change in restaurant operation or cooking over the next decade? The direction is strong and leading towards a cuisine which will be that of a cook. The cooks are going to find that place where they will be in touch with the environment and things that are real and true to them. They will also be preoccupied with facing the big challenge that our planet is facing about depleting food resources. This will deeply connect cooks to their environment and that will become the focus of their attention. It is will be more than the current awareness or a romantic notion, but more an urgency. There will be a sensibility to this cause and a solidarity amongst us to combat hunger. I foresee cooks becoming involved in big campaigns and projects to deal with hunger. If you ask any cook or chef to support these issues the chefs are liable to give an affirmative response even before learning the details. It is in the DNA of chef’s to be sensitive and stand in solidarity. WG October 2017 -

129


JOAN ROCA

The kitchen is the heart of the home and a restaurant is the heart of a community. Your kitchen is acknowledged as the biggest influence in modern Spanish kitchens. Does that responsibility affect your work? I think there are many of us in Spain and elsewhere in the same position. It’s true that it’s puts great responsibility on us and so we take decisions after very careful consideration. That is why we work in a considered and ethical manner and in responding a lot of things and projects we are requested to do on a daily basis. It is critical for us with our position of responsibility to the industry. So even if we are offered a lot of money for a project that does not fall within our ethical code we tend to turn it down. Our work is not about or for the money. It’s our personal attitude and how we view life and not just because of this sense of responsibility. It’s an ongoing conflict against our own personal values.

130 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

JARRETE DE TERNERA CON PERRECHICOS, TUÉTANO, TENDONES, AGUACATE TERROSO Y TRUFA

How important are culture, core values, and family support for you in your work? It’s not just culture but also knowledge, human nature, passion and common sense. You have to know your limits about what is possible or not in restaurants as well as in the kitchen. Everyone has the capacity to develop their own project as a commitment to their society. It is a life’s work and that to me means the concept of life’s project restaurants that I envision in the future.

WG October 2017 -

131


JOAN ROCA

132 - WG October 2017

OASTRA VAPOR AMONTILLADO


WG MAGAZINE

we are assisting in restoring agricultural practices and in conservation. We have joined in that project as consultants to develop a program to teach local farmers to increase their production, and in reviving old methods of grain storage and helping them market their products in order to progress economically. Are techniques and transformation of products in the kitchen still relevant in restaurant kitchens, or do diners expect more natural and organic food? Technique and technology are here to stay and will be more important in the future even with the shift to more organic cooking. We ourselves are moving towards organic in our kitchens but are working with modern innovation.

Guests at your restaurant come to enjoy a special experience and socialize, not to satisfy their hunger. How can cooks at exclusive restaurant like yours participate in dealing with this issue? We can do a lot to deal with the problems of people in this situation even from kitchens like ours. Cooks like us can cook for soup kitchens, homeless shelters in our local communities or with the Red Cross. David Hearth in Rio has taken a step in this direction by actually teaching people to cook and giving them a skill instead of just feeding them. For the last three years, I have joined with Action Against Hunger in their campaign in Spain. They invite restaurants to designate one dish in their restaurant from which all the monies go to support the operation. As a goodwill ambassador for the UN in Nigeria I am actively assisting in their efforts in that region. There is a large farming area where

I actually feel that technology and modernity are not in opposition to natural and organic cooking. Technology for the sake of effect does not make sense and in our kitchens; we use it very sensibly and for concrete reasons. As with any revolution there are negatives and it’s happened with the technological revolution in the kitchen. Our use of technology in Spanish kitchens has at times been viewed in that way since many people just use it for effect or to be cool. Cooks are putting their thoughts and ideas on plates and are always at risk of being judged. How do you react to criticism or negative comments, and are you ever tempted to respond to them? They certainly need to be daring and brave. I am sixty now, but my DNA still does not allow me to be a rebel in that way by responding. My rebellion lies in forgetting any negatives that come my way. I prefer not to react because that is exactly what the person unleashing that negativity expects. I have my feet very firmly on the ground and feel that being kind and even better at your work is the way to deal with it instead of aggression. WG October 2017 -

133


JOAN ROCA

Is the legacy at El Celler De Can Roca going to be carried forward by the next generation? It’s hard to say what the younger generation will do in the future. Is it in the DNA? (Laughing) I don’t know but as you know we live right above the restaurant and all his life my son has been around the restaurant but for fifteen years he never realized it. Last year he finally comprehended for the first time that right below his house there is a restaurant. (Laughing). I never tell my children what to do but have left the choice up to them and now he has come to work in the kitchen. My brother Joseph’s son Marti is sixteen and he came with us on the trip and is also experimenting in the kitchen. They are both still observing and taking it all in. Joseph and I both have one daughter each and we now waiting on Jordi to match us. So, this House of Roca is going to carry on in the future? It would be beautiful if it happens. We three brothers visualized this project for the three of us and never thought about it going forward when we started. I also feel that maybe this does not need to have continuity and we don’t dream of it continuing. It grew organically over the years as we grew ourselves. We don’t have anyone invested in this business but us and we don’t owe anyone. If we decide to close it one day we can and we don’t really expect our sons to step up and take over. Sometimes parents create something very big and need their children to step in to help but we were very practical and grew within our limits without accruing any debts. So we have the freedom to make the decision.

134 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

JOSEP, JOAN & JORDI ROCA

WG October 2017 -

135


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW KEEPING IT REAL THE RESTAURANT AT MEADOWOOD PHOTO © KELLY PULEIO

hristopher Kostow of the three Michelin starred Restaurant at Meadowood in California has been propagating haute cuisine based on seasonal ingredients sans technical wizardry since 2008. A onetime philosophy student at Hamilton College, this Chicago transplant is deeply entrenched and invested in the Napa Valley that has been his playing field for the past nine years.

C

Kostow, who helms one of the best restaurants in the world, has a wicked sense of humor as illustrated by the hilarious videos posted on Instagram during the World’s 50 Best restaurants last year when they were listed at #67 Such self-deprecation requires bravado but also confidence stemming from having arrived at the apex of the culinary world. Before heading to California, Kostow trained and worked in France at bistros as well as, Michelin starred restaurants including Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. Prior to arriving at Meadowood in 2008 he had put in stints at Campton Place in San Francisco and Chez TJ in Mountain View where he reeled in two Michelin stars for the restaurant. In 2011 the three Michelin stars arrived in recognition of his holistic approach at Meadowood followed by the Best Chef West award by the James Beard Foundation in 2013. In 2017 he was nominated for the JBF Outstanding Chef honor along with other peers across the country. His book “A New Napa Cuisine” published in 2014 relates his journey and offers an insight into his work at Meadowood.

136 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

137


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

Guests at the restaurant drive through the sprawling luxury resort to arrive at the free-standing restaurant. The interior is a study in understated luxury reminiscent of an old-world country estate. Guests step through the massive front door into a chic lounge area with leather chairs, fireplaces and vintage books. The wine country chic decor belies the sophisticated food and the faultless service that follows. The vaulted ceiling supported by red wood columns and granite tables in the softly lit dining room offers a serene space to enjoy the tasting menu. A seat at the Chef’s Table is what food enthusiasts swear by or the bar with its three-course menu comes at a friendlier price point.

138 - WG October 2017

BROTH OF SPRING LAMB AND ARTICHOKES


WG MAGAZINE

Depending on the season the chefs counter menu can showcase a, oyster with kohlrabi, beef smoked in dry onion tops, cherry trout with a buckwheat skin, eel smoked over Cabernet staves (it is the wine country after all), lamb stuffed Egyptian style baladi, or a decadent egg yolk cooked in chicken fat with homemade marmite and sourdough fingers to dip into, finishing with a chocolate walnut pan apple pastry cup or a beeswax candle warmed truffled crimeaux de citeaux with honeycomb, all paired with wines from the considerable wine list. A taste of Kostow’s cuisine in the elegant restaurant at the luxury resort comes with a hefty price tag. A seat at the Chef’s counter will cost $600 excluding libations and service charges. The restaurant recently adopted a pre-paid policy along with a price hike while switching to the TOCK reservation system. His new culinary venture Charter Oak opened in the summer of 2017. Kostow has partnered with his front of the house collaborator Nathaniel Dorn in this project. In the kitchen Chef Katianna Hong is translating the forward-thinking chef’s ethos on to plates.

WG October 2017 -

139


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

What is your favorite design or element in the new space at Charter Oak? I think it’s the overall vastness and scale of the space with twenty-foot-high ceilings. It has a beautiful courtyard with mulberry trees and red brick that give it a sense of grandeur in a Californian style. The decor is very minimal as we are trying to showcase the building with exposed red brick, blackened steel and old wood floors. What is different about the food or service as opposed to The Restaurant at Meadowood? It’s all family style and hyper casual and most things are served off a large hearth in the middle of the room. The space is very big so it lends itself to a self-exploratory experience for guests. Is there something that will surprise guests? I think the absence of service will surprise guests as it is a very hands off approach to dining. There is no wait staff fawning over tables and though there are white coats but only running the food and it will all feel very natural. What kind of guests do you envision at Charter Oak as opposed to Meadowood, which is a resort setting? The clientele will run the gamut of guests looking for great dining and sophistication. We expect to have people from every walk of life and place. It is what drove this concept of simplicity. I feel that people who know a lot about food will appreciate the beautiful simplicity. People who don’t on the other hand can still appreciate it as it is understandable. It was very important for us that we were able to appeal to a vast majority or a wide swath of people that come to visit Napa Valley. From a socioeconomic and food point of view we will have a little bit of everything.

140 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

141


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

142 - WG October 2017

DAY LILY SOUP, CAVIAR, RADISH


WG MAGAZINE

Does location affect the ability to draw diners to Napa since it is not a large metropolis? Do you get a lot of international visitors? I think that more than distance we are impacted by weather and traffic. The sheer number of people coming to the valley is such that it keeps us very busy. We are obviously not waiting for people to walk in the door and we also get guests from the luxury hotels around us. I would say our clientele is probably 15% to 20% international. The Instagram videos you posted last year about placing #67 on the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list were hilarious. What were they about? We don’t want to come across as bitter or angry but we believe very strongly in the work we do. To be told that we were #67 in anything was to us a bit funny and irritating at the same time. Lists like OAD which I think is ridiculous where we are rated #6 for example and the guy doesn’t know my name and has never even been here. As for the voting for lists like San Pellegrino are they saying that so many people went to Lima? No way! Or to Moscow? No way! So you can question many of these rating processes. On OAD we are very well considered on the list but every year they call me Craig Kostow and talk about dishes we had ten years ago on the menu. For ten years that we have been open he has never visited so how does he decide this list. The problem is that chef’s grant validity to these events by appearing there or by participating.

WG October 2017 -

143


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

Is that the reason some chefs don’t even show up at the 50 Best awards? I don’t think I would show up. It’s all very self-congratulatory and whether you are #3 or #103 on the list it doesn’t matter. The idea that we all get in a room, patting each other on the back! It’s crazy. We are just chefs; we aren’t curing cancer or anything. Chefs or restaurants who are smarter than me do take advantage of the business these lists bring in and they make very specific campaigns to be on these lists. What bothers me is that the rest of the journalistic world is all about the headline that reads” World’s Best Chef” cooking a dinner or something. It isn’t just like adopting a phrase that someone verbalized like World’s Best Restaurant chef doing a pop up for example. So, are they saying it is the World’s best? Have they even been there? No, it’s just what the list says. Doesn’t that stem from the fact that most people writing these stories don’t have knowledge or understanding of the chefs or their work? That is true because they don’t understand the chef or the work they are doing, they haven’t experienced the cuisine, don’t understand the differences between chefs and simply put they have no context. It’s like me becoming an opera reviewer. What do I know about opera? Nothing and I can go to one and say yeah sure it was great.

