Today was the last day of Madrid Fusion Manila 2017. The final group of renowned chefs took to the SMX Convention Centre stage to present and discuss their aesthetic, skills and passions. This set of stellar chefs shared their life experiences, advice and showcased what they are all truly made of as they prepared dishes in front of countless media representatives, epicurean guests, and fans.
Here is a round-up of the highlights at the Madrid Fusion Manila 2017 congress:
“There is Strength in Community”
Kicking off day three of Madrid Fusion Manila's stellar line-up for talks and demos at the congress was our very own Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery. His first time to speak in front of a huge international congregation, Navarra was an instant pragmatic crowd pleaser with his grass roots approach to A Filipino Cuisine : Sustainability And Practicality.Using small fishing villages as his case in point and further to that, using their sustainably-produced output, Navarra subscribes to the philosophy of creating recipes for food further up or further down the food chain. "There's more to work with and the quality is so much better."
Chef Navarra emphasized how travel is a massive component to cooking as it broadens a chef's perspectives, and gives him or her insight into a culture. He wanted to highlight that "the learning never ends," and that one should always continue to travel in order to enrich the soul and the mind.
“Go Local or Go Home”
This is the power duo behind acclaimed, Locavore of Ubud. Chef Adriansyah is from Sumatra and chef Plasmeijer from Holland, but the two joined forces to develop Locavore and their passion for Indonesian flavours and the local strengths of Ubud.
It was a challenge at first for chef Plasmeijer as he was out of his comfort zone but he found Indonesian food and culture to be so interesting and inspiring – it was a welcomed challenge. Both chefs dedicated themselves to going local because they believe in becoming a part of and supporting the community you work in, and community whose food you cook. Everything about Locavore is related to Indonesia, to Ubud.
In the restaurant, they only hire men and women from Ubud. Going local for them, means to highlight the flavours of the country and its traditions, heritage and culture. Working with local craftsmen and artisans is part of their local lifestyle mantra too. By cultivating relationships and immersing themsevles in Ubud, Adriansyah and Plasmeijer learn so much more about their ingredients and the stories behind the local foods, which inspire them to enhance and elevate their dishes.
Chef Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room and Bar in Hong Kong, got somewhat of a late start in the culinary world as she began in the field of graphic design. When she realized her passion for cooking, Lau hit the ground running, determined and motivated to succeed as a chef, she made her dreams come true.
“The science behind food is very important, we must always continue to test.”
Chef Lau lives by the notion of cooking ‘nose to tail.’ She loves to utilise as much of an ingredient as possible, in unique ways that people would not normally think about. Chef Lau discussed how she loves to look at ingredients, a tomato for example, and say, “how can I use the entire thing, meat, skin and leaves?” She spoke about how not even left over leaves or herbs laying around the kitchen are put to waste, as she finds ways to incorporate these ingredients into cocktails or sauces -- paying tribute to the ingredient.
Chef Lau says believes that creativity is an enormous component to cuisine, as you must constantly think out of the box. “Look at the pieces of an ingredient, not just the whole.” Her mantra is waste minimization and innovation: to analyze everything in her kitchen and find out what every facet of the ingredient can do for you and what you can do with it.
The inspiringly talented chef Lau is extremely meticulous and strives to motivate others, hoping to ignite a passion for food in all of her guests.
"The Constant Search of Essence"
Madrid Fusion Manila attendees were particularly keen to see chef Josean Alija in action. Armed with what can be best described as a carpe diem approach to life, the celebrated chef behindNerua restaurant in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, has come a long way since his almost fatal motorbike accident that left him in a coma for 21 days.
Though grateful for his second chance at life, the 21 days in limbo had dire consequences; he had essentially lost all his senses, including the two he needed most as a chef: is ability to taste and smell.
Perhaps in facing the cards he had been dealt, Alija, a complex person himself, chose a topic that made sense in approaching and understanding the complexities in both the culinary world and in life: The Constant Search of the Essence.
Jordi Roca, the sweet tooth to the famed El Celler de Can Roca, which he and his famous brothers (chef Joan and sommelier Josep, who both presented at Madrid Fusion Manila last year) run, had a couple of hurdles to overcome. Having lost his voice, his partner Alejandra Rivas became not only his translator during interviews, but his literal voice in his presentation as he whispered his thoughts and what "Sweet Anarchy" means to him.
Responsible for the sweet endings of El Celler, a three Michelin-starred Catalan restaurant in Girona, Spain, the youngest Roca is always pushing the envelope, using books and sheep wool, for instance, as starting points for some of most avant-garde treats.
Madrid Fusion Manila is held at the SMX Convention Centre, from April 6 to 8, 2017. To know more about Madrid Fusion Manila 2017, visit madridfusionmanila.com. Feel free to follow Philippine Tatler Dining on Instagram: @tatlerdiningph for more live updates | To stay updated with the latest foodie news, watch this space.