Last week at Madrid Fusion, which is regarded as the foremost summit in modern gastronomy in the world, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia took charge of the third and final day by coming together to promote what is being dubbed ‘New Andean’ cuisine. It was the first time in the festival’s history that a Chilean or a Bolivian restaurant were invited to speak. Needless to say, the day was groundbreaking, and guests walked away inspired, awed, and changed. We were privileged to have Barcelona-native Dany Satine attend the festival and get a taste of just what the crowd saw. Below, read his account of what took place Wednesday, January 29, and just what we can expect to see from the development of New Andean cuisine. We’re pretty excited.
By Dany Satine
This year’s edition of Madrid Fusión were about discovering unexplored territories with what is being called the “Andean axis”, represented by Virgilio Martínez (Central. Lima), Rodolfo Guzmán (Boragó. Santiago de Chile) and Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari (Gustu. La Paz).
South American culture and prospects were the perfect closure for this festival, showing that there’s only one gastronomy, that comes from the raw material and its bases are a mix of crafts, creativity and technology.
The first example of this revelation was Virgilio, whose presentation was charged with sensations, sounds and images of those landscapes that are the sources of inspirations for this haute cuisine at the new continent. The Peruvian Andes nature gives Central the most precious materials for the magnificent creations. Fifty types of corn, salt of maras, alpaca’s heart, Caigua and Kiwicha leaves are just a few extraordinary ingredients that we can find in Martinez’s confections.
With delicacy, he exposes how all these products come from places that are only 10km. away from Central’s kitchen. Every two months he travels around Peru searching and recognizing new elements, with his foundation, Mater Iniciativa, his journeys are accompanied with biologists, cooks and anthropologists. This type of initiatives, allowed him to introduce “Cushuro”, a seaweed that grows in the sides of Peruvian lagoons that are 3000 feet of height, into one of his plates.
At the stage he shows the preparation of “Maiz diverso”, a flawless entry that integrates Cushuro with different textures of Cuzco corn: infusion, germ, and liquefied. The famous anticucho is being placed in a different stage, made with a 48 hours slow cooked grated Alpaca’s heart, Aji Panca, thickened with Chia seeds, and Muña, a type of mint.
The second one to take the Madrid Fusion’s scenario was Rodolfo Guzmán, his entry was marked with the explanation of how the Chilean soil is so temperamental and conjunct a diversity of natures, that include the 4700 km. of coast line, the Atacama desert and the Valdiviana jungle. This variation gives Chile the particularity of one of kind species and fruits with a one-week season.
His approach of getting to know who cultivates the soil and understanding the value of food are the reasons-why of Buragó. This restaurant is a vehicle to travel the original towns where the materials are found.
The first plate he puts in scene is called “Rescoldo” and its introduction filled the air of the auditorium with a strong smell of burned wood Tecú, resembling the original mapuche tribal cooking. With this perfumed hot coal, he cooked some Juncos with sea kale and sea snails, with a touch of olive oil and Molle, served in a wooden sand box.
After the multisensory plate, Guzmán explained the diversity of the Chilean Hawthorn. This bush gives a deep red fruit, which was converted in so many textures and materials: Paste, crumble, and ice cream. The gracefulness of this dessert was so evident when he shows a video filling each 1-centimeter fruit with its own paste. The plate shows the real dried bush branch that was took during the winter accompanied with cotton candy and cocoa powder. The creation feels like a story, that tells how this tree lives all year long.
With this kind of creativity and research, Buragó is able to offers more than 750 confections each year, making Rodolfo Guzmán’s kitchen a constant laboratory of eccentricities, a real reflection of the Chilean soil.
The last but not even close to least presentation was for the couple of Gustu, from La Paz. Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari were, like it was being heard in the auditorium “the true revelations of this year”.
This pair began their story telling about the different altitudes of the capital city of Bolivia and how this factor interferes with the challenges of the artisans producers, like Valerio, a young man that raise Llamas and fishes trouts. This kind of testimony reveals a true mission that Seidler y Cestari are undertaking with Melting Pot Foundation. Understanding the producer and moving this concept into the kitchen, empowering the value of the product.
Llama, Cuajada, Señorita’s honey, Achacana cactus, Papa Lisa, Beet, Hibicus powder and Huacataya are the basis for the new cuisine that is being explore at the Gustu restaurant and school of cooking. This elaborate and social conscious structure already allows around 60 Bolivians to study and work in the haute kitchen.
Gustu is a revelation of the power of the ground and the people who works at it. Kamilla and Michelangelo are empowering the dream of many people who believe in the back-to-basics principles of the kitchen and understand the greatness of the true flavors of a nation. This initiative puts Bolivia in higher standards like never before. Thanks to the devotion of social perspective of the project.
“Madrid Fusion 2014 was closed with a lot of future”, those where the final words of Gastón Acurio, who was truly moved and impressed by Kamilla and Michelangelo’s presentation. This proves once again that new territories provide lots of opportunities.