144 - WG October 2017

ABALONE IRRIDESENCE


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

145


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

146 - WG October 2017

HALIBUT POACHED IN WHEY, UNRIPE APPLE, HERBS


WG MAGAZINE

How significant is the role of food critics these days, since social media has enabled anyone to be a critic? Do they still influence public opinion? We are in a fortunate position right now, and it may not last forever [but] we don’t really worry, for instance, when a journalist comes in for dinner. We ourselves have such high expectations which are way higher than anyone else would have from us. So the idea that we are going to be worried when someone walks in the door doesn’t apply. If we are worried, then that means that we are not doing our jobs well. We need to please ourselves and work up to our own standards and expectations first.

“The idea that we are going to be worried when someone walks in the door doesn’t apply. If we are worried, then that means that we are not doing our jobs well”

Granted that we have a greater degree of knowledge in order to make these experiences vis a vis are we doing a good job or not according to someone else. It is scary to be granting the power to opinionated knuckle heads to judge us. Sure, they have the power to and do change opinions. I feel there is a mudding of waters by Michelin or Pellegrino sponsored list and now what seems like a million other lists. The average consumer on face book doesn’t know the difference, they don’t know which one was anonymous, which one was paid for. Every day there is a list that taps the top ten restaurants of Napa or Tulsa or someplace else and eventually the diners cannot differentiate after being bombarded repeatedly with this information. Do the chefs help popularize these lists, or is it the other way around? Some very well-known chefs were around at the inception of this stuff and chefs give these lists validity. If the chefs didn’t show up for the awards or didn’t put it out on their twitter feed, then they wouldn’t enable this process. No doubt it benefits us and having three Michelin stars makes us a lot more money. WG October 2017 -

147


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

Are the three Michelin stars more validating than all of these lists? I feel all of it has value relatively since this business is about attracting guests and talent to your team and all that. It’s nice to get the three stars but at the end of the day I don’t think much about any of this really other than on days that these things happen. Does that realization come in a later stage of your career? That is true because by then you have put more into it and so then the idea that someone else is going to tell you if it’s worth it or not seems silly after all these years. If your whole career or credibility is based on some guide or list that seems like an uneven exchange of your energies and emotions. Is fine dining an elitist concept in the US? People here in the US don’t think much about paying $1000 for a television but will not be so willing to pay that for a meal. It’s really a question about our value system and in Europe people don’t readily buy huge expensive cars like they do here. As for if it is elitist, it’s certainly expensive but that doesn’t make it elitist. It all depends on how you execute your products, how you interface with your guests, with your community and the media. That can make it elitist because it can be perceived that way. The price is the price as any other chef in the same situation (three stars) will tell you and regardless we are all busy. So it isn’t that we have to justify what we charge our consumers.

148 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

FOIEVOCADO, CHRYSANTHEMUM, DILL

WG October 2017 -

149


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

Do you feel media raises people’s expectations inordinately? If we are going to charge $400 for dinner, we better make it exceptional irrespective of anything. So I think people should come in with incredibly high expectations but having said that there also seems to be a meeting halfway between the guest and the restaurant. Some people come in and want the Alinea effect with smoke and mirrors. Others want more French style lobster poached in butter and so some people do come in with all these preconceived ideas instead of going in with an open mind. If people do that and meet the restaurant halfway and we are executing correctly on our end, then the experience is worth every penny for sure. While preparing the menu for the season or choosing products, what do you want your diners to experience? Is the visual effect or the flavor first? The possibility of elegance and luxury in otherwise simple things is what we want them to experience. It might be a risotto made with the seeds of a cucumber for example or a single potato pulled out of the ground and things of that sort are most interesting for me to present. Then it puts the onus on us as you have to make sure that it’s really well done otherwise you are serving a mediocre potato for a $100/ person. That is not honest cooking according to me. We have a vision of the art of Wabi-sabi or the art of the imperfect like serving things out of the ground as they are. (Wabi-sabi is a Japanese view of the acceptance of imperfections) But we are really cooking and not putting a potato on a plate but without over manipulating it. We think we cannot make it better than nature made it but our job is just to showcase those things that we grow ourselves in the best way possible. To grow these products, we are selective in what we are choosing to plant and how we are growing them and what is the ideal time to harvest. Our goal is to make everything pure.

150 - WG October 2017

YOGURT CULTURED WITH ROSE


WG MAGAZINE

Are concepts like local, seasonal organic or non GMO understood and followed by only a small proportion of the population in the US and are they more of a trend? In earlier times there is was no option other than seasonal but nowadays you can buy anything at any time of the year. You see that more readily elsewhere or in cities than you see out here in Napa. At the end of the day seasonal products taste better and are cost effective too. One night we were serving asparagus but we knew it wasn’t going to be as good as it was coming out of Mexico and it cost more because of the distance. So I don’t think these concepts are a trend. Even creatively we need limitations, such as those that seasons can provide. You can cook virtually anything in the world but it’s really hard to cook good food. If at a certain time of the year (Summer) we have cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplant, melons, whole beans etc. coming out of the ground and line cod out of the water then that is what we are going to cook with. The end result in that case is always much better. Sometimes if you travel to a city like SF and dine out every night then very often it seems like you are eating the same food though it may be plated differently. Why is that? If you go to Tokyo during Ayu fish season you will find every restaurant serving it. It’s the same when you go to Lyon in France when a certain product is in season. There is something to be said about regionality in cooking of course but on the other hand there are trends encouraged by Instagram or social media in general. It’s very easy for people to appropriate what you are doing. Restaurants like ours are sort of incubators for these ideas that trickle down and eventually become part of the industry. That is true of every creative field like arts, architecture or fashion that ideas filter down. WG October 2017 -

151


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

Is American gastronomy going to be affected by the win at Bocuse d’Or this year?

What are the problems in the food industry that are not vocalized by restaurateurs and chef’s in public?

It seems like you are playing someone else’s sport for sure. I don’t care if we are bad at it like soccer since we are bad at other sports like cricket too. I don’t think it’s a reflection of where the food movement is going. I go to Paris and I feel Paris is ripping off Brooklyn. Brooklyn more or less ripped off Portland and what is happening in Paris did not start in Paris. These are inherently American style restaurants.

It’s probably true and it will impact that and will lead to more automation. Look at the advent of new ovens where you can push a button and cook a chicken. There is a lot more of that happening and I feel there will also be less technical cooking since it requires more man hours. No doubt about it.

Just because of all the attention focused on chefs and restaurants we cannot forget the economics of this business. That is totally lost on everyone who It’s great that they won but Bocuse d’Or etc. is not say, “Oh! Cooks should make more money or there my cup of tea and I don’t see the relevance of that should be more paid leave in restaurants, etc.” In to the state of restaurants in the country. No one in that case you are trying to normalize an industry the US cares about that stuff. Chef’s like Thomas that is inherently not normal and has razor thin Keller and Daniel Boloud are certainly trying to margins. Just because it’s popular or glamorized work on that. It’s great but I could not care less now it doesn’t make it any different from 50 years about it because for me it has nothing to do with ago. what I do. With the wage hikes are there eventually going to Is it because it is adapting the French culture to be fewer employment opportunities in the business? ours?

Are white tablecloth restaurants disappearing as even you have bare tables in your restaurant?

What are the common issues facing the restaurant industry in the US these days? Are mid-range A lot of that is a reflection of aesthetics and the other is labor. It costs money to do that. I still like disappearing in cities? them even though we took ours off a few years That is where it’s going with the costs of labor and ago. It’s also about the guest’s expectations. I don’t rents. You are seeing a lot of fast casual and then think guests these days expect that or equate what the high end. Recently a lot of restaurants closed they are paying with cloths on the table. I don’t in San Francisco within a short span of time even think many three star restaurants in the Bay Area those by people with big names. Some were barely have them anymore. I would go back to it if I did something high end but in a different way. open six months.

152 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

BABY CORN

WG October 2017 -

153


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

Do you think the days of so-called “molecular cuisine” over? I understand what people mean by molecular cooking but all cooking is essentially molecular. If I make gelatin or pasta, it’s all about understanding how chemicals react. The sort of overt presentation such as here’s a sphere of this or that is not seen much anymore. At least in three star restaurants no one seems to be doing a lot of that. It should probably disappear as it’s never going to be as good as a perfectly cooked potato for example. I have no desire to eat that food myself. Are the young culinary school grads wellgrounded in the basics of cooking? I was recently at the culinary school in Hyde Park in New York and it is a pretty impressive curriculum. As you know I didn’t go to culinary school and I was really impressed by the depth of the education they provide. However, at the end of the day cooking is about repetition and doing something a million times till you perfect it. So you are not going to come out of there knowing what you are doing but some of these schools are providing a good training.

154 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

155


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

156 - WG October 2017

COD, ROASTED CABBAGE, SAUCE OF OYSTERS AND NETTLES


WG MAGAZINE

You didn’t attend one so do you think this necessary or you are better off exploring your own creativity? No matter what you do you need to know how to do basic cooking. Creativity is not enough and the worst thing is when chefs are creative without knowing the basics of cooking. That results in bad food and incidentally a lot of cooks who are self-taught trained themselves how to cook by studying. I spent a lot of time with chefs like Thomas Keller or Charlie Trotter who didn’t go to culinary school, but they really studied on their own. Do guest’s expectations rise in correlation to your stars and fame, etc.? How do you rise up to meet those expectations? There has to be a relentlessness about the whole thing. The whole team has to be always trying to get better. Just having your eyes open and being in the restaurant is important. For us it’s re doing our plate program, or expanding the garden, adding orchards or animals to raise so we can get better. The menu development for one never stops in our kitchen. Even on the day we are closed I am in here all day working on stuff and we have been doing that for almost ten years now. That is the reason why I don’t worry about what anyone has to say because we are pushing incredibly hard ourselves. Chef’s egos rise in proportion to their celebrity or renown and it seems more in the US. Why? It’s not just more American chefs but chef’s in general are egoistical. By nature, chefs are more insecure and ego driven people. You are in a business where you work super hard to get noticed and be appreciated. The kind of people who gravitate towards that are those that look for instant gratification and for whom the opinions of others are very important. Top Chef stuff is huge even in France from what I have seen. That I feel is across borders and in the US there is lower tolerance for some of the foolery that exists certainly in the French kitchens. WG October 2017 -

157


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

Is there a shortage of cooks in the US? I think it exists everywhere in the world. Even when I staged in Michelin starred restaurants in France I would work different stations as a stage. They couldn’t staff their kitchens and that is why you saw all these Japanese stagiares everywhere. Most people there worked 40hrs/week so no one wanted to work 80 hours a week in a restaurant back in the day. It’s a huge problem in Europe even these days as well as no one wants to work such hours any more. There is a shortage of service staff too. Is that why we see cooks bringing dishes to the table? Definitely and we do that now and I think we are going to do exclusively that kind of service at Charter Oak. We are lucky that we don’t have any issues finding great people but moving into a more casual operation I can see that happening.

158 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

STEAMED POTATO COD PURSLANE BRANDADE

WG October 2017 -

159


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

You have your own gardens and you use what you grow in the restaurant. Why are so many restaurants maintaining their own gardens these days?

160 - WG October 2017

FIELD PEAS

THE CHARTER OAK VEGETABLES FROM OUR FARM, FERMENTED SOY DIP


WG MAGAZINE

At first, it’s about competition between chefs. When you see chefs who are growing beautiful things others want to do that too. There are some social elements to it but at the end of the day these chefs are spending the money in pursuit of making their restaurant better. It is a monstrous undertaking to grow your own products. If it’s a trend it’s not going to last long because it requires incredible commitment, financial resources and professional expertise. We have a team of six people and allocate a $100,000 to the garden because it is central to everything we do.

