Elena Arzak, World’s Best Female Chef, To Do Collab Dinner at Vask

arzak vask

Elena Arzak Gallery Vask Chele GonzalezIt’s confirmed: Chef Elena Arzak, in collaboration with Chef Jose Luis “Chele” Gonzalez, is designing a menu at the Arzak laboratory using Philippine ingredients to be presented at Gallery Vask on the first evening of Madrid Fusion Manila, April 24.

Restaurant Arzak is one of the most respected and highly acclaimed restaurants in the world. It has maintained, to this day, the three Michelin stars it earned in 1989. Other restaurants lose a star or two along the way but Arzak has maintained its 3-Michelin Star status for 25 years. It has also consistently kept its place in the Top 10 of the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants since 2006.

arzak vask
Throwback: Vask’s Chele Gonzalez with Elena Arzak

Chef Elena runs Arzak with her father, Chef Juan Mari Arzak, who is considered the father of modern Basque cuisine. He is credited for spearheading the Nueva Cocina Vaska (New Basque Cuisine) movement that laid the foundation for a larger Spanish culinary revolution. Many chefs have been inspired by this movement started by Arzak, the greatest example being El Bulli’s Ferran Adria. Chef Juan Mari was honored with the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

Arzak

The restaurant is known for its avante garde, sometimes whimsical, dishes. It serves beer pudding literally on top of a crushed can of beer. Sardines are delicately placed inside a potato sphere. And for a trip to the sea with San Sebastian’s red mullet, the fish is served on top of a tablet that has a video clip of waves.

In an interview with Inquirer Sunday Biz at the Restaurant Arzak chef’s table last January, Chef Elena explained that every dish served at the restaurant begins not in the kitchen but in the laboratory, where the item goes through a process of tasting and testing until it merits Juan Mari’s and her approval. This process could take as short as six days but could also take as long as six months.

Which makes the April 24 dinner priceless.

Chef Chele, who worked in Arzak for a year and a half, has been applying the Arzak culinary philosophy of promoting local ingredients in an avante garde fashion to his creations at Gallery Vask. He started a degustation series he calls Kulinarya using ingredients he personally sourced from all over the country, going as far as visiting indigenous tribes in Kalinga and Bukidnon. For his Kulinarya menu, he has an appetizer of eggplants he found in Bukidnon; kinilaw of “uni” that he found in Sorsogon; and cochinillo slices with kalibangbang leaves from Pampanga.

Arzak Chele
Throwback: Vask’s Chef Chele Gonzalez working the Arzak kitchen with owner Chef Juan Mari Arzak, Lifetime Achievement Awardee of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards and pioneer of Spanish modern gastronomy

Arzak Laboratory

But for this dinner, it is the Arzak team in San Sebastian led by Chef Juan Mari and Chef Elena themselves who will be playing with Philippine ingredients. These ingredients will be brought this March to the Arzak lab in San Sebastian. The creations—or shall we say inventions—produced from the lab will be presented by Chef Elena and Chef Chele at the April 24 dinner at Gallery Vask.

The dinner will be priced at P9,500 a head with wine pairing. This is a bargain considering the tasting menu at Restaurant Arzak is already priced at 179 Euro without wine. Consider it a trip to Arzak without the plane ticket! Plus, your meal may be tax deductible as proceeds for the dinner will go to Fundacion Santiago, a private Filipino charity established in 1993 aimed at using the benefits of tourism for poverty alleviation.

Gallery Vask can only accommodate 40, so book a table now!

Arzak, Mugaritz Back to Back at Gallery Vask

If you’ll miss this dinner, not to worry. Vask is set to hold three special dinners on the three evenings of Madrid Fusion Manila (April 24, 25, 26). The 25th is Chef Chele’s night while on the 26th, Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, currently No. 6 on the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is also set to cook at Vask.

Gonzalez keenly points out, “I believe this is the first time in Asia that two chefs in the Top 10 of the World’s 50 best will cooking in an event. Madrid Fusion Manila, I believe, is a great opportunity to (make Manila) become a culinary destination.”

