Text by Stefanie Claudia Müller, Madrid, Pictures by Alvaro Rodríguez, Sigrid Lohse
20 years ago Switzerland and France where the best place to learn about cooking, vinery and patisserie. That changed. Spain is now in Europe the place to be. Some of the best bodegas, best restaurants, best cooks, best confectioners and gastronomy schools are right now in the Bask country, Catalonia, Galicia, Madrid and Andalucia.
The country has discovered in the last years the enormous potential of its Food industry, organizing Food Festivals in all bigger cities, competitions and TVprogrammes like Masterchef. The Bask country and Catalonia are leading the market with extraordinary restaurants, chefs and Festivals like the one in Vitoria in 2014:
Cooks like Dani García (see image) help to promote the image of the Spanish kitchen. With not even 40 years he obtained already two Michelan stars for his work.
After an impressive way in Spain he opened a restaurant in New York that he closed last year to open “Dani García Restaurant” in Marbella where up to 50 people work for him.
In Puente Romana he combined a Gourmet restaurant with a high class Brasserie next door “BiBo“. For him the most important thing to become a good cook is to travel: “Just by traveling and opening your mind, you can increase your creativity and make a menu that merges all kind of flavours and cultures.” García is especially known for his capacity in “Maridaje“, combing the food with the right vine. His 31 year old sommelier Carlos is executing the Spanish tradition in very special combination of vines, sidras, manzanillas, cavas, champagnes and liqueurs. He learned in the Ritz in London and with Spanish cooks like Sergio Ariola.
More and more sommeliers, cooks and confectioners learn their profession in Spain. Hence the gastronomic institution in Madrid has become the new main centre of the French school Le Cordon Bleu in Europe, after historic institutions such as those in both Paris and London.
The prestige and international fame of the haute cuisine of Spain has a guaranteed future with the creation of an innovative centre for training and research in gastronomy: the Basque Culinary Centre, located in one of the capitals of creative cuisine, San Sebastián.
It offers training ranging from a university degree in Gastronomy and Culinary Arts or a Masters in Restaurant Research and Management, to continued training in culinary techniques, sommelier, and room or food services for the food industry, for example.This course offering includes the participation of many of the most representative chefs of the Basque Country, such as Juan Mari Arzak, Martín Berasategui, Pedro Subijana, Karlos Arguiñano, Andoni Luís Adúriz, Hilario Arbelaitz and Eneko Antxa. Also, the Basque Culinary Centre has an International Advisory Board made up of well known chefs from the countries with the most outstanding cuisine, presided over by Ferran Adrià.
Besides educating international talents about the “spanish way” in kitchen, young talents like Alejandro Montes try to break stereotypes as well in the world of patisserie. He set up with a partner in Madrid “Mamá Framboise“, a high class “pasteleria” that is mainly frequented by foreign tourists for the moment, since baking with butter and spend money on sweets has not yet convinced many spaniards. The 32 old runs since four years ago in “La Platea” his pastry empire where 9 “pasteleros” run the business from 7.30 AM to 3 PM in the background creating everything from lemon cake, to jam croissant and framboise pastry. For Montes the best garantuee for good people in pastry is to pay the right salary and to change the working time: “My people have a day free in the weekend and start at 7.30AM and are home by 4 PM.”
Montes is sure that not just Spain will lead soon the world of gastronomy world wide, but also make an important advance in patisserie: “It will just take some time. We have not the culture of tea time, cookies and christmas bakery or a good breakfast with high class croissants and bred. But I am sure that we will discover the advantages of a good piece of cake or bred and pay the price for it.”
A part from that there is the Foodtruck industry that is booming in Spain. Christmas markets with Gourmet-Streetfood and all kind of events: Spain is today definetely one the most interesting places to learn about Food business.