STEAMED POTATO

SUNFLOWER PASTA

WG October 2017 -

161


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

162 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

You have two young children. In this rapidly evolving culture, what would you like to preserve for them? Open spaces for one. Napa is very beautiful but it’s all privately owned now. What would you like to bring back to the food culture? For the story to go on for the next generation? Locally I feel as I said in my book it’s about a certain mindfulness of what’s happening around you. Whatever results from that mindfulness is up to an individual or chef. As long as you understand the history of a place, support local people and help them pursue their own agricultural endeavor and bring along local artisans. The result will all be different for each individual. What is happening in Napa is that there is a very homogenous planned vanilla development because people don’t dig deep into what’s happening around them. Is this a cultural effect? I think economics plays a very huge role in this. If you are catering to wealthy tourists that impacts the food and if the cost of doing business is high, then you won’t have young entrepreneurial chefs opening small progressive restaurants. It’s the economics in all the markets that drives the food culture. WG October 2017 -

163


CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW

What was your experience at Osteria Francescana during the Gelinaz chef shuffle? The whole experience was really fun and really enjoyable. The concept of popping up above all is all about opening doors to interesting collaborative processes. From an interpersonal relationship point of view, it is really interesting to meet all these people. Restaurants can be very insular places where we are all are super focused on work. And pursuing our own stories. It is interesting to pop up in someone’s kitchen across the world and meet all the people involved. It was my first visit and it was great spending time in Modena with Massimo (Bottura) his wife Lara, son Charlie and the team. Last year you took a break from the Twelve days of Christmas. Is it back on for 2017? Yes, we just took a year off and we are holding it again this year with a very insane lineup of guest chefs. It’s going to be very interesting is all I can say till we officially announce the event. We enjoy having our friends come and cook with us. It’s great for the team and the community who get exposed to these different chefs. It’s been a great event for us and we are looking forward to the next one. So, who is on this year? (Laughing) I am not disclosing that right now but stay tuned for the news!

164 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

165


RENÉ REDZEPI

166 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

RENÉ REDZEPI

NOMA PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE PHOTO © LAURA L.P./HDG PHOTOGRAPHY

n a drizzly, cold and grey day in Copenhagen after a hectic lunch service ended and the clamor of the staff lunch had died down René Redzepi the acclaimed Danish chef of Noma sat down with me for an interesting conversation. He had just announced the imminent closing of Noma, his two Michelin-starred restaurant, which shot four times to the top spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List and was on every food enthusiasts bucket list. It was a year for other moves as he and his wife Nadine had found their dream home in a 17th century building and moved en famille with their three daughters and his mother: all this while planning the Sydney adventure with his team. The documentary “Noma: My Perfect Storm” released at the same time creating yet another furor in the media about him while he spent the holiday season on the sandy beaches of Tulum in the Yucatan.

O

Redzepi is probably the most recognized name in the restaurant business, as the crusader of Nordic cuisine, a topic unheard of until he appeared on the gastronomic horizon. Extremely intelligent, articulate, and honest, there is a charisma about him that draws others into his world; a unique environment created by this young chef: part researcher, part explorer, part dreamer, and despite his renown still a regular guy. WG October 2017 -

167


RENÉ REDZEPI

In an age when chefs of insignificant stature surround themselves with entourages consisting of publicists, assistants, managers and hangers on it is refreshing and reassuring to observe that this chef’s opinions and dreams stem from his own intellect and are for real. Redzepi is constantly redefining himself and his trade, while opening new windows into the industry and energizing his peers as well as new and old generation of chefs. The MAD Symposium created by him draws a select group of cooks, producers, food journalists , historians, scientists and others connected to the food world from all over the globe to the red circus tent pitched on Refshaleoen in Copenhagen every year. The Nordic Food Lab a self-governed nonprofit research operation that Redzepi helped create once housed on a barge moored by the restaurant, subsequently in residence at Copenhagen University, expands the sphere of his influence worldwide. His MAD nonprofit organization has partnered with Yale University in projects which will address environmental and political issues connected to the food industry. While his MAD Symposium which first pitched its red tent in 2011 it took a gap year in 2015. The Noma team accompanied their chef to Tokyo to set up Noma Japan for ten weeks, and the next territories they set their culinary sights on were Sydney, the Australian short term restaurant( he does not like the term pop up) followed this year by Noma Mexico on the sandy beaches of Tulum fringing the Yucatán jungles. Incidentally just like in Tokyo both short term restaurants, Noma Australia and Noma Mexico were sold out within minutes of the reservation lines opening up. That it was a daring project was acknowledged by close friend Massimo Bottura who commented that “only Rene will go cook in a jungle”.

168 - WG October 2017

“Just about everything that Redzepi initiates instantly becomes de rigueur in the industry and the benchmark by which others measure their culinary contributions” These overseas projects have since propelled other chefs on the road with their own teams in emulation of Redzepi. It’s not just Noma style plating or dishes that appear in restaurants all over the world rather it is the hordes of stagiares who spent just a hot minute in the Noma kitchen who are now capitalizing on the connection in other kitchens and even reality TV shows. Just about everything that Redzepi initiates instantly becomes de rigueur in the industry and the benchmark by which others measure their culinary contributions. A few years ago the pressure of living in the constant limelight became difficult to manage and he escaped to Mexico (his favorite destination) to put things in perspective, which of course he did. He spoke from the heart in a darkened auditorium at Mesamerica about this phase and instantly many others in the industry felt it was alright to acknowledge this phase in their own professional lives. A few months later it was a delight to see him partying with other chefs at the crazy “Octopus(sy)” Gelinaz riff on Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio’s dishes. At his MAD Symposium you often find him seated on the floor next to the stage but not at the after parties except for a token appearance. The fame and media attention are a byproduct of his inherent charisma. His primal-flavored cuisine of the Nordic region makes an indelible impression that is hard to shake off and a meal at Noma was always a unique experience (provided you got in).


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

169


RENÉ REDZEPI

170 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

“René chases his latest dreams in his Noma imaginarium” The announcement pertaining to the closing of Noma in 2016 not only sent die-hard fans scrambling for elusive reservations at the restaurant, but probably set in motion plans for similar restaurants within urban farms in cities around the world. Just a few days later, 108, a new casual restaurant by members of the Noma team was announced and opened to rave reviews in 2016. The former Noma space is occupied by a casual concept Barr restaurant since June 2017 and as with any project with Redzepi’s name behind it is already a popular spot..

name chefs, many of them his close friends. His fastidious attention to every detail was evident as I observed him conducting a staff meeting before service, going over details of each expected guest.

As a result the service at Noma was always very congenial, welcoming and the team members seemed genuinely invested in the guest’s experience. Many protégées have gone on to open their own ventures in Copenhagen and beyond with the backing and encouragement of their former boss, who does not shy away from promoting When he travels to congresses or food events them. Even if it involves the most well-known chef like Gelinaz, Redzepi a veritable food diplomat is in the world putting together tacos in a food stall at surrounded by throngs of adoring fans drawn by Torvehallerne food market in Copenhagen! his multi-faceted persona and now famous face, especially after making the cover of Time magazine We sat down in the staff canteen conversing over not just once but twice. He has authored two books: the racket of a couple of Pacojets running at the the first the “NOMA” cookbook, and the second same time, the boss being just one of the guys, as more of a journal titled “A Work In Progress” that he the staff went about their business undeterred by actually started maintaining after bringing Noma his presence. Rene is the kind of leader who, when to the number one position in 2010, a mere seven head dish washer Ali Sonko was unable to join the years after opening. Once Noma found its niche team onstage at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has since became the beacon of foraging, local Awards in 2010 in London due to visa problems, and seasonal, and the new format of Noma will had the whole team don t-shirts with his picture take it to yet another level. Dining at Noma was an to include him anyway. In 2012 Redzepi handed experience, and I always left wondering in which the mike to a suited Sonko to speak on his behalf part of the world I would see a copycat version of a after being named the number one restaurant once Noma dish next or first. again, this while he himself stood on the sidelines. Seemingly unburdened by plaudits Redzepi is This year he disclosed that Ali would have an admirably unchanged over the years, whether ownership interest in Noma 2.0. No wonder he is warmly welcoming guests into Noma, or to his loved by his brigade and inspires such dedication test kitchen or when MAD attendees disembark and commitment. As he reminded me he was only from boats at the MAD Symposium. He is held in 37( 2015) and no doubt the world will hear a lot high esteem by the international fraternity he has from and about him as he chases his latest dreams helped build along with other like-minded big in his Noma imaginarium. WG October 2017 -

171


RENÉ REDZEPI

Are you playing to a different audience now as opposed to when you first opened Noma? I would say it’s very different as when we first opened we were nobodies. We had a small $30 lunch menu for two or three courses and all these different dishes that guests could choose from. The menu would consist typically of proteins, sides and there were all these other safe choices. Everyone from a family to a business person could come in and enjoy since that was our clientele then. People could just pop in for a quick lunch if they were hungry and today that has changed dramatically to people who are waiting for months to get in. Their whole journey or one year vacation may be just to be here at Noma so it’s very different now. On our side we have we have always had great respect for our guests but even more so now than ever because people are committing all this time to be here. That is a change in terms of the kind of people we get. Do we have business people now? The whole project of Noma should have been an They are fewer since they don’t book three months impossibility from the get go for the very reason in advance but more of the adventurous diners, on that my father came as a Muslim immigrant to a a fairly younger scale as well. It’s not the traditional very Northern European Protestant place on earth Michelin star diner as all over in Europe. It is a and here we are opening a restaurant trying to much younger clientele than that. define what cooking means in this region. So from Since you are now recognized for a cuisine that is that notion it should have been impossible that it not mainstream, does it impart freedom to define happened and also that it has been a success. That your own innovative version of cuisine, and of the is Noma something that was deemed impossible restaurant scene? but became possible. I honestly have this feeling inside of me that whatever I dream of, however I think that helps us tremendously as when you crazy it seems there is a sense that it could work. become known for a train of thought and then more I feel somehow I could make it work if I genuinely people want exactly that from you. Obviously like wished for it. My world in a way has become one today we have a dining group in our private dining where nothing is impossible at the moment. The room, downstairs we have a restaurant manager only impossibilities would be the ability to cure all from Vendome, a chef from Pascal Barbot’s deadly disease or end wars. I feel if you are able kitchen, a restaurateur from Sydney, a hotelier from to find the impossible aspect of every situation you Brisbane, and chefs from Denmark among others. are in and learn from it you are going to move That is the story of our everyday service now and forward and untangle yourself from any impossible that certainly gives us the opportunity to do food situations. This has been my general feeling that we want because people are here to genuinely experience what we have to tell them about food. throughout my life.

What do you think about impossibilities turning into possibilities?

172 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

173


RENÉ REDZEPI

174 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

In this journey so far, has the confidence graph changed? It fluctuates all the time! I have had moments when it dips completely and doubts surface about everything you do and sometimes you doubt your whole professional existence. You think everything you are doing is crap and you are nobody and just a phony. I still get that at times and I am very doubtful. Sometimes it takes just one person during the whole week out of all the guests that come here who says that he thought something was terrible and the whole kitchen is in a funk. The whole kitchen team can then go and discuss it for hours like on Saturday night at the end of the week we discuss all aspects and details of our service. It doesn’t matter whether there were twenty or thirty other tables of people who said, “We loved it! It was amazing what you did with this, I felt what you were doing,” etc. it doesn’t matter because one person or one table had that negative experience and they were vocal about it. That can be enough for you to think, “Are we not good enough? We should revisit everything,” and so on.

Why the need to constantly redefine yourself? I feel we are in the process of trying to work within a region and find flavors within a region. We are trying to build a new sense of tradition. That whole task and job is a very long one, it needs a lifetime of work and may turn out to be the next generations body of work. In the process of searching and exploring you will have to adapt at times so that you can build on everything you have learned in the process. You build on that foundation so as not to derail and this is why we are constantly searching for ways that take us to the next level of comprehending our processes and work. It helps us understand what have been doing in the past twelve years. What are the most significant or recognizable advances in the Noma story?

