San Sebastián Gastronomika, one of the world’s premiere culinary conferences, announced this week the programming for this year’s event, October 7-10.
This year’s conference will feature the greats from the father of modern cuisine: cuisine française. The most famous of its chefs will be in attendance: Alain Senderens, Jacques Maximin, Pierre Gagnaire, Michel Bras, Michel Troisgros and Anne-Sophie Pic. And, perhaps most importantly, its famous wines, cheeses, and the products that make French cuisine what it is.
Attendees can also look forward to a tasting competition between Spanish and French cheeses. And, of course, the list of local chefs that is really, really impressive: Arbelaitz, Arzak, Berasategui, Aduriz y Subijana, Joan Roca, Quique Dacosta, Carme Ruscalleda, Dani García. You can visit San Sebastian Gastronomika for more information.
The other exciting change? Moving it to the beginning of October, for better weather. Love this place.
Out of San Sebastián, there is a program that is gaining in renown and popularity worldwide called BasqueStage. BasqueStage is a program that gives cooks the opportunity to learn from some of the best chefs in the world, up close and personal. It’s EXACTLY the kind of thing that back in my cooking by night, dreaming of Basque Country by day heyday I would have died to be a part of.
Recently, Chef Martín Berasategui has announced the winners of the 2012 4th Sammic Scholarship with BasqueStage. The winners are Brenden Darby and Luuk Hoffman, and they will join the kitchen of Restaurante Martín Berasategui, ranked in the San Pellegrino World’s Top 100, beginning in July 2012. They were chosen out of over 150 applicants in this, the fourth round of the continually growing BasqueStage program.
Brenden Darby is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, where he graduated Dean’s List and Honors Society. He is also completing is WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) Advanced Certificate. He recently spent six months traveling and volunteering in Southeast Asia, and also has varied restaurant experience under his belt.
Luuk Hoffman is a young Dutch cook, a graduate of the Hotel School in the Hague and a current student at Sterklas in Amsterdam for an advanced culinary degree. He has worked with an impressive roster of chefs.
So what do they win? Get ready….flights to Basque Country, 500 euros a month stipend, an apartment, immediate exposure via blogs and social media, and the chance to learn under one of Spain’s most renowned and famous chefs. Not bad, huh?
Do your friends a favor and tell them about this opportunity…the next round will open in a few months and it promises to be bigger and better!
Yesterday the announcement for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants was made, and Basque Country chefs continue to have a very outsized presence on this list.
Coming in at NUMBER THREE is a personal favorite of mine, located ten minutes outside of San Sebastián, Mugaritz. Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and his team is truly deserving of that spot. Arzak also holds strong, at number 8, with Elena Arzak winning an additional accolade of Best Female Chef.
For me, what is truly special about the Basque presence in the top 50 is not only the outsized presence Basque chefs hold (for a region that isn’t much bigger than an American state) but also how loyal they are to their culinary traditions. Eating at one of these restaurants is NOT a cosmopolitan, global experience. It’s quite the opposite-the meals tend to be strongly tied to their location and traditions (like the Wind Comb dessert, from Arzak, above). It’s a strength.
Etxebarri, in leaps and bounds that can be attributed to word of mouth as well as alignment with current gastronomic trends such as using amazing product and leaving well enough alone, comes in this year at number 31. Martín Berasategui, on the other hand, drops to 67.
A pintxo bar that’s a modern take on Donostian small plate staples like foie and croquetas (which were particularly delicious), it’s located in the heart of the old town on 31st of August Street in the locale that used to be home to Bide Bide.
Here’s a sneak pintxo peek, a contrast of textures: grilled scallop + popcorn | vieira + palomitas.