Mugaritz is a two-star Michelin restaurant in Spain but currently the No. 6 Best Restaurant in the World as ranked by the World’s 50 Best.

Aduriz is regarded as a genius, renowned for his culinary innovations. He was influenced by Chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli, which held the No. 1 rank for many years. Aduriz says that El Bulli, where he used to work, changed his life. (When El Bulli closed, Adria was quoted by The Guardian as saying that now the best chef in the world, aside from his brother Albert, is Andoni Luis Aduriz.)

Aduriz is passing on the inspiration to chefs who had in turn worked with him at Mugaritz. There was a Mugaritz tribute at Madrid Fusion where chefs who had worked at Mugaritz but now spreading their wings abroad were called on to the stage. Among these chefs was Vask’s Chele Gonzalez, of whom Aduriz is very proud. In an interview in Madrid, Aduriz described Gonzalez as an ambassador of Mugaritz and said that he was looking forward to exploring the Philippines with Chele.

The Mugaritz dinner will also be priced at P9,500 a head. Proceeds will go to the same charity that the Arzak dinner will help.

Chef Ivan Brehm of Singapore’s Bacchanalia, also a Mugaritz ‘grad’, will be doing a collaboration with Chef Jordy Navarra at The Black Sheep.

It’s going to be a hot culinary scene this April indeed on the week of Madrid Fusion Manila.

Gallery Vask
5/F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. +63 917 546 1673. Reservations required.

Madrid Fusion 2015 Shines Spotlight on Philippines

MADRID FUSION Manila
MADRID FUSION MYRNA SEGISMUNDO
Chef Myrna Segismundo will be a guest chef at Hotel Orfila during Madrid Fusion 2015

As published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 11, 2015.

“We never thought this would happen in our lifetime,” Chef Myrna Segismundo said, sharing the news that she and Chef Margarita Fores will be cooking at Madrid Fusion in Spain this February.

Madrid Fusion-International Gastronomic Summit is one of the most prestigious gatherings of chefs and influencers in the culinary world.

It is an annual three-day event of food exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations and dinners prepared by celebrity chefs from around the world who are invited to cook at Madrid’s most renowned hotels and dining venues.

This year, Madrid Fusion will be held from Feb. 2 to 4 at the Campo de las Naciones Convention Centre and for the first time, the Philippines will be in the spotlight!

Kinilaw takes center stage

On Feb. 2, Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, one of the world’s best restaurants, will speak on the “Mechanisms of Creativity” in the morning; while Chef Elena Arzak, from her multi-awarded eponymous restaurant Arzak (and who has been named Best Female Chef in the world), will discuss “Leafy Cuisine” a little past noon.

But come 6:30 p.m., the Philippine flag will be raised high among these culinary greats as two Filipino chefs,  Segismundo and Fores, take the stage to talk for half an hour about a humble dish we all know: kinilaw.

“I made the Spanish organizers of Madrid Fusion taste kinilaw, among other dishes, when they were last here in Manila to do an ocular, and they really loved this dish so we were asked to present on it,” Segismundo explained.

“I think kinilaw is a great introductory dish to Philippine cuisine because it is unique to us,” she added.

They will present three versions of the kinilaw: the classic take on it using suka (vinegar), a modern version using cava and one using tabon-tabon.

MADRID FUSION BERNA DOA 2
Agriculture Usec Berna Romulo Puyat is curating the best of Philippine produce and products for Madrid Fusion 2015

It is not only the kinilaw that guests at Madrid Fusion will be exposed to, however.

As visitors enter, they will see a large Philippine booth showcasing the best of Philippine produce curated by Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Agriculture. The booth will present Philippine products based on the five flavors of the Philippines: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and “linamnam” (our counterpart for umami).

These will include Philippine mangoes for the food category “Sweet”, chicharon for “Salty”, the Mindanao tropical fruit tabon-tabon for “Sour”, ampalaya for “Bitter” and heirloom rice such as Kalinga and Ifugao rice and taba ng talangka for “Linamnam”.

