March 16, 2007

Dialogos de Cocina- Kitchen Talk Quotes

and now as promised... For a full account of my impressions of the Dialogos de Cocina congress in San Sebastian/Donostia this week, click on the Global Blog of the IACP--International Association of Culinary Professionals. Below, I have plucked a few jewels from the many notes I took, bearing in mind that between listening to simultranslating and writing as fast as I could, I might have not quite captured the literal translation. However, the heart and soul of the speakers were laid out in such generousity, that I trust they will forgive any mistakes I have made. For a more direct account, you can now go to the congress website at to access the videos and their translations. They only thing missing will be a stop in a tapas bar afterwards for a glass of Txakoli and some anchovies.

On Farmers and Products

“Our work is the recovery of autochthonous breeds, to recover the flavor of our childhood and dignify the work of the farmers… farmers who have been brave enough to be fighters to battle…”
Marino Gomez Fernandez- Euskal Abereak

“ There is a belief, a utopia that cooks have to get close to nature, to help producers- but it is not necessary for every cook to be a farmer. There is a relationship based on trust that the quality will be there, a mutual relationship as educators for the consumers.

"Food can not be too cheap- the producer is not paid enough, tor the consumer is harming his health, cheap products are dangerous. We must reach a minimum quality for everyone, leaving slow-scale producing for those who decide they wish to instead of spending money on a trip, or other goods, will choose good food.”
Cinzia Scaffidi- Slow Food

“ Cooking is an art, a search for invention, so led by that same frenzy we thought we could also create a new bouquet of ham- those fed on figs and cured like vintage wine.”
Carlos Tristancho- Pais Quercus- producer of Iberian ham

“Farmers are the first creators as cooks are…”
Jose Uranga- Basque organic farmer and spokesperson

“Products are the consequences of our eating. We have to consider the reality—I am young but have seen the disappearance of 5-6 species from the sea.”
Albert Adria-

“The biggest problem is the connection with the producer. The EU puts such pressure on the farmer; a revolution is needed if we can’t maintains this producers.”
Pedro Subijana

On Science and Cooking

“Science and cooking are old Friends. What science has to offer is a perspective, a point of view… Looking under the surface of contained, stable foods, we find a rich possibility for change.”

‘Trust your senses; let the food inform you.”

Harold MacGee-

“Science changes- it must! I insist on this dynamic quality of both science and cooking.”

“Cooking has to be an art to please us; science can be useful to achieve this goal.
Technique must not be used as an innovation. Technique is not apparent, it is under neath”

“How delicious!” is a better compliment then saying what great techniques are being used.”

David Cassi

On Inspiration and Creativity

“ An element of naïveté can be a beautiful thing.”

Heston Blumenthal

“Inspiration comes when you are working, not resting.”
Jose Luis Larrea

“History is a kind of great kitchen where we see the work of men…”

Santos Bergana

“French cuisine traveled the world but did not pose questions.”
“ We saw a rupture in a link between producer and cook; Now thanks to Michel Bras, we have a link.”

Luc Dubanchet

“I was captured like a child in the circus, by the Kitchen”

Juan-Mari Arzak

“Cooking… is an imperative to play. How to welcome the customer, how to take them to the table, to be playful with this. I am a child there.”

“We talk a lot about shadows and light. I wonder while walking under a blue sky, sometimes grayer. I try to translate my feelings of that sky into a dish. I make notes, small drawings of this play of shadow and light and how to transfer it into a dish.

“ My cuisine is more emotional, not technical. It is very personal; the producers, the waiters are people with names and surnames. The restaurant is my home, my house, an expression of myself.”

Michel Bras

“It is a wish to integrate the new within our comfort zone. The mixing and mingling of cuisine happens over time…. There is a big dispute about the introduction of new cuisine, a big fear for the traditional. We play on the near and the far, the micro local and the rest of the world.”

“ The cuisine of the individual is what is really being developed- to make ourselves understood and to understand the world.”

Benedict Beaugé

And in my haste, I scribbled the last of 96 pages of notes without noting this last speaker. My apologies and great appreciation to those who brought us together under one roof to talk about cooking-these Kitchen Talks.

“ There is no gastronomy without discourse. To find the best word, the least used word, we all have to write of it otherwise we risk losing the battle. “

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