Our story is the discovery of two major things. One is we found foraging; by that I mean we found the wild landscape and connected ourselves to a new Does that keep complacency in check and constantly range of ingredients. It is actually an old range of ingredients that we forgot about. We found a new keep you on the edge? perspective on food, flavors, and what’s around us We have to be on the edge for not only our own and it has been amazing process of discovery. sake but also for the guest’s sake. We have to be there on the playing field like it’s a champion’s The second is the processing of these ingredients league semifinal for lunch and also for dinner. using a lot of ancient as well as new methods We cannot have a friendly match; for us it’s like of preservation like fermentation, pickling etc., we have to win this one for the guest’s sake. They especially fermentation where we are doing a lot come here expecting us to do that every time. That of work. These two have been the most significant energy, our presence and our commitment should contributions, the discovery of foraging ingredients be felt by them. They should feel that is why we and secondly the new ways of making building woke up early, foraging in the forests, fields and blocks for cuisine which is what we are doing in farms and coming to the kitchens to cook and the fermentation kitchens through all the potions, process everything for them to enjoy for lunch or liquids, vinegars, and the umami paste that we are creating there. dinner. WG October 2017 -

175


RENÉ REDZEPI

What is the next stage in this exploration process? It is going to discuss seasonality and how you deal with it throughout the year. We now believe that there are three main ingredient flows in our region. The first one is in our oceans during the cold months from January to April, the second is a green flow of vegetables and anything coming from the plant kingdom from May to August, and the third is in the forests or wilderness from September to December. This is where we see abundance of different ingredients during the year and this is what I feel we should be focusing on cooking in those periods. Will that change the menu format? It will change it by season quite dramatically from going from fish and shellfish to vegetarian and then focused on more game meats and wild fruits. These three seasons and how you can eat during these will be represented on the menu. Once you realize that, wow! It makes sense to cook like that you develop a more interesting perspective on seasonality for this region as this is what is available here. Once you come to that realization there is no going back and I thought about this and now we have to change into becoming a part of that process. This is what we have been working on for the past three years. Your critics say that this shift is a way of getting publicity. Publicity you can get in so many ways, and for us we are really lucky in that aspect. We didn’t have to change our restaurant to get that publicity. We have more exposure than ever before and I would say it’s actually a huge risk for us to change in this way.

176 - WG October 2017

Are you apprehensive about taking on this risk? It would be easy to stay put instead of taking on this huge risk and continue doing what we are doing now and keep the status quo. We can just move forward and have MAD grow and we have lots of other things to build on while still pushing ahead. We are actually going to close everything and almost start again in a new space, with new rhythms and a new soul. As a father with a young family are you scared about risking your future? I am very scared because we are going to risk everything. In reality we are risking a lot to pursue this, and when I look at my wife I feel this one is going to be a big one, almost like starting anew. Of course, honestly it is a big decision. It is easier to keep going here, renovating, building and expanding and continuing our research. Once you know that it is the right way to move forward even if it’s risky you have to go with it. If we actually nail it, it’s going to be amazing.


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

177


RENÉ REDZEPI

178 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

When do you begin construction at the new location?

I think that is the future, building communities, connecting people, this I think is an omen for the future. It’s about doing things together and there is a great irony in the notion that if you want to Right now it’s still that derelict building and we are succeed professionally you have a better chance in the process of going through the last touches of doing it if you involve yourself in a community. I with the architect and the authorities. In this project believe we can be more successful financially when we are not going to be as green and inexperienced working within a community as opposed to saying I as our first project but we are never the less taking have this idea and it’s only for me. Everybody else away the last six or seven years of growth and can have their own ideas to do their thing while I development. do my own thing. You may be as successful but not as longstanding a model as when you progress in The new project will be a restaurant on a farm? a community. It will be a city farm, based in seasonality and cooking meals based on that aspect during the year. Doesn’t ego interfere with that process? The same quality and standards will be maintained It does and this is one of the greater dangers in while we cook based on the seasons. We will cook any progressive movement. Even in a place like with ingredients from the ocean and then from the Copenhagen if we start telling each other that so plant kingdom, where guests will not miss a single and so is very successful as me or God forbid we bite of protein, and then focus on the wild food say this or that young chef in town is getting all the in the next season. I think personally that we will attention we will start looking like the old farts that become much better than what we are now. have nothing to offer. You do realize that whatever path you choose, many others will follow you all over the world? Do you have a sense of responsibility?

Once this polemic begins it deters the pushing or moving forward. I think a lot of these situations are based in stupidity and lack of knowledge and Right now yes people will follow and of course there so it becomes more important to have meeting is a realization about that. I feel we are very good places to discuss face to face, exchange and in communicating our ideas and expressing what talk. I think everyone in our trade is on the same is going on and we try not to keep anything secret. page more or less. Most people want to have a I think the future is sharing and building of small successful operation to make people, their family networks and communities that in turn belong to and the team happy. They want to be able to afford a larger community. We are part of a community, a comfortable lifestyle in their surroundings, and people come to MAD and become friends, become once in a while a few of these people just blossom connected in a big community of chefs that are through and become extraordinary in their field. pushing forward and trying to be there for each This may be from a philosophical point like Michel Bras or from a business point of view like others. other. And truly we are really doing this here. Ultimately everyone has the same dream: of You have been instrumental in building a fraternity building a place where they can work with their craft and make people happy. in this industry. Why is that important for you? WG October 2017 -

179


RENÉ REDZEPI

You are perceived as belonging to a “cool gang of chefs”. How do you respond to such comments? In some way they are correct as there are a few people who are always in the news and seem more interesting. I think it’s unfair to blame the “cool kid” because it’s the press that creates this impression. In a sense there is a reality to that because some of these people have a moment, some even a very long moment in the limelight and they continue to be interesting. The press keeps writing about them and though it is at times unfair and too much attention is given. At MAD we try to bring forward people who are relatively unknown like a chef from Somalia or a young female chef from Paris in order to spread the conversation and open the eyes to other aspects of our trade. I usually don’t comment about this subject as I don’t know how to deal with it. This whole process of press relations and who gets how much attention etc., but I do feel that there are people out there not getting their share of attention.

Is the farming another risk factor in this new concept since you will be dependent on nature? For sure, but then I won’t be the farmer myself we are hiring specialists for that job. We will have an actual farmer and we are still working on the logistics of how big the farm will be. It depends on the authorities and how much they will allow us to build into farm space. When will you be opening the doors to the new location? We will be open sometime in 2017; it could be May or July. We will close here in December 2016 and for part of 2016 we will be in Sydney Australia. Are you going to continue organizing the MAD event, as you took a gap this year?

We will and one of the things that people don’t realize is that it is hard to source money for it. In order for us to be free and not have logos everywhere we don’t have sponsors. We do apply for grants all the time and have dinners with There is a “Chef from Noma” phenomenon around which we hope to fund this. We have built up a the world with people who spent a short time here network of people that donate, and that’s how we with you. Are these stagiares going to continue do it. We do have individual projects like our Yale project, the wild food projects that get individual coming to the new project? grants and get funded for three to five years but They are going to be coming for sure but probably that whole budget is separate and not flowing into fewer in number. Their tasks will be different as we the organization. Even if the MAD organization will also be farming quite a bit. It’s going to more disappeared tomorrow, the MAD institute with Yale will still be viable and funded. interesting.

180 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

181


RENÉ REDZEPI

182 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

What is the next dream? To have one more child! I have three girls. Are any of them interested in the kitchen? Not yet, though they love to eat and be here to see what’s going on. They spend every Saturday here and sometimes my oldest daughter likes to set the napkins in the dining room. Who knows maybe one of my kids will find their own inspiration and like to join the family business. I will not push them but if it happens naturally I will open the doors.

Do misconceptions about you bother you? No, now I am 37 years old and I just keep going, misconceptions will clear out to be replaced by more and so on. Does the elusive third Michelin star rankle, or are you content with the status quo? I am not content in the sense that I feel we can go far for reasons that are natural to us and not just for the Michelin guide.

To be truthful any chef who says it doesn’t bother him is not being honest. The young chefs who are You went to Japan this year and next year it’s growing up now will probably not care as much but Australia. What is behind this urge to explore? we still grew up in a very traditional environment and there was only one guide, the Michelin. It was That actually happened after I had children the supreme thing to be in and so I care but I do because my wife and I are a mixed bunch so to not care to the point that I want to change anything speak. Even though we are both white she is from in my professional life or my private life to go the a Jewish background and I come from a Muslim extra mile to get it. background, which is a strange mix in Europe. I just want to show my kids something about the What about the 50 Best Restaurants list and the world and let them experience other cultures and controversy surrounding it? ways of looking at things. These are things I want to do myself as well as I still have the same desire I think it’s a great thing and they changed as when I was eighteen and wanted to travel and gastronomy worldwide. When they came on learn. The difference is now I have three kids and board the whole world opened up and so many a restaurant so I decided that now all of us could restaurants from all over the world came into the mix. Yes you can criticize it and there are a lot of go together. things to criticize about it but I try not to take it There are a total of fifteen children traveling this seriously. I just see it as a big party that has helped time to Noma Australia. Any team member with fill our restaurants and has changed our region in children and spouses has the opportunity to take terms of opportunities for restaurateurs. Of course them along. All the children will go to public school no one seriously believes that they are the best while we are there; all they need is a uniform and or if there can be one that is the best. Despite all books. We did that in Noma Japan as well and the controversy I don’t think it’s ever going to go the kids loved it. Now my kids speak fluent English away. The more talk about it the more it’s going to after this experience and it was extraordinary to see keep growing and in a sense all the detractors are making it bigger. them grow. WG October 2017 -

183


MASSIMO BOTTURA

MASSIMO BOTTURA POETRY OF CUISINE

184 - WG October 2017

PHOTO © PAOLO TERZI


WG MAGAZINE

here else would one meet with an avowed art lover and aficionado but in the environs of a museum. Massimo Bottura was spending some downtime at the Whitney Museum in New York City, showing the work of artists he reveres. We have had many conversations over time in unusual locales, including a bacchanalian Gelinaz event in Lima when the detail oriented chef was worked up over the fact that his octopus dessert would have to hold until the wee hours of the morning before being served. The imaginative and creative chef whose mind races at warp speed is a fascinating conversationalist. Extremely intelligent, witty and well informed he can hold his own on any subject under the sun, especially art and music. The state of the art music system that blasts his kitchen is the envy of many and his passion for music even morphs into dishes such as “Tribute to Thelonious Monk”, the jazz pianist. Bottura’s love for Italy, Modenese cuisine, culture and history has also translated into iconic dishes like “An Eel Swimming Up the Po River”. The famous “Oops, I Dropped the Lemon Tart” is a classic Bottura creation that is all about turning an imperfection into perfection, salty capers and all. The bearded, bespectacled, and

W

slight-framed Bottura’s fourth book “Never Trust a Skinny Chef” published in 2013 narrates the back stories of many of his creations and in his words the multiple layers of meaning behind each one. Osteria Francescana his restaurant in Modena in the heart of his beloved Emilio Romagna was the epicenter from where Bottura sent shock waves into Italian gastronomy by reimagining traditional dishes. In 2014 the region was in fact devastated by a powerful quake and Bottura played a pivotal role in aiding the Parmigianino cheese industry to recuperate. He created a dish of course: The Cacio Pepe Risotto, served simultaneously at dinners around the globe utilizing the 360,000 smashed wheels of the cheese. A meal at Osteria Francescana is a revelation of possibilities; a journey in to a mythical Italy that exists in Bottura’s imagination. The food more often than not upending all preconceptions of Italian cuisine as we knew it pre Bottura. The small town of Modena, has become a requisite stop for food enthusiasts on gastro pilgrimages. It is certainly a unique experience that reverberates beyond the palate because Bottura manages to invade your mind and stamp it with his own visionary culture. WG October 2017 -

185


MASSIMO BOTTURA

“If it is not evolving that means that I have to stop serving it” Massimo had spent time in early stages of his career in other exalted kitchens like those of Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo. However, it was Ferran Adria who during Massimo’s time at El Bulli gave him the impetus to cook his version of modernistic progressive Italian cuisine, something he has never stopped working on since. Culture, evolution, revolution, contemporary, confrontation are words that crop up frequently in conversation with Bottura. Many of his dishes have become iconic expressions of modernism in cuisine and yet the perfectionist that he is he frequently revisits them. The Bottura Caesar Salad reappeared in a new iteration on his Instagram feed on the new year’s eve being plated with David Lee Roth’s “Just a Gigolo” playing in the background as a Salad de Mare. Bottura described it as the revolution of an evolution with new elements for the new season and the New Year and it has of course evolved yet again since. When I asked at what point does he decides not to revisit a previously created dish he said “If it is not evolving that means that I have to stop serving it. After a point it is going to degenerate. Our everyday life is so strong and so obsessive that people get used to or conditioned to things. It’s like going to work in a factory and not in a creative space if you don’t continue to evolve.” Bottura is indeed living a special time in his life right now with his uber-successful three Michelin starred restaurant at #2 on the World’s 50 Best restaurants list, recognized as the best in Italy for 2016 with a 20/20 rating by the l’Expresso-Ristorante d’Italia food guide. For those unable to land a reservation at the twelve table only Osteria Francescana the informal Franceschetta 58 also in Modena provides an alternative to sample his cuisine.. It has been a tough road leading to this juncture for Bottura and his American born wife Lara Gilmore. Bottura credits her for tirelessly encouraging and supporting him through the long period when his avant-garde cuisine was not welcomed by Italians.

