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"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 of José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019

"Trust me everyone, I have traveled with this man, if Gerry Dawes tells you to eat somewhere it's like Bourdain, believe it!!" - - Chef Mark Kiffin, The Compound Restaurant, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Spain wouldn’t be as known to Americans without the stories Gerry tells and writes.” - - Superstar Catalan Chef Ferran Adrià, elBulli

"But, for Gerry, Spain is more than just the Adriàs and (Juan Mari and Elena) Arzaks. He has connected with all manner of people working at every level and in every corner of Spain. I’m always amazed at this reach. You can step into a restaurant in the smallest town in Spain, and it turns out they know Gerry somehow. I remember one rainy night in Madrid during the 2003 Madrid Fusión congress. I wanted to go to my favorite place for patatas bravas, the ultimate tapa. But Gerry had another place in mind, and I didn’t know about it. But Gerry is always right. The potatoes at his place were amazing.” - - 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

"Gerry