The annual San Sebastián Gastronomika, one of the most well attended congresses in the culinary realm, hosts chefs from different parts of the world at the Kursaal complex in the first week of October every year. Over the past few years invitees and speakers have included chefs from France, UK, Italy, South America, and this year the focus was the culinary hub of the Pacific and the contemporary version of Asian cuisine. Chefs from Singapore and Hong Kong brought their cuisines and philosophies to the podium as well as collaborating with other local chefs in the region to tantalize the palates of lucky guests at some exclusive events. The auditorium was packed with enthralled audiences which included a large number of culinary students got an insight into the food culture of faraway Asia.
Eneko Atxa, the young three Michelin-starred chef from Azurmendi on the outskirts of Bilbao hosts visiting chefs every year during the congress to collaborate on an exclusive dining experience. Atxa is known for his sustainable sensibilities and grows a lot of his herbs and produce for his modernist restaurant in greenhouses on the 40 acre complex. This year Andre Chiang of the Andre restaurant in Singapore, listed as the fifths best restaurant on the Asia’s 50 Best list joined Atxa and Chef Ricard Camarena of Valencia, Spain whose eponymous restaurant holds one Michelin star for a spectacular dinner. The menu featuring twenty courses in the individual styles of all three chefs was a first of its kind meal based around fermented juices.
Atxa when asked what made him such a good host to attract these talented chefs to collaborate with him every year simply stated “I just try to make people feel at home and am absolutely obsessed with the idea of people being really happy when they leave after a great experience.” Andre Chiang is one of Asia’s most well-known chefs trained in a classic French kitchen whose octaphilosophy is based on the theory that our memories and experiences impact our palates. About the evening he stated “We tried a different way of collaborating between chefs.” Chef Camarena said “Cooking in the Azurmendi kitchen with Eneko and Andre was a dream.”
The interesting menu included dishes such as a salted anchovy millefeuille, rice, buckwheat and barley juice, kokotxas, and hake, pigeon duxelle, asparagus cotton, and mushroom leaves with perfect wine pairings. The diners left in the early hours of the morning having enjoyed one of the most spectacular meals and stories of their experience to relate. The event was a collaboration with the city council of Bilbao and the Apicius Montagud Magazine Publishers and Azurmendi.