186 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

CAESAR SALAD IN BLOOM PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

WG October 2017 -

187


MASSIMO BOTTURA

188 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

The art obsessed couple share a unique bond even uncannily finishing each other’s each thoughts mid-sentence, while like any couple often agreeing to disagree. The first season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table in 2015 provides a glimpse of this synergy and their life in Modena with their two children. In 2015, 65 of his celebrity chef friends joined him in Milan at the Refettorio Ambrosiano kitchens to transform the Milan Expo’s 15 tons of daily food waste into meals for the underprivileged. The Pope Francis approved initiative also led to the Refettorio Gastromotiva soup kitchen during the Rio Olympics under the aegis of Bottura’s Food for Soul nonprofit. It has been followed by Refettorio Felix in London in the summer of 2017. Excerpts from an ongoing dialogue: What is the connection between art, culture and cooking? Art is the highest point of culture because artists have strength to do whatever they want. How do you recognize an artist? It is by their sign or signature style. You look at a painting by Chuck Lewis you know who it is, you look at Cindy Sherman you can’t miss it, you look at a plate by Ferran Adria you know right away that’s Ferran. So if you create your own thing and you put your own personality into what you create and as I like to say then you convey and compress your passion with each edible bite. Your creation then exists forever like my, Drop de la Montaigne, the ice cream bar with foie gras, or the five different ages, textures and temperatures of Parmigiano. These plates are icons and people come to Modena from all over the worlds to eat this food and absorb the culture. Even people from a different part of the world can recognize them and get a look into this culture. The one thing that separates a chef from an artist is that the artist is free to do whatever he wants; a chef however has to create good food. A chef is an artisan like the people who build Ferrari’s they are not artists even though they make the fastest and most beautiful cars in the world, they are artisans. LARA GILMORE & MASSIMO BOTTURA PHOTO © PAOLO TERZI

WG October 2017 -

189


MASSIMO BOTTURA

“Our ideas are at times extremely deep and match those of artists. Think about ‘Oops, I Dropped the Lemon Tart’ whereby we created in the most perfect way an imperfection” So are chefs artists? There is a category between an artist and an artisan that is called an artiere in Italian. An artiere is an artisan or artigiano obsessed by quality. We chefs are like them, simply artisans obsessed in our minds with quality. It is not just about the quality of ingredients it is also the quality of ideas. Our ideas are at times extremely deep and match those of artists. Think about ‘Oops, I Dropped the Lemon Tart’ whereby we created in the most perfect way an imperfection. Last year in a group showing of several artists in an art gallery in New York there was the lemon tart dish, inspired by a chef. That’s amazing, I didn’t ask for this they chose it and to me that means I am not following any trend but others are following what I am doing. If you follow everything I do and the actions you see that there is expression of the artist I love the most, especially a social artist like I Wei Wei or Joseph Beuys and the socialist culture. It’s about breaking a two-thousand-year old Ming vase and says I am not defeating my past but trying to reveal and rebuild the past in the contemporary mind. That is the point of culture that it creates knowledge which in turn impacts the consciousness which then leads to a sense of social responsibility. I have to say I couldn’t have done this without my restaurant Osteria Francescana because that is where we create culture in our laboratory of ideas. It’s about new ideas while the social responsibility is in the soup kitchen in Milan and in Rio de Janeiro.

190 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

OOPS I DROPPED THE LEMON TART PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

WG October 2017 -

191


MASSIMO BOTTURA

LENTILS ARE ALMOST BETTER THAN CAVIAR PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

192 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

Is that soup kitchen a place in gastronomy where hunger meets generosity? I don’t think it is a charity event in fact I think of it as a cultural event. Just like the grandmothers of centuries gone by we are creating a new tradition. Italian cuisine comes from the basics where from nothing we create something. We manage the ration, something the Japanese don’t even think about yet we do that very well and have always done it. If we are able to use this ‘ invisible ‘waste we are making the invisible ‘visible’ We use waste to create beautiful dishes, bright in flavor using what would be thrown away. A ripe banana, an ugly tomato or some bread crumbs are not waste and if you have the capability of transforming them there is so much you can do with that. In the less developed economies or less fortunate societies every part of a plant or animal is used. That is why I have involved Brazilians, Peruvians and others from South America in this project because they have the history and knack of using products in this manner and we Italians do the same. When you first opened your restaurant you were cooking in the kitchen while now you are not always there so does this affect the experience for your diners? Even now nothing comes out of the kitchen without my thought in it. Davide is my right hand in the kitchen who has been with me for twelve years and the man who interprets my rationale in a perfect way. He understands exactly where I am going and like me loves art and music. It’s almost as if he is in my mind especially as I am dyslexic since I think too fast, and my mind is too quick to think. When people say oh you are away so who is cooking in your kitchen. I say it’s the same people who are cooking even when I am in the kitchen. We have forty people who are committed and devoted to the Osteria Francescana. WG October 2017 -

193


MASSIMO BOTTURA

What are your thoughts on the progression of American gastronomy? America has a very big potential because they have money, they are free to think and they have great schools. The Culinary Institute of America is one of the best schools I have ever seen in the world. There are many great chefs in America who are great examples for the young generation of chefs. The problem is everyone wants to be up there very fast and they don’t want to invest the time to learn. On the other side the French don’t put themselves into discussions of cuisine because they think they are already there. As a result, French cuisine is dropping so drastically and if you eat a meal with three courses then you need three days to digest them. I think that is why there is a renaissance of Italian cuisine because there are so many young Italian chefs who realize that terroir is an expression of food. They build relationships with the artisans who are the real heroes of cuisine. This factor is making Italian cuisine very interesting right now. You have been a catalyst for change in the traditional Italian cuisine in the face of tough opposition and criticism. What motivated you to persevere and succeed? I have to say I am very happy that I survived that period. You need faith on one side and someone close to you who believes in what you are doing and keeps pushing you on the other. Someone who generates self confidence in you because sometimes you have self-doubt and question yourself. If you have a spouse or a mentor or a strong team you can achieve this. My team was sending me messages on What’s App giving me encouragement about the 50 Best awards tomorrow. Many of them like our sommelier, maitre’d have been with us for fifteen years and Davide and Taka have been with me since 2004. We also have twin brothers who are our head wait staff and have been with us for seven years. Sometimes you question if you are working for the team or is the team working for you. I believe that the team is everything. Building the right team is difficult and if you are successful at it then they become your strength.

194 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

BEAUTIFUL, PSYCHEDELIC SPIN PAINTED VEAL, NOT FLAME GRILLED PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

WG October 2017 -

195


MASSIMO BOTTURA

196 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

How do you keep the team intact over the years and have people stay on? These people probably receive an offer every day from all over the world. I would say that it is our culture of stimulation that keeps them with us. If you stimulate them and let them express and try even if they make mistakes you encourage them. Taka keeps asking me how can he grow and I do my best to stimulate that growth and that is the secret of both the success and longevity of the team. For the past seven years we have been in the top five best restaurants in the world and it’s the best feeling ever for all of us. How much autonomy do you give your team memb ers? A have to say both 100% and 0%. 100% because everyone can express themselves in different ways so we can get some good energy and ideas. Sometimes I give the team a task to make a plate in two days that could tell me who they are. This is very important for me to know and see. I can see the human being even though the flavor and shape is that of a ravioli with ricotta, sage and herbs made by an 18-year-old stagiare. MASSIMO BOTTURA, DAVIDE DI FABIO & TAKAHIKO KONDO PHOTO Š PAOLO TERZI

WG October 2017 -

197


MASSIMO BOTTURA

Is the cross-cultural contamination of cuisines beneficial for gastronomy? It is possible to be contaminated in a wise way and not in a wild way because you should never lose consciousness of who you are and where you come from. Crossing is very difficult because take my example. I grew up biting Parmigiano-Reggiano and when I taste Grana Padano, I can tell the difference. A mozzarella made three hours ago tastes of the buffalo, the animal because you take a bite of the animal and not just imbibe the milk or chew the cheese. When you are in a setting where the bar is set so high then if you don’t jump the right way you fall. Italians are so into flavors that if you don’t get this right and show especially the local Italian people then you can fail. For me to be able to do what I like I had to explain to them that I could draw like Rafaello (Raphael, the Italian Renaissance painter) and I could make the tagliatelle or tortellini better than their grandmother and even her grandmother. I had to get them to accept it before I could cook in abstract. You have to show the world before they believe in you. Every chef from the category of the top five restaurants of the world becomes known or recognized by a signature style or dish and is that a good thing? It’s a very good thing and it’s extremely important. If you don’t have that signature, then you are not recognized. Take the example of every single thing that comes from Noma it has the special signature. When I went to Noma Australia this year I was not eating Australian food or products but Rene’s mind so to say. How important have these rating systems or lists become in recent years for you personally? It is very important because it’s recognition for you, for the team, for the business. We are working for ourselves and I believe in what we are doing. In recent months there have been creative conferences, not related to food, in different parts of the world where people who influence the food that we are cooking right now got together. They were designers, architects, artists, musicians; all amazing people who understand the food I am creating much better than anyone else. They are so attuned to the creative process.

