Where is the restaurant/ F&B scene headed this 2016? Learnings and takeaways from Madrid Fusion 2016

From Andoni Aduriz (Mugaritz) to Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park) to Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca) to Josean Alija.. Madrid Fusion 2016 was a congregation of some of the best chefs in the world

My first trip this 2016 was to the Spanish capital for Madrid Fusion. It was my second time to attend one of the most important culinary events in the world— that’s part conference and part trade show, where some of the best chefs in the world are invited to speak and showcase their latest philosophies, movements, ingredients, discoveries and recipes. (Click HERE to see what transpired last year.)

I flew via KLM— my first time– from Manila to Taipei to Amsterdam (happy to stopover for some Dutch breakfast like stroopwafels and poffertjes – and of course, a sip of Heineken!) and finally to Madrid.

My 1st time to fly KLM! So cool that Viktor & Rolf did their amenity kit! And the menu cover-- "Girl eating Oysters" by Dutch master Jan Steen!
My 1st time to fly KLM! So cool that Viktor & Rolf did their amenity kit! And the menu cover– “Girl eating Oysters” by Dutch master Jan Steen!
Too cute!! Every business class passenger receives a delft blue house filled with Dutch gin called genever, a tradition KLM has carried on since the 1950s
Too cute!! Upon landing, every business class passenger receives a delft blue house filled with Dutch gin called genever, a tradition KLM has carried on since the 1950s
Dutch breakfast at KLM Crown Lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Having a little Dutch breakfast at the KLM Lounge in Amsterdam while waiting for my next flight: poffertjes (fluffy mini Dutch pancakes), maasdam (Swiss-style Dutch cheese), herbed chicken coldcut, low-fat yogurt, speculaas (spiced biscuits), and of course, mini STROOPWAFELS (syrup wafels)! Plus, coffee, cremant and just ONE sip of Heineken, and only cos I haven’t been back to the Netherlands in 10 years (kahit transit lang!) Happy Sunday!

This year’s Madrid Fusion held at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos had a recurrent topic among several of the chef-speakers: reviving ancestry and respect for produce.

Latin America’s top chefs Virgilio Martinez (Central, Peru), Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur, France) and Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil, Mexico) opened their session with a live “traditional kitchen fire” onstage — the way their ancestors cooked back in the day. They had banded together to form Origenes (Origins) to honor their Latin American ancestry (Colagreco is Argentinean) and to revive the ingredients and prehistoric cooking techniques of their land by traveling around the continent and working with farmers and suppliers, using their knowledge to create traceability.

“We are trying to recover the traditional gastronomy of our communities and bring back a very human concept and relationship in cuisine, and keep these elements alive,” said Vallejo.

Origenes (Origins)- Jorge Vallejo, Virgilio Martirez, Mauro Colagreco- Madrid Fusion 2016
Latin America’s top chefs Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil, Mexico), Virgilio Martinez (Central, Peru) and Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur, France) andopened their session with a live “traditional kitchen fire” onstage — the way their ancestors cooked back in the day. “We want to go back to the techniques of our ancestors,” said Mauro. “More and more there are less producers because the children dont continue what the grandparents are doing.”

Josean Alija talked about going back to basics at his Nerua at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, where he is known for painstakingly putting vegetables from his immediate natural environment center-stage. “There are no shortcuts for excellence,” he declared.

Our very own Chele Gonzalez — the only Philippine-based chef who presented this year (introduced by no less than his mentor, Mugaritz’s Andoni Aduriz) spoke about his travels around the country and how he incorporated cooking techniques from the Aetas into the dishes he serves at Gallery Vask. (Yours truly was honored to have been invited to write Chele’s biography for the Madrid Fusion 2016 book– and translated to Spanish, too!)

Mugaritz's Andoni Aduriz introducing Gallery Vask's Chele Gonzalez- Madrid Fusion 2016
From mentor to protege: Mugaritz’s Andoni Aduriz introduces Gallery Vasks Chele Gonzalez before his presentation
Chele Gonzalez- Gallery Vask- Madrid Fusion 2016
Gallery Vask
Chele Gonzalez- Madrid Fusion 2016 Book- Written by Cheryl Tiu
I’m honored to have been invited to write Chele’s biography for the Madrid Fusion 2016 book, and to have it translated to Spanish, too!

