The great international chef has come to San Sebastián to pick up the Gastronomika Homage award with a plea for gastronomic union between France and Spain. “In the past they wanted to pit us against each other, but that’s all obsolete”, he explained. The chef took the opportunity to provide details of the restaurant that he has just opened in Paris with Albert Adrià, a restaurant where there will be dishes they have prepared together “without knowing who has cooked what”.
In this year of “Reunions”, when the congress welcomes France and its cooking, the San Sebastian Gastronomika management had no doubts when it came to naming the winner of the Homage Award: Alain Ducasse. “He not only deserves it because he is someone who has the most Michelin stars in the world (21 altogether, in restaurants in France, Monaco, the USA, the UK, Japan, Thailand, China, Singapore and Qatar), but also because of everything that he has represented and represents in the international gastronomic community: the positioning of the Mediterranean, naturalness based on tradition but always forward-looking and the creation, in short, of a style of his own that has inspired and continues to inspire generations”, sources from the organisation explained.
This display of respect and admiration was transferred to the actual award-giving ceremony itself, presided over by the Basque chefs and members of the Technical Committee, Pedro Subijana, Juan Mari Arzak, Hilario Arbelaitz, Josean Alija, Eneko Atxa and Andoni Luis Aduriz, who included French gastronomy as a whole in their congratulations as “without its learning we wouldn’t be what we are”. Alain Ducasse came up to receive the award, and a makila –a baton that is presented to people who have earned merit- which he was given by Arzak and Subijana. He himself thanked them for the award “for coming from who it comes from, from my friends, from my colleagues, and professionals who I admire and respect”: a standing ovation and a lot of shared stories.
The great international chef continued: “I am an heir to French cooking, a cuisine that has made demands on me but above all has given me the freedom to forge my own path, and to establish a dialogue with all the culinary cultures of the world”, he added in a nod to the restaurant that he has just opened with Albert Adrià in Paris, “the latest demonstration of how Spanish and French cuisine can come together and enrich each other”, Benjamín Lana, director-general of Vocento Gastronomy, had mentioned previously.
“ADMO -Ducasse continued – is the sum of French and Spanish cooking, a European haute cuisine restaurant. In the past they wanted to pit chefs from both sides of the Pyrenees against each other, but that’s all obsolete now. And this is what ADMO shows, “that European cuisines need to learn to cook together”.
Who is each dish by?
ADMO opened its doors last week in the Les Ombres restaurant at the Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac museum in the French capital, and this is “a free restaurant, where we’ll be cooking together -Ducasse through Romain Meder, his right-hand man-, without the diner needing to know who the dish is by”, he said. The Spanish part of ADMO was also on stage. Albert Adrià accompanied Ducasse in the presentation and stressed the cross-border message: “If political Europe has no borders, the gastronomic Europe doesn’t either. And ADMO is also the example of how two cuisines that are culturally so close to each other have to coexist”. He continued: “Our styles are different but they start out from the same basis: making good food. Furthermore, I’m playing away from home, so I’m trying to adapt to your cooking”
Meder confirmed this line of reasoning by telematic connection from the restaurant in Paris. While he prepared two dishes from the menu, which will change according to the response of diners and the season (a dish of vegetable game with mole and another with marinated scallops with caramelised shallots, “where Albert has provided the cooking technique”, he mentioned), Meder explained that ADMO aims to prepare “radical dishes with a lot of taste, with textures, with emotion, with rough edges, a tasty different kind of cuisine where both philosophies are combined”, as in the case of the scallops: “one provides the technique, the other the produce”. The final challenge –he said again- “is for people not to know who has made each dish. “Neither French nor Spanish cuisine. European haute cuisine”, the award-winner repeated.
Apart from Adrià, Ducasso and Meder, the pastry chef from the world of Ducasse, Jessica Préalpato –Best Pastry-chef in the world 2020- is also taking part in ADMO; with Michel Lang, a cornerstone in the Ducasse dining room who was already at the first Louis XV, and with Pol Perelló, a reference point in the Bulli universe. The sommelier is Gérard Margeon –the super-sommelier from all the Ducasse restaurants- and Vincent Chaperon, seventh Dom Pérignon Chef de Cave is also present.