198 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

FIVE AGES OF PARMIGIANO REGGIANO PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

WG October 2017 -

199


MASSIMO BOTTURA

MEDITERRANEAN SOLE PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

200 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

So you are appealing to an audience with a certain intellect? (Laughing) I think I appeal to gourmets because the first thing for me is to create good food and then if you go deeper you influence creative people with your creativity. To be able to open people’s minds to possibilities is extremely satisfying to me. Are you happy with where you are in life right now? After the universal exhibition (Expo Milano) we have had such a push of positive energy and I have even rejoined the church. I was not going to church but the new pope is amazing and who doesn’t like him. He is open to everyone and God is one whatever form you may give Him and He says who am I to judge. If it wasn’t for Pope Francis, I couldn’t have done the Refettorio in Milan. The pope was so bright and quick to grasp the concept and move the focus from downtown Milan where we were initially concentrating. The Pope suggested that we should focus on the periphery of Milan because the periphery is always in the dark or shadows and it was so right and that is what we did. Is it true that you acquire more confidence as a chef with age and experience and can take revolutionary steps while as a young chef you are scared to break away from the pack? You realize that there are different values and most of the values you were carrying when you were twenty or twenty-five and a lot of ideas and instincts that you had from the beginning are still the same. What has changed a lot is the way of communicating them and the provocation. When you are younger it’s important to be provocative and it for me it was important to find myself. As I matured as a person I realized it becomes more interesting to slip something to someone without making it obvious. The provocation comes maybe not even by the way the plate looks but by the flavor or a memory you trigger. Working in that way the relationship with your diner or guest also changes. With maturity you don’t feel compelled to define yourself anymore in absolute terms and you leave yourself more gentle space. You don’t feel the need to control the experience and let everyone have their own space. When as you are young you feel you must break everything like I Wei Wei broke the vase (I Wei Wei a Chinese conceptual artist broke a 2000-year-old Han Dynasty vase in a performance piece). However, the most difficult thing after breaking is rebuilding and to do that better than the past. If you do not rebuild it better than that gesture was wasted. With your contemporary mind you can accomplish that and then you will be recognized. WG October 2017 -

201


MASSIMO BOTTURA

We use the word “contemporary� to define modern or relevant to the present, but how long does anything remain current or contemporary? That is a very good point and sometimes what is contemporary for you is not the same for someone else. When we build something or arrive at a certain point, we all get there with varied reflections that bring us to that same juncture. To arrive at cooking sous vide the Roca brothers arrived one way while maybe me or someone else arrived in another way. It exemplifies a contemporary way of thinking from varied directions. This is what makes food so interesting right now that we are so focused on using different techniques but applied according to our history and in our own fashion. So the Roca’s put soccer player Messi into their dessert while Redzepi is discovering a new herb growing in the ocean and I am finding a way to evolve Balsamic vinegar. Sometimes you need time to figure out how contemporary something still is, it is the irony of time. Being contemporary means evolution like my Caesar salad. An abstraction of Caesars salad that we have changed five times (and counting) in the last ten years.

202 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

What are you working on now?

SOMETIMES MALLARD, SOMETIMES PARTRIDGE AND EVEN BOLLITO PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

The idea of a Mediterranean soul or taking classic fish preparations that we all grew up with in Italy with like al cartoccio or en papilotte, or en sale or a la muniana, sautéed in olive oil with a touch of lemon and cream. Playing with the idea of these three preparations I have compressed them into one dish. I am playing with technique, irony and abstraction. The paper in en pappiote is made with salty water, like seawater that looks like a burnt piece of paper. This is how a classic preparation becomes contemporary because you are thinking about your own experience, your memories, techniques you acquired as a chef while questioning if they can be put together for a whole new experience. At the end of the day we named it ‘Mediterranean Soul’ because when you eat it you will have this sensation of being in a very specific part of the world, the Mediterranean. Under the burnt paper you will find all the elements of al cartoccio because there are black olives, lemon, tomato, capers in this dish. WG October 2017 -

203


MASSIMO BOTTURA

GREEN OVER BROWN OVER BLACK PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

204 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

You created this paper using sea water? Yes, we dehydrated seawater with a lengthy technical process and beneath this seawater paper you will find the soul of Italian cuisine. The fish is turbot because it’s expression is in the Northern part of the Adriatic Sea and the flat fish like sole or the turbot are the best from there. Under it you will find a creamy sauce made not with cream but extra virgin olive oil, fish broth and a touch of lemon zest. We filter everything and create an appropriate density and pour on top because we are in the Mediterranean and not in France. This dish is like tasting Italy on a plate. Our new tasting menu is called “Tutto” which means everything. This word comes from a postmodern artist Buetti who back in the 1970’s did a lot of work in games, logic and reason and was very forward in his thinking. He did a series of paintings in which he used stencils of random things he loved like a palm tree, a person riding a bicycle, or even a piece of cake. These were enormous drawings with many different colors that ended up looking like tapestries from a distance. When you got closer you saw he was trying to fit everything from his life into a painting. The beauty of it is that everything or ‘Tutto’ for him was a metaphor that art can express everything and it’s just a matter of perception. When we created our new tasting menu we had many requests from diners who had seen the Chefs Table episode and read my book who wanted to taste some of those classics. Dishes like Oops I dropped the Lemon tart etc. that are normally on our a la carte menu are also on tasting the menu once in a while. We included them on the Tutto menu along with very contemporary dishes so those who have read or seen them can also experience them. It is fun because it keeps the kitchen working on their contemporary dishes while the generous menu allows the fifteen-year-old dishes like the Parmigiano dish to still be experienced. These dishes are still delicious and contemporary. WG October 2017 -

205


MASSIMO BOTTURA

“We contemporary chefs are so exposed and in a very tough spot. Everything we create is chewed and spit out very quickly and then it’s on to the next” You have said that “The secret is leave a little space in your everyday life open for poetry in which you can jump in and imagine everything.” If your life was a poem what would it say? Poets like Giovanni Pascole and others describe the big poetry of life but hmmm.... Right now in a world like this in which everything is passing by so quickly, everything is fueled by the hunger of eating chewing and spitting out everything quickly. We contemporary chefs are so exposed and in a very tough spot. Everything we create is chewed and spit out very quickly and then it’s on to the next. Everything is ephemeral and passes by in a flash. So we feel like autumn leaves on a tree. (Laughing) I guess it’s a little bit creepy.

206 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

TIRAMIZUCCA PHOTO © CALLO ALBANESE & SUEO

WG October 2017 -

207


MAURO COLAGRECO

MAURO COLAGRECO SHARES HIS STORY

PHOTO © EDUARDO TORRES

Asked about the upcoming awards in Melbourne this year and what he hopes for he shared, “I have arrived in the first ten on the list which is auro Colagreco is the chef owner of extraordinary. It is the team’s reward for ten years the two Michelin starred Mirazur in of efforts, passion and evolution. This year I only Menton a small French town on the Côte hope to keep our place in the top ten because I d’Azur. The restaurant is situated at the border know there are many incredible restaurants in the where France and Italy meet along the scenic world that have their place in the top ten.” Mediterranean shores. There is much ado in the press about his Argentinean Italian heritage that Over the years Colagreco’s charisma and seems to take precedence over his own identity as disarming honesty has drawn many chefs from an uber-talented chef. Born and raised in Buenos all over the globe into his coterie of close friends. Aires, Colagreco is now a bona fide French chef Last year Mirazur celebrated 10 years with ten cooking in France. However recent appearance celebratory dinners inviting some of the world’s as a fluent Italian-speaking judge on Italian Iron top chefs to take command of the kitchens. The ten Chef added to the ongoing debate. In this era of formidable talents included the likes of Massimo ratings and lists that guide diners on food voyages Bottura, Rene Redzepi, Virgilio Martinez, Sebastián it is no trifling matter that in the World’s 50 Best Bras, and David Kinch to say the least. I was at List for 2017 Mirazur rose to #4 in the prized top Mirazur on a sunny morning as David Kinch and ten ranking. According to this list Colagreco is Mauro were manning a barbecue, wine glasses currently the top chef in France rising up in ranks by their side prepping for the first of the fabulous over his mentor and former boss Alain Passard at dinners followed two days later with Rene Redzepi of #12. The restaurant is a member of the prestigious Noma. In the ensuing six months, the dinner guests Relais and Chateau community and has recently included many well-known chefs from France and been added to the Les Grande Tables du Mondes other countries who descended on Menton for these unique events. collection of fine restaurants.

M

208 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

209


MAURO COLAGRECO

210 - WG October 2017

CANNELLONI DE CRAB


WG MAGAZINE

Guests at Mirazur are greeted by stunning views sweeping over the Mediterranean and picturesque Menton all the way to Monte Carlo in the distance. The terraced gardens on the 1930’s built property are a vision when in bloom, supplying the restaurant with a lot of its seasonal produce. The gardens are industriously maintained by the restaurant staff under the supervision of two gardeners and the chef himself. According to the residents of Menton the enormous avocado tree on the property is one of the oldest in France and it is a sight to behold. The sunny Mediterranean climate makes it possible for Colagreco to source the freshest ingredients from around him supplemented by daily forays to the Ventimiglia market a short hop away in Italy. To say he is picky about his products is an understatement truly realized after accompanying him many times on these shopping trips. According to Colagreco his cuisine is sans borders and frontiers, utilizing the best products of both the sea and land, dominated by bitter and acid tastes enhanced with herbs and flowers. The uniqueness of Colagreco’s inventive cuisine at Mirazur even makes it possible to fall in love with a pumpkin dessert! Full disclosure: I have come to know Mauro as a friend over the years and that probably taints the way I perceive his cuisine but as a well-versed diner I have to say it’s spectacular as are the views of the sparkling Mediterranean from the restaurant. This past June in celebration of the Guggenheim Museum’s 20th anniversary he joined chef Josean Alija for a four hands dinner at Nerua restaurant at the museum. Once again he will be on stage at the San Sebastián Gastronomika congress in a city which holds a special memory for him. This is where the story of Mirazur began with a chance meeting that led to an introduction to the owner of the property on the Côte d’Azur.

WG October 2017 -

211


MAURO COLAGRECO

“Mirazur, the now world renowned restaurant was powered solely by a young chef’s passion with €25,000 euros in his pocket, a chef who bet on his own talent”

Mirazur, the now world renowned restaurant was powered solely by a young chef’s passion with €25,000 euros in his pocket, a chef who bet on his own talent. Colagreco’s story is an inspiring example of struggle, survival and success sprinkled with two Michelin stars along the way. The Pablo Neruda (Nobel laureate and Chilean poet) ode to The Grand Coeur brasserie in Paris followed bread that shows up with the warm crusty bread at Mirazur in 2015 as an ode to Colagreco’s time the table accompanied by house infused olive oils spent in the city and his nostalgia for those days. points to the romantic in him while the beautiful He has also ventured into China in Shanghai first plates that follow, the soul of this culinary artist. and more recently with the Azur restaurant at the Colagreco spent five years at L’Arpege in Paris Shangri La hotel into Beijing. There are indications under the tutelage of Chef Alain Passard, with as well of a burgeoning hamburger empire after the Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee and a year at opening of Carne in La Platta outside Buenos Aires Guy Martin’s Grand Vefour tells the story of his in Argentina last year. In March Mirazur popped beginnings. up at St Moritz, France at the Kulm hotel for the jet setting ski crowd a new project at Courcheval is also currently underway in the French Alps. Like other well-known chefs these days he is constantly on the go, traveling to food events, one of his favorites the Gelinaz, chef collaborations or his overseas operations. The latest Gelinaz shindig took him to Upper Austria last month along with many of his close chef friends. The food industry has lately begun to focus on the stresses and hardships of life in restaurant kitchens and the challenges of running chef owned restaurants. It is now quite acceptable when chef owners walk away within months or the first few years of opening as opposed to sticking it out. Most restaurants these days are backed by investors, some just dabbling in gastronomy as a hobby while chefs are often not financially invested in the restaurant. In this context Colagreco’s story of his beginnings is an exception.