The booth will also present Filipino beverages such as Destileria Limtuaco’s Manille Liqueur, Philippine juices and tsokolate.

“This is a chance for the world to get to know Filipino ingredients like souring agents and heirloom rice,” Romulo-Puyat said.

This will be her fourth exhibition of Philippine products in Europe.

In 2013, she organized “Philippines, An Archipelago of Exchange” at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, where 10 Filipino chefs led by Fores impressed the French with their Pinoy cooking at the press luncheon and the cocktail reception for the French prime minister. In 2014, there was a Philippine booth at the Grünewoche International Green Week in Berlin in January; and another proudly Pinoy booth at the Slow Food Festival entitled Salone del Gusto in Turino, Italy in October.

“We want to show that the Philippines is not backward (in terms of produce and cuisine),” Romulo-Puyat explained. “In Paris, the French were initially skeptical with Filipino food but after tasting our food (as presented by Fores), they changed their minds. They said, ‘We didn’t know Filipinos have great food!’”

She is also very proud that in Berlin, with the Philippine booth placed between the booths of Japan and Korea, the longest queue was for the adobo with mangoes.

Madrid Fusion Manila

MADRID FUSION 2015. Madrid Fusion Manila. DOT Director Verna Buensuceso, Chef Margarita Fores, Chef Chele Gonzales, Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, Jr., Mielle Esteban and Iñigo Casado of Arum.
THE TEAM that made it happen: (From left) DOT Director Verna Buensuceso, Chef Margarita Fores, Chef Chele Gonzales, Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, Jr., Mielle Esteban and Iñigo Casado of Arum.

On the second day of Madrid Fusion, the Philippines will also launch Madrid Fusion Manila, which will be held from April 24-26 at SMX.

It is the first time that Madrid Fusion will be held in Asia—a brainchild of Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez. Fores was the force who convinced the DOT to participate in Madrid Fusion, but when she enticed Sec. Jimenez to set up a Philippine booth at the expo, he said, “Let’s take it a step further. Why not invite them to hold Madrid Fusion here in the Philippines? After all, we have a story with them and a relationship that lasted 333 years!”

In Sept. 2014, this idea became reality when Sec. Jimenez and Spain’s Secretary of State for Trade and president of ICEX (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior) Jaime García-Legaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Madrid Fusion Manila, with no less than President Benigno Aquino III standing as witness.

Tourism Director Verna Buensuceso is now diligently heading the project, with the help of Monette Iturralde-Hamlin of the Tourism Promotions Board.

Buensuceso stressed, “This is especially important as 2015 is Visit the Philippines year. We hope this will raise awareness about the Philippines and, as we present our products to both investors and gourmets, prove that the future of food is in the Philippines.”

Dining with the stars

#throwback Margarita Fores with El Bulli's Ferran Adria at Madrid Fusion 2007
#Throwback Margarita Fores with El Bulli’s Ferran Adria at Madrid Fusion 2007. Cut to 2015: Fores will be cooking at Hotel Ritz Madrid.

Aside from the exhibition, guests of Madrid Fusion (in Spain) are also given the opportunity to experience the cooking of guest chefs from around the world at participating restaurants and hotels in Madrid. Here is the breaking news: among the celebrity chefs cooking for Madrid Fusion 2015 are our very own  Segismundo and  Fores.

Segismundo will cook on Feb. 3 at the Hotel Orfila, a small palace from the 19th century, while Fores will cook at the highly acclaimed Goya Restaurant at Hotel Ritz Madrid on Feb. 4.

Right now, these two chefs are researching and practicing for this monumental event where they will present our flavors to the most discerning and acclaimed gourmets of the world.

Milestone

This is definitely a milestone for Philippine cuisine that will certainly boost our tourism and agricultural industries. Our chefs are now poised to be called among those considered to be the best in the world and our produce and flavors are set to be recognized by a most discerning and influential international market.

Viva Madrid, Viva Manila!

For details on Madrid Fusion in Spain, please visit www.madridfusion.net.
For details on Madrid Fusion Manila, please visit www.madridfusionmanila.com and like their Facebook page Madrid Fusion Manila.