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The year haute cuisine came down to Earth

As top chefs opened up, 2013 saw a Spanish eaterie named the world’s best

In the year the Roca brothers saw their Girona restaurant crowned the best in the world, innovation, new business models and an international outlook continued to make their mark on Spanish cooking.El Celler de Can Roca

Roca solid. Placed number one in Restaurant magazine’s list of the world’s 50 best eateries, El Celler de Can Roca knocked Danish chef René Redzepi’s Noma off the top spot. (The Copenhagen restaurant suffered the mishap of giving 67 people food poisoning, but continued its advances in naturalist cooking regardless.) The international triumph of the creative trio of Joan, Josep and Jordi reinforces, according to them, “the Spanish commitment to the vanguard,” and demonstrates that “creativity is very much alive.”

DiverXo luxuries. At 33, Madrid chef David Muñoz earned his third Michelin star with his daring cooking and turned the idea of luxury on its head, serving up the harmonies of flavors from his DiverXo restaurant in scruffier style with his own take on street food at StreetXo.

Star woman. With her two in Tokyo, two in Barcelona and three in Sant Pol de Mar, Carme Ruscalleda became the woman chef with the most Michelin stars to her name in the world.

The Adriàs keep on running. The hyperactive Ferran Adrià set off on a world tour of universities – including Harvard – to explain his culinary philosophy. He also officially established his elBulli Foundation, presented his Bullipedia (an online encyclopedia of contemporary cuisine) and announced that the elBulli restaurant, newly transformed into a creative laboratory, would reopen in 2015. Meanwhile, his brother Albert Adrià focused on his “neighborhood elBulli” and “haute street cuisine” at the restaurants 41 and Tickets, Japanese-Peruvian fusion joint Pakta and a vermouth bar.

Manual labor. “What’s most modern is the artisanal” – a fact demonstrated at this year’s edition of the Diálogos de Cocina (Cuisine dialogue) conference. Its chief exponent, Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz), this year launched both a book of home cooking, as well as a spray food for making churros and pancakes. And if haute cuisine innovation came down to the level of the supermarket in 2013, the old methods came back home as many discovered a new-found passion for baking their own bread. There was an even bigger craze when it came to creative confectionary in the form of the omnipresent cupcakes, which generated several bestsellers.

Rethinking restaurants. Star chefs combated the crisis with more accessible offerings and a new wave of professionals opted to reinforce the middle-class restaurant market. There was a flurry of new business models and formats. Throwing themselves into that, among others, were Paco Morales (Al Trapo), Marcelo Tejedor (Casa Marcelo) and Quique Dacosta (El Poblet). The international focus provoked migrations and the exporting of ideas: Dani García conquered New York with Manzanilla and in London Nacho Manzano triumphed with Ibérica, Marcos Morán with Hispania, and Juan Mari and Elena Arzak with Ametsa, which earned a Michelin star.

Winning wine. Last year saw a historic success for the Rioja region: for the first time Wine Spectator magazine chose a Spanish wine as the best of the year – Cune’s Imperial Gran Reserva 2004.

Closures. The restaurant of the late Santi Santamaria, Can Fabes, closed in August and in December, after the family decided it was impossible to continue the business, its assets were auctioned off. Another closure – albeit a temporary one – affected Sergi Arola’s Madrid restaurant after the chef ran into trouble with the taxman.

Leader. Chef Gastón Acurio went on winning prizes for his leadership of the culinary revolution in Peru (which celebrated the international year of quinoa in 2013) and ended the year with newspaper front pages in his home country singling him out as a potential presidential candidate.

TV chefs. Culinary television shows seduced the public. Following on the back of Pesadilla en la cocina, the Spanish version of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares series, which returned for a second series in 2013, were cookery talent shows MasterChef – which also had a version for children – and TopChef.

Edible movies. Gastrocinema was everywhere and the Film & Cook festival launched a Madrid edition alongside the one in Barcelona.

Happy birthday. The magazine Apicius, a leading publication in the world of vanguard cooking, celebrated its 10th anniversary. An appetite for paper remains, it seems.

Source: El Pais – Rosa Rivas Madrid 2 ENE 2014

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