Pedro Subijana: “More than 90% of our testing never reaches the menu”


Pedro Subijana's talk presented this year's collection of apéritifs at his restaurant Akelarre, telling those present that the fight against food wastage had long been a habitual practice until regulations put an end to it.

“Every year I say this will be the last time because I think you must be fed up with all of us, but I always come back in the end. Most especially, because of my crew”, said Subijana, before introducing his three companions on stage to present this year's collection of apéritifs at his restaurant Akelarre.

The father of Basque cuisine explained that the restaurant's apéritifs had evolved over the years to become such a relevant feature of its gastronomic fare that they needed their own space. “We do all the preparations and testing in the classroom. More than 90% of this is discarded, because it didn't work out, or because we felt the quality wasn't good enough", he added. The year they devised the collection known as "Caja de bombones" or box of chocolate box, the chef went on to say that initially they abandoned the project due to the high cost of the crockery. “They were asking for an exorbitant amount, but we won three stars, we wanted to do something new, and we said, Go on, then, bring it on, whatever it costs", he joked, amid laughter in the Auditorium. On that theme, he also remembered the advice from his friend Arguiñano: "don't change now, don't start doing anything new, because if they've given you the stars it's for the work you've already done, not the work you're going to do".

Subijana then showed the video of how two of the snacks were made. We saw the fritter with carabinero shrimp tartare and wasabi, and the macaroon with a filling of creamed anchovy and spicy "piparra" pepper with powdered olive. The other two, potato "hollows" and "ham-ham", were made up on the stage by his crew.

After the apéritifs, Pedro told the congress that his desire to preserve traditional Basque cookery had been possible in the Oteiza Space - at the Akelarre Hotel - where not only is there old Akelarre fare to be found, but also other recipes. Among them, a new version of sea bass with pepper sauce, which the crew served up live. 

Before finishing up, Subijana offered this reflection: “There's a lot of talk about traceability these days, zero waste, reusing food ... years ago, bottles were returned to be recycled, stale bread went to the hens or it was grated; skin or waste from products were used as animal fodder ... but then the regulations kicked in ... and so the health authorities, for hygiene reasons, wouldn't let you do this or that, and the tax department wouldn't let you do the other ... they changed our lives. And now they tell us we have to go back to doing things the way we used to”.  An argument which met with an enthusiastic reaction from those present, who were left in no doubt as to the opinion of the chef by his very last words, "No te jode" [WTF?].






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