Gastronomika sneaks into the kitchens of the greats


The best restaurants in Donostia-San Sebastian will serve as a stage for presentations at the congress and, for the first time.

He is one of the most impenetrable figures in world gastronomy. A genius of flame-grilling who hardly ever leaves his grill house and who refuses to make an appearance at conferences. But this time Bittor Arginzoniz will not only take part in San Sebastian Gastronomika - Euskadi Basque Country, he will also open the doors of his restaurant and let congress participants sneak into the kitchen. The presence of Asador Etxebarri, which is no less than the third best restaurant in the world, is one of the strong points of this highly unusual edition of the doyen of culinary congresses, which will be held online and free of charge from October 5 to 9. Twenty-two years after its first edition, Gastronomika seems determined to find new ways of continuing to bring gastronomic culture around the globe.

In addition to Etxebarri, another icon of Basque cuisine, Eneko Atxa, will also be showing live what service is like at his three Michelin-starred restaurant, Azurmendi, which is fourteenth on the list of best restaurants in the world. This will be an exercise in transparency - something unthinkable in the cuisine of a few decades ago - which will not only provide an unprecedented opportunity for an international audience, but will also open up an innovative path for the industry's congresses, of which Gastronomika continues to be a pioneer. “I see this as a tremendous opportunity for the congress to come to our restaurant and help us convey to the world who we are and what we do.”, said Atxa after the news was announced. “Sometimes it is difficult to explain to an audience everything that happens on a daily basis in our kitchen. It is an honour to be able to do so at my restaurant and surrounded by my people”.

To achieve this, a mobile unit will travel to Atxondo and Larrabetzu to show the ins and outs of two of the country's most prestigious kitchens live. Benjamín Lana, president of Vocento's Gastronomy Division and organiser of the congress, will be responsible for getting these two geniuses with a reputation for shyness to express themselves. These two events have now been added to another highlight which was confirmed a few weeks ago, the participation of Ferran Adrià from Cala Montjoi, who will finally show off elBulli1846 and talk about the work being done by the scholarship holders in his new research project.

Hosts from San Sebastian

There will be three presentations that have been classified as events, marking the path taken by Gastronomika in response to a health emergency that has taken up a large part of the events calendar. Making a virtue of necessity, the San Sebastian congress will not only seek to reach new audiences for free but will also take advantage of the online format to go beyond just broadcasting presentations. In fact, some of the most prestigious restaurants in San Sebastian will become the setting for a large part of the programme of events.

So, on Monday the presentations by Pedro Subijana, Paco Morales and Quique Dacosta will be broadcast from Akelarre. On Tuesday, Andoni Luis Aduriz will act as host in Mugaritz for a team of ‘heterodox’ chefs that includes Rafa Peña, Pedro Sánchez, Ivan Domínguez, Nino Redruello and Andreu Genestra, who will talk about bistronomy in response to a change of era. On Wednesday, the Arzak family will do the same with Ángel León and Josean Alija, and on Thursday Diego Schattenhofer will officiate from the kitchens at the Basque Culinary Center. On Friday, Joan Roca, Javier Olleros, Italian chef Carlo Cracco and María Gómez and Pablo González Conejero from Murcia will be at Aiala  in Zarautz.

Two heavyweights, Martín Berasategui and Hilario Arbelaitz, will also be giving presentations from their respective restaurants, and the programme includes other surprises to be revealed that will also be staged in San Sebastian. “The aim is to maintain the link between the congress and the city in this situation until we are able to organise the traditional mass event again”, explained the organisers. Registration is free on the website, a new platform that will also host the entire online calendar of presentations and where details about the participants and the topics that will be dealt with during the 22nd edition of the congress can now be found.

Under the title Bideak-Caminos-Pathways, Gastronomika has set out to explore different ways of looking at gastronomy, from the flexible formats of 'post-bistronomy' to the Black Lives Matter movement applied to cooking, with chefs from Africa, the United States and the Antilles. We will also talk about the uncertain future facing the hospitality sector in times of pandemic, and hear the story of a sister kitchen in Italy. The congress will be spread over five days, with 70 presenters and more than 40 hours of live broadcasting. To lessen the cold nature of digital communication, what better way to warm up than with the embers at Asador Etxebarri.





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