David Thompson declared that the most important “equipment” at his Nahm in Thailand was his mortar and pestle. “We make everything by hand,” he said.

A conversation with the American avant-garde Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, New York) and Grant Achatz (Alinea, Chicago) also touched on an important reality for restaurateurs and chefs today. “Restaurants today have multiple personalities; they can evolve,” said Achatz. “Before, every time you return [to a restaurant], it had to be the same. Now people want the opposite, they want a different experience. That’s where fine dining is going… you take the risk and adapt to what people want.”

Humm agreed: “For a young chef, coming out to find himself on his own and is wondering which way to go… there is no one right way anymore; there are now so many ways. There isn’t even a real recipe anymore.”

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A conversation with the American avant-garde Alinea’s Grant Achatz and Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm

There was a Philippine reception held at Pedro Larumbe ABC where Filipino chefs Margarita Fores, Chele Gonzalez and Miko Aspiras each cooked and prepared dishes from their respective restaurants for the audience. It was here where they announced Madrid Fusion Manila 2016, happening this April 7 to 9 at SMX.

Madrid Fusion 2016 Philippine Reception at Pedro Larumbe - Angelo Comsti, Ivan Saiz, Carlos Villaflor, Miko Aspiras, David Thompson, Margarita Fores, Chele Gonzalez, Amb. Carlos Salinas, Jose Capel
Our 3 Philippine chefs prepared pass-around tapas last night– chicharon and barquillos w/ chive mousse (Margarita Fores); adobo mousse and tiradito (Chele Gonzalez); and mango tostada, and pili nut and brown butter polvoron (Miko Aspiras). And behind every great chef are also some very talented chefs in the kitchen.. Great job Ivan Saiz Sardo and Carlos Villaflor (Gallery Vask) and Angelo Comsti (Margarita Fores Group)! Let’s go, Philippines!

Elena Arzak really loved the Philippines and she so gamely went and tried every single one of the dishes. She told me she was so sad she couldn’t make it to the Philippines this year, and that “My trip to the Philippines was so memorable. The people, the culture, the food.. It had a lot of impact on me and influenced some of the dishes now that I serve at Arzak.” Wow, how heartwarming is that?! We love you, too, Elena!!!

Elena Arzak loves the Philippines! Here she is eating Miko Aspiras' polvoron at the Philippine reception
Elena Arzak loves the Philippines! Here she is eating Miko Aspiras’ polvoron at the Philippine reception

The following day, the cast of cool was officially presented at Madrid Fusion. The following visiting Manila are:

Presenting the cast of chefs coming to Manila this April 7 to 9 for Madrid Fusion Manila 2016: d Fusion 2016- Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca), Jordi Butron (EspaiSucre), Jose Andres, Virgilio Martinez, Angel Leon, Richard Camarena, Jorge Vallejo, Chele Gonzalez, Margarita Fores, Miko Aspiras, David Thompson
Presenting the cast of chefs coming to Manila this April 7 to 9 for Madrid Fusion Manila 2016: d Fusion 2016- Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca), Jordi Butron (EspaiSucre), Jose Andres (Minibar), Virgilio Martinez (Central), Angel Leon (Aponiente), Richard Camarena (Ricard Camarena) Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil), Chele Gonzalez (Gallery Vask), Margarita Fores (Lusso, Grace Park), Miko Aspiras (Scout’s Honor), David Thompson (Nahm)
Asia's Best Female Chef for 2016, our very own Margarita Fores, and Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas, and wife, Mme. Isabel
Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2016, our very own Margarita Fores, and Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas, and wife, Mme. Isabel

This year’s Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM) 2016 will take place at the SMX Convention Center from April 7 to 9. It is themed: “The Manila Galleon: East Meets West.” The Trade Expo will highlight ingredients, gourmet products, creative tableware, culinary equipment, regional culinary treats from the Philippines, Spain and other countries around Asia and likewise, Europe and the Americas.