212 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

COCHON DE LAIT ET PRUNE

WG October 2017 -

213


MAURO COLAGRECO

214 - WG October 2017

GREEN PHOTO © PASCAL LATTES


WG MAGAZINE

Did you always want a place of your own and where did you want to open? I always wanted a place near the ocean but it always seemed like a farfetched dream. I didn’t have any family or other support in France and the banks would not extend me any credit. One day I was at lunch with some friends at Akkelare in San Sebastián, Spain and they invited another couple to join us. As we ate we started talking and they were curious about my background especially coming from Latin America and cooking French food in France. As we spoke about my desire to have my own restaurant they said they knew of a fantastic place which had been closed for few years near where they lived on the Côte d’Azur. I was still working in Paris so they offered to organize a meeting with the owner. Some time passed and I forgot about it and was taken aback when I three months later I got a call to ask if I could come to Menton. So, I came to visit at the beginning of November leaving a cold rainy Paris to land in Nice on a beautiful sunny day. The sun shone on the water, people were dining outdoors and I was hooked. PHOTO © ANTHONY LANNERETONNE

When I visited the property and looked at the state I immediately thought it was amazing but too much for me and my pocket. I met the owner at his hotel in Menton, a very dapper gentleman with a Panama hat and an air of affluence. I had prepared a dossier with my background and all my experience which I presented to him but he asked me to put it away and to just tell him about myself and my aspirations. He understood during our conversation that I didn’t have the money to invest but it was a special property for him which he had unsuccessfully tried to open on his own. When he saw my passion, he made a proposal to me offering to rent the property for a year or two to see if I could make it work. WG October 2017 -

215


MAURO COLAGRECO

So it was a low rent? Very low rent and he also offered to talk about the rest once I decided to take on the property. I decided on the spot to go for it. It was very hard because it was closed for such a long time and without much money or any investors it was a challenge. As you know it’s not even in the center of the city but on the outskirts and on top of it in a region with very famous restaurants in close by Monte Carlo. How long did it take before you could establish yourself? It was very hard especially for the first two years and now it seems like a nice history but I was constantly on the verge of closing down in that period. I had a lot of doubts and got proposals along the way to take up an executive chef’s position in a palace (fine dining grand restaurant). I was even offered a job in Marrakesh at the King’s Palace with huge salary and benefits and it was tempting. It would have given me house, car, and schooling for my kids and every other perk and life would be very comfortable. When was this? It was 2009 the year when I was chosen as The Chef of The Year by the Gault & Millau guide and this practically at the moment I had decided to give up. I thought that is a sign that I need to continue. At this time, I spoke with the owner who decided to become a partner for four years and then later I bought him out. I am forever grateful to him as he has always helped me and I couldn’t have done it without this man who has become like a father to me. If he hadn’t taken a chance on me and given me this opportunity I couldn’t have done it. He didn’t need the money but just wanted to promote my talent and encourage me.

216 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

SALADE ASPERGES

WG October 2017 -

217


MAURO COLAGRECO

218 - WG October 2017

CALAMAR BAGNA CAUDA


WG MAGAZINE

What were you the most difficult months after opening?

PHOTO Š ANTHONY LANNERETONNE

Why did you open Grand Coeur in Paris? When we were facing tough times at Mirazur during the first four years we always thought of moving to Paris. We thought if we open a place there it will be easier to make a go of it unlike Mirazur where we were in the countryside. The quality of life is definitely much better in Menton than in Paris and that held us back every time.

It was November, December and January though now that is changing. We had started off very well in the end of May 2016 and in June Le Figaro, the oldest and most prestigious daily newspaper in France, released a 50 Best classement of terrasse restaurants in Paris and put us at number one. This was just three weeks after we opened and that was very encouraging and gave us a big push. We were very busy every day until the terrorist attacks occurred. How much has that affected business? Now we are at 80% compared to 100%. Like everyone else in France we hope these don’t occur anymore but who knows.

When you planned the Grand Coeur, who did you Another coincidence occurred when the journalist envision as your guests? Who is at the helm there? who wrote the first story about Mirazur came to Any female chefs? visit and said he had now gone into the restaurant business in Paris. He had five restaurants and We expected the people who lived and worked offered to open a casual one with me since he said in the neighborhood as regulars. Since it is the picturesque Marais of Paris we expected to have my food was great and should be in Paris. tourists as well. Rafael my Brazilian head chef had I agreed to open a brasserie and not a fine dining worked at Mirazur for three years with me and my restaurant because I still want to live here in Menton. sous chef at Grand Couer is from Italy and was It took two years before we found the perfect spot, also at Mirazur for two years. They made it possible in the heart of Paris, near a historic theatre and a for me to start with a strong kitchen. Speaking of dance academy. The outdoor terrace is perfect to female chefs my previous sous chef at Mirazur relax and there is always music in the air making for seven years was from Japan and now she has opened a very good restaurant in Paris. for a great atmosphere. WG October 2017 -

219


MAURO COLAGRECO

What is your concept of brasserie fare at Grand Coeur? I want to reinterpret the brasserie in ambiance and food but a seasonal brasserie. These days it is difficult to find a good one as many serve frozen food instead of the classic fare. It’s simple food with good products and a Mediterranean sensibility. The average price for a meal with wine is around €60. We take walk ins and at busy times people line up outside to get a spot. We open from Tuesday through Sunday lunch for a la carte meals. We are established in the neighborhood and have a lot of regulars now. We make our own charcuterie and boudin noir, and the menu is changing constantly. Your staff at Mirazur is from all over the world is it the same in Paris? Yes Brazilian, Sri Lankan, Italian, Argentinean, French so it’s a similar international spirit like Mirazur. What do you love about Paris? Paris is a place like no other and I love to visit the Musee Orsay, the St Martin neighborhood with the canals which is very Parisienne. The Marais of course is one of the oldest and historic parts of Paris and one of my favorites is the Place de Vosges where Victor Hugo lived and Paris of course has the chicest flea markets. The Jewish quarter is very bohemian and very romantic and I love to visit it. You were a judge on the Italian Iron Chef show so how did that come about? You know Italians love Paris and they probably visited Grand Coeur and then offered me the opportunity. Mirazur is near the Italian border and the impact of this show has obviously resulted in more business for us. I speak Italian fluently because of my own Italian heritage and the Italian culture is close to my own culture.

220 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

SALADE DE BETTERAVE

WG October 2017 -

221


MAURO COLAGRECO

222 - WG October 2017

MACARON MATÉ


WG MAGAZINE

What do you think of the concept of presenting a chef’s dishes cooked by someone else across the world like your Forest dish at In Situ in San Francisco? TARTELLETTE AU PISTACHE

I have no problem with people cooking my dishes across the world. In fact, I feel proud and honored that they appreciate my food and asked to cook some of our dishes.

How is it different from copying or following a How have you with fared with your overseas projects recipe? What is the benefit of such projects? in China? I am not sure about that part but I think when you Shangri La opened in 2016 in Beijing and being in Shanghai for four years prior gave me experience with Chinese products. It is not easy to have a business in China and acquire products and for the first two years it was a Chinese Mission to find good staff and good products. Shanghai is very cosmopolitan like NYC and guests come from all over the world with fifty percent international and the other fifty percent well-traveled Chinese. In Beijing, it’s a more closed society so it is a little challenging. The political scene is changing in China and so wine sales are not that great anymore. We procure the meat from Australia and try to source other products locally. One of my chefs has lived in China for thirteen years so he has great contacts with suppliers which is a bonus for us.

copy you just appropriate something that is not yours and when you follow a recipe you should admit that it is not yours. For me it is a pleasure to know people will taste our food and that we can also help some association. I feel that by such little things we can contribute towards helping make a positive change in this complicated big world. It is sincerely not for business or exposure. I have never had a client who came to Mirazur and said they have tasted one of my dishes in another place and come to discover Mirazur. Obviously, we don’t earn anything from it. My sous chefs went to San Francisco to work on it but I have yet to visit and taste it myself. Next time! WG October 2017 -

223


JOSEAN ALIJA

JOSEAN ALIJA

RHYTHM OF CUISINE IS MARKED BY NATURE AT NERUA osean Alija’s cuisine is more than edible art, it is an intellectual rumination of the flavors and products of the Basque region of Spain. The 39-year-old chef, is an alumnus of Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, the epicenter that sent out shear waves which forever altered not just Spanish food culture but gastronomy in general. The Basque chef has conceived a unique culinary credo at his Nerua restaurant in Bilbao, Spain. This unique technique based concept of working to create the future is the subject of his book “Muina.” published in 2013. In Euskara, the Basque language of his region, it translates into the soul, or the very essence, in his case, of his work.

J

224 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

WG October 2017 -

225


JOSEAN ALIJA

226 - WG October 2017

FRIED HAKE WITH STEWED CHRYSANTHEMUM LEAVES


WG MAGAZINE

Alija knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a chef. His culinary journey began when he was only 14-years-old and has for the most time kept him close to home. He joined the Leioa School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, in Biscay following that three years later with stages and positions in wellknown avant-garde kitchens of Spain. He first arrived at the kitchen of the museum restaurant in 1998. Two years later came an unexpected turning point in his life when he was injured in a motorcycle accident that left him comatose for three weeks, during which he lost his sense of taste and smell. Upon his recovery, he embarked on a quest to gradually regain those perceptions and sensations, going forward to formulate his own vision of cuisine. With determination and focus he went on to win The Best Young Chef competition which was a turning point in his career and led him back into the game. Alija since focuses on the purity of products, often with clinical investigations resulting in a cuisine that relies heavily on highlighting just a few flavors and ingredients in a single dish. In 2011 came the opportunity he had been dreaming of; a kitchen of his own at the Guggenheim museum restaurant. The same year he also won the Chef of the Future Award from the International Academy of Gastronomy.

ZUCCINI FLOWER, ALMOND, STEWED PLUMS, MINT AND CURRY

WG October 2017 -

227


JOSEAN ALIJA

Nerua, his one Michelin-starred restaurant is situated in the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain. The architectural wonder that attracts millions of visitors with its complex yet captivating structure on the banks of the Nervian River has revived the old port city turning it into a cultural and gastronomic destination. The city now attracts the hip crowd from all over Europe for its cultural festivals giving an impetus to cutting edge innovation by its talented culinary artists. The restaurants windows frame views of the lush green mountains and the river flowing by spanned by the red arches of La Salve Bridge and the white linear Zubizuri footbridge by Santiago Calatrava. A walk past the massive spider, a Louise Bourgeois art installation titled “Maman” and Jeff Koons’ the “Puppy” a two storey tall topiary covered with multihued flowers on the plaza surrounding the imposing edifice leads guests to a dedicated entrance into the restaurant. Nerua is adjacent to gallery 104 of the museum an expansive space displaying Richard Serra’s massive sculptural installation “The Matter of Time” which provides a context to the spacious minimalist dining room. The decor is spartan, leaving the spotlight on the works of art by major contemporary artists that surround the restaurant.

228 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

BAKED WHITE ONION, ON A CODFISH AND GREEN PEPPER BED

WG October 2017 -

229


JOSEAN ALIJA

230 - WG October 2017

FRIED ANCHOVIES, OATS CREAM AND SAGE


WG MAGAZINE

The muted hues of the interior and the white corrugated mesh overhead provide the backdrop for the chef’s sophisticated food. Alija is a very erudite professional painting his plates with a limited palette of flavors and products. If simplicity is hard to perfect he comes close to it in his culinary endeavors. The immaculate open kitchen is well-organized and the kitchen team works with orchestrated precision to serve the diners seated on Frank Gehry designed chairs interestingly, in spite of Alija’s modernist approach the cuisine of Nerua is deeply entrenched into its terroir, its deep roots planted firmly in the Basque culture.

Typical Basque dishes like Guisante lagrima (spring season peas) or the Kokotxa de merluzza (hake cheeks) are featured on the restaurants seasonal menus but in the chef’s haute cuisine version. Foie gras with candied carrots from the conceptual chef are some of his well known savory plates. A kitchen tour with small bites precedes the dining experience with both a la carte and tasting menu options. Three tasting menus offer a choice between 9, 14, or 18 courses with optional wine pairing. The sweet endings at Nerua are as ambitious as the chef whose desserts like ‘Whipped Casein with Strawberry and Violet Ice Cream’ and ‘Iced Bitter Cocoa Juice with Aniseed Icecream’ have won prestigious awards.

LAMB TONGUE, FRIED CAULIFLOWER CREAM AND SAKE

WG October 2017 -

231


JOSEAN ALIJA

In celebration of the Guggenheims 20th anniversary Alija is hosting a series of four hands collaborative dinners with chefs Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, Spain, Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur, France, Virgilio Martinez of Central, Peru and Bruno Oteiza of Biko, Mexico. The series titled “Ongietorri” opened in February and will culminate in September. The twelve course dinners are accompanied by gastronomic conferences in conjunction with the Guggenheim’s Toparte program. Awarded three prestigious suns by the Repsol Guide and number 56 on the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants List in 2017 Nerua is no longer flying under the radar on the international culinary scene. Fortuitously the next Worlds 50 Best Restaurants of The World Awards for 2018 are to be held in Bilbao and Nerua will get the attention of the movers and shakers of the international culinary scene. A speaker and presenter at conferences like Madrid Fusion, Gastronomika, International Chefs Conference (ICC),Identita Golosa, Gastromasa etc. he frequently collaborates with peers around the world for dining events. Constantly exploring ingredients with projects like investigation of “Applications of Coffee in Gastronomy” to study the organoleptic properties of coffee he stays ahead of the curve.

