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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Madrid Fusion 2006: A Personal Behind-the-Scenes View

During the past four years, Madrid Fusión, a conference held every January at the modern IFEMA exhibition center in northeast Madrid, has become the Mecca for cocina de vanguardia, cutting-edge modern cuisine chefs from around the world. Madrid Fusión has become a modern gastronomy pilgrimage destination for such super-star Spanish chefs such as world-famous Catalan, Ferran Adrià of El Bullí, Juan Mari Arzak and Martín Berasategui of San Sebastián; a stellar lineup of emerging stars such as Sergi Arola, José Andrés, Dani García and Andoni Aduriz; and international star chefs such as Tetsuya Wakudi (Australia), Nobu Matsuhisha (New York, London, Las Vegas, etc.) and Charlie Trotter (Chicago).

The three-day conference features science-and-technique orientated presentations by today’s greatest modern cuisine chefs; awards to different culinary stars each year, dinners at some of Madrid’s top restaurants and stands featuring such products as Spanish Ibérico hams, extra virgen olive oils, wines and kitchen implements such as the miracle Termomix food processor.

Madrid Fusión 2006 featured awards to invited American master chefs who had made significant lifetime contributions to the American culinary landscape. They included four American culinary giants: Santa Fe’s Mark Miller, the godfather of modern Southwestern American cuisine; Norman Van Aken, who was the innovator of South Floridian-Carribean Basin fusion cuisine; Louisiana’s Paul Prudhomme, who put Cajun-Creole cuisine on the American culinary map; and Alice Water of Chez Panisse, who is credited with giving birth to new California cuisine. A number of American food-and-wine writers including Michael and Ariane Batterberry, publishers-editors of Food Arts and Judith Miller of Alfred A. Knopf book publishers were also honored.

From ballots given to the journalists attending Madrid Fusión 2006, a selection the Ten Most Influential Chefs in the World was chosen. Adrià topped the list and was followed by Alain Ducasse, Juan Mari Arzak, Michel Bras, Pierre Gagnaire, Heston Blumenthal, Nobu Matsuhisa, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller and Tetsuya Wakuda.

The long sought-after Thomas Keller, the superstar chef of The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York, came with Jonathan Bento, his chef de cuisine at Per Se, to cook a demonstration, as did José Andrés, executive chef-partner in several Washington, D. C. restaurants, including three Jaleo Spanish cuisine spots, Zaytinya (Eastern Mediterranean), Oyamel (Mexican) and the highly acclaimed Café Átlantico, where his Ferran Adrià-style minibar has drawn wide acclaim. Andrés has also become the star of the flourishing daily television program in Spain, Vamos a Cocinar, and seems well on his way to becoming the Spanish Emeril Lagasse.

As usual, Ferran Adrià played to packed house of culinarians, many of whom hung on every word during the presentation of his 23-point “manifesto” (some in Spain call his culinary philosophy, Ferranismo), which began with “Cooking is a language through which one can express harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humor and provocation” and ended with “The knowledge and/or collaboration with experts in different fields (the culture of gastronomy, history, industrial design and science) is primordial in our evolution.”

Madrid Fusión kicked the 2006 conference at a party at the Casa de America celebrating ICEX’s superb GOURMETOUR gastronomic magazine, which celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year.
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