I spoke to some of the chefs on what they are looking forward to during their visit, and what they will be speaking about:

Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain)
(#1 Restaurant in the World- World’s 50 Best Restaurants; 3 Michelin Stars)

“I hope to taste Filipino food. And spend some time with the Filipino people.”

Cheryl Tiu- Joan Roca- Madrid Fusion 2016
Yup, the world’s #1 chef Joan Roca is coming to the Philippines for the first time this April!

Virgilio Martinez (Central, Lima, Peru)
(#1 Restaurant in Latin America; #4 Restaurant in the World- World’s 50 Best Restaurants)

“[In Manila], I will be speaking about the next menus we are conceptualizing on altitudes. The menu will be based on the ecosystem, each course representing an altitude. We will be mixing biodiversity in terms of the Amazon meeting the Andes meeting the Coast. I will bring some images and make the people taste what I am doing; it’s part of bringing what I do in Peru. Then, it is important [to share] that we are not using anything coming from a source that we do not know. We do not use sugar anymore. If we want to sweeten something, we make some infusions or dry some fruits; so we obtain all the sweetness from the herbs like stevia. We do our own umami and play with it. Everything has to be natural; we have this huge challenge of having 100-percent-traceability for our restaurant — a concept we are doing that can be replicated anywhere in the world — and make an impact.”

Virgilio Martinez- Madrid Fusion 2016
Latin America’s #1 Virgilio Martirez of Central, Peru

Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil, Mexico City, Mexico)
(#6 Restaurant in Latin America; #35 Restaurant in the World- World’s 50 Best Restaurants)

“For me, it’s going to be interesting to speak about the trades of the spices. We have a lot of similarities in the kitchen [with Mexico and the Philippines] with the tamales and adobo. I used to work in a cruise ship a long time ago and I made friends with Filipinos. I know the flavors of sabaw, adobo, so it’s something I want to share. I do some adobo also in Mexico and I want to put into context what’s adobo for us and what’s adobo for you.”

Chele Gonzalez, Cheryl Tiu, Jorge Vallejo- Madrid Fusion 2016- 2
Chele and I with Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil

David Thompson (Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand)
(#7 Best Restaurant in Asia; #22 Best Restaurant in the World- World’s 50 Best Restaurants)

“I look forward to learning more about Philippine street food. And hopefully to see more outside Manila.”

Philippine Star managing editor Kathy Moran interviewing David Thompson
Philippine Star managing editor Kathy Moran interviewing David Thompson

Apart from them, it was also really good to reunite with some of my chef friends like Mugaritz legend Andoni Aduriz (he took this selfie of us with his phone!) and one of the nicest chefs on earth, Mirazur’s Mauro Colagreco, who celebrated my birthday with me in Manila just last November!, Nerua’s Josean Alija... and meet new ones like Azurmendi’s Eneko Atxa and… Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm! I was a little nervous and intimidated at first but he was the nicest guy! It’s amazing how some of the most successful chefs in the world are also some of the nicest.

Andoni Aduriz- Cheryl Tiu
Who would’ve thought that Mugaritz’s Andoni Aduriz was the selfie master?!
Cheryl Tiu- Mauro Colagreco
Maurooooo! Mauro Colagreco is really one of the sweetest, nicest chefs I’ve ever met. So good to reunite again. He cooked in the Philippines last November 2015 at Tasting Room with chef William Mahi.
Josean Alija, Cheryl Tiu, John Mason Florence- Madrid Fusion 2016
Also really nice.. Nerua’s Josean Alija with myself and John Mason Florence, publisher/ editor in Thailand, and also chairman for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
Kathy Moran and I with Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi
Kathy Moran and I with Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi
Waah, what an honor to meet and chat with Daniel Humm! First thing he said to me was that I sounded like an American.. and he also asked if I taveled alot to attend events like these alot. Super nice.
Waah, what an honor to have met and chatted with Daniel Humm! First thing he said to me was that I sounded like an American.. and he also asked if I taveled alot to attend events like these alot. Super nice.
Philippine Delegation- Madrid Fusion 2016
The Philippine delegation, led by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Aurum, in front of the Philippine booth at Madrd Fusion Spain. See you all in Manila in April!!!

*My original article came out in my Philippine Star column; more on the April issue of Lifestyle Asia.