232 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

IBERIAN PIG’S TAILS, ARTICHOKES AND BEAN BROTH

WG October 2017 -

233


JOSEAN ALIJA

234 - WG October 2017

COD KOKOTXAS IN PIL-PIL SAUCE


WG MAGAZINE

A meal at Nerua is a great way to begin or end a tour of the museum and the sheer volume of visitors necessitates a reservation to avoid disappointment. In a recent conversation with the intellectual chef we explored the abstractions of his intuitive, seasonal cuisine. ANCHOVY, STEWED QUINOA AND SAGE

How long does it take for a chef to define a personal style and does it then become an identity by which he or she is recognized in the industry? The time is relative, and there are no rules and it depends on multiple variables. In my case I decided to train myself, to learn a trade and then to create a cuisine linked with some values. A personal style of cuisine that made me different from other professionals and which contributed value to the discipline itself. It was an important decision that involved sacrifice. To have your own philosophy, and style which makes your dishes recognizable takes years and requires you to be consistent and faithful to your own values and philosophy. I use the term Muina which is the core, heart, essence. Muina has no literal translation in English. This is a term that best identifies my way of seeing things, including gastronomy. It is the word that best defines me. It refers to the soul, the substance, but also the brain and knowledge.

WG October 2017 -

235


JOSEAN ALIJA

Can you elaborate on this idea? Muina is the way in which I understand a complete gastronomic experience, the unique result of focusing attention on the purity of things. Muina is a general concept that encapsulates who I am and what I have to offer. It enables my creative process to be viewed as a journey to the source of the things, to their roots, allowing their true potential to be developed fully through the description of rounded, complete and pleasurable sensations. This is what Muina holds: a very personal representation of the world and the reality that surrounds me. Acceptance, specification and loyalty to a series of values lead me to follow the same path constantly, never straying from it. It is the determination and desire to share knowledge, research, projects, life experiences and emotions. You learned your craft in the traditional Basque kitchens and now your restaurant is housed in an iconic contemporary art museum so how do you define your cuisine? I learned from the traditional cuisine of that time from chefs that have made a difference. It was all about learning from the best to be a good professional. In my kitchen, I want to recover the traditional values that have impacted our gastronomy, temporality and the use of local products. Nature marks the rhythms of our cuisine at Nerua, we adapt to every season without censorship to make the cuisine we feel, a local cuisine that is born in the gardens, the sea and on the farms. Each year we change our menu three times: in spring, in summer and for fall-winter. Every season we step out of our kitchen to understand the products, be with our producers, who feel Nerua is theirs as well. They know that without them it would not be possible to do what we do. We do this while being faithful to our principles, our environment and the very same producers who make our goal possible: To be at the cutting edge and to innovate without losing the flavor of our roots.

236 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

BABY TROUT, PRAWN BROTH AND GARLIC

“Muina is a general concept that encapsulates who I am and what I have to offer. It enables my creative process to be viewed as a journey to the source of the things, to their roots, allowing their true potential to be developed fully through the description of rounded, complete and pleasurable sensations”

WG October 2017 -

237


JOSEAN ALIJA

What is your favorite art work on display in the museum and does your food take inspiration from it? Being in a museum where creativity flows, where there is a specific language, and every artist has his own, is an important source of inspiration. My inspiration comes from pure knowledge of matter. Our subject has to do with nature, which is where we can find that product; we analyze it from different points of view to build an idea. Sometimes you need influence and inspiration that comes from many things. I recognize that on certain occasions the art has inspired me and motivated me to make things with products, as in the case of the dish, “Tomatoes in sauce, aromatic herbs and capers.”

When you see the tulips of different colors, in the same way, you wonder what will each of them contain? It’s the same thing that happens with my plate of tomatoes. Visually, it is a familiar As I walk every day to get to the restaurant my product, but it will surprise you when you put path takes me along the museum. I stumble across it in your mouth, because it explodes with a works that always catch my eye: the tulips of Jeff flavor, and an aroma. And you wonder: will Koons and The Big Tree and the Eye, by Anish the next one have the same taste? Surprise! A Kapoor. You begin to wonder why have they done way to relate with the other, to discover things. that work, how they have done it, what has inspired The kitchen, I feel, is all about textures and them. Reflection is the key in our creative process. flavors. Analysis, reflection, rethinking. These two sculptures I mentioned are already From an aesthetic language, you see different identifiable with the Guggenheim Museum things; you see a perfect balance, an order, one and when we inaugurated Nerua in 2011, reflects himself, finds what he wants to see. It also we thought of a plate that reminded us of invites surprise, the same forms that build that all those moments, how to build a balance, balance. Balance is what we look for in the taste, how to unite the restaurant as the most social harmony in the execution. For me it is about the part with culture. Nerua is a space in which technique: About looking for a tool that allows innovation is combined with our roots to live a you to standardize the process, that language, rich and meaningful gastronomic and cultural the aesthetics you apply to a plate, to formulate a experience. We want every person who visits language that enters by the mouth while playing us to leave with a memory, and with some new with the color of the products. knowledge.

238 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

“Nerua is a space in which innovation is combined with our roots to live a rich and meaningful gastronomic and cultural experience”

TOMATOES IN SAUCE, HERBS AND CAPER SAUCE

WG October 2017 -

239


JOSEAN ALIJA

240 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

You stress R&D in your work. At a certain point. Does it alienate the cooks or chefs from the average diners? I feel R&D allows me to generate knowledge and this knowledge is a tool that each member of the team uses with a common interest, to allow our customers to enjoy themselves and to discover new things. I believe learning is more than anything else about, having fun and enjoying. Is food, especially at the top tier and Michelinstarred restaurants, getting too intellectual for the average diners? These awards like Michelin open doors and lead new clients to us. They also enable us to experience and work more efficiently. As a customer, you just have to trust and to want to try new things, something not possible every day. As a result our cuisine is generous as well as pleasant offering a unique experience. Chefs are on the road a lot, at conferences, collaborative dinners or congresses. Why this become an essential part of a chef’s life? Travelling is important, it is nourishing and inspiring. Everyone in this business knows why they do some or other things, but in my case, travelling allows me to approach a new public and share my work with them, so that one day they will visit Nerua. It is important to share and generate such encounters. These exchanges and travel which involves a lot of individual sacrifice helps to evolve the cuisine and to create interesting projects.

WG October 2017 -

241


JOSEAN ALIJA

STEWED SPINACH, ALMOND MILK AND OLIVE OIL

Travel influences all of us regardless of our field of work. Are there any places that have inspired a change of direction in your work? Traveling has helped me a lot; since it allows you to know, to experience, to reflect, to add experience and to keep the restlessness alive. Each country, each person defends their culture and their habits and this is very inspiring, it is part of the creative process, it is fundamental to be able to innovate in the kitchen. I love MĂŠxico, Italy, Japan, and I like all the countries that have curiosity and traditions. You have overcome the consequences of a major accident in your life. Did that alter your perspective towards life and your work? It was a very traumatic accident, for me, and for my family. It was emotionally catastrophic, because I lost a high percentage of my taste and my smell, a tragedy for a chef. I can say that I was born again after it and because of it now I am a much more sensitive person. One welcome change in recent years has been the climate of sharing in gastronomy. Do you feel it has created a better environment? I feel that we have more respect for our peers and think that it is a privileged time for cuisine in general. To sustain it we must continue working together and sharing in the future.

242 - WG October 2017


WG MAGAZINE

STEWED CRAYFISH WITH RICE

TUNA BELLY AND LETTUCE HEART

PRAWN, RED ONION AND RED CABBAGE

RED MULLET SOUP, VELVET CRAB BROTH AND RED CURRY

WG October 2017 -

243


JOSEAN ALIJA

244 - WG October 2017

SQUID, RED ONION AND PEA JUICE


WG MAGAZINE

the most influential chefs in world of cuisine. It is an idea in which we had been working for some time and we wanted to coincide it with the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. During 2017, we will welcome at Nerua Bruno Oteiza, from Biko in Mexico City, Joan Roca from El Celler de Can Roca, Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur, France, and Virgilio Martínez from Central in Lima, Peru. In addition, as we work on the Autumn-Winter 2018/2019 menu, we are exploring our environment to select the most special and magical products to be able to cook with. It is all about discovering, recovering products and playing with the excellence of temporality and our local products. You have earned one prestigious Michelin stars and this year are #56 on the World’s 50 Best list. Which award is more prestigious for your resume and which one is better for business? Both are very good; all recognition is a motivation for the team as well as for Bilbao. The most precious award is the will to do things and share them, to celebrate the years with health and energy, surrounded by a team that feeds the project. What proportion of your guests are international visitors and is the museum location helpful in drawing business to the restaurant?

You have researched the use of coffee in food and what are you working on these days?

About 30% of our customers are local and the rest are international, and many of them, loyal customers. There is no doubt that being in a place like the Guggenheim Museum is wonderful, and it is a marvelous opportunity for us. What is the future for fine dining cuisine?

I believe that haute cuisine will advance by For this year, we have organized a cycle of four- highlighting seasonality and local products in hand dinners called “Ongietorri” (“Welcome” in addition to bringing new things to the discipline, Basque language), for which we have invited four of but above all to pay attention to what the customer seeks. WG October 2017 -

245


JOSEAN ALIJA

Does a chef’s ego get in the way of receiving constructive criticism, and what advice would you give young cooks about this? The ego does not help achieve anything constructive. Observing, listening as well as learning from mistakes and being justly critical with yourself are more powerful tools. What is your favorite way to spend time off in your city and what do you like to eat out? I like to spend free time with family or friends, travelling or enjoying small trips to nature and I always look for a table to enjoy good local food wherever I am. Is there another book on the way after “Muina”? There is some project in mind, although it is still early to advance it. The most didactic part we share through a blog in which we talk about products, techniques, reflections, and trips. What impression do you want diners to take away from the experience of dining at your restaurant? CABELLO DE ÁNGEL PUMPKIN, BERGAMOT AND PUMPKIN SEEDS ICE-CREAM

246 - WG October 2017

Our goal is very simple: we work hard to make our guests happy and allow them to learn and discover new things, but above all enjoy the experience. We aim to allow them to know our environment, the special products of our region, and its seasonality.

ZUCCINI FLOWER, ALMOND, STEWED PLUMS, MINT AND CURRY


WG MAGAZINE

STRAWBERRIES, ROSES, COCONUT AND BLACK PEPPER

WG October 2017 -

247


WG MAGAZINE JANUARY 2017

WG MAGAZINE

2016 A COLLECTIVE OF CHEFS

www.gelinaz.com

1

2016 GELINAZ! WWW.WGMAGAZINES.COM

WG March 2017 -

1 WG MAGAZINE OCTOBER 2016

a feast for the palate...

GÉRALD PASSEDAT

LE PETIT NICE

REIF OTHMAN

MEDITTERASIAN CUISINE

PACO TORREBLANCA

MAESTRO PASTELERO www.wgmagazines.com

WG MAGAZINE JULY 2017

ARNAUD DONCKELE

A TRUE ARTISAN

ALBERT ADRIÀ ENIGMA

MASSIMO BOTTURA

FOOD FOR SOUL

JONATHAN BERNTSENS CLOU CUISINE

DANIEL BOULUD - WG October 2017

248

PASSION FOR NATURE www.wgmagazines.com

PEPE MONCAYO

UNUSUAL PAIRING ASIA’S 50 BEST BARS WG July 2017 -

1

WG October 2016 -

1

WG Magazine October 2017 Issue  
WG Magazine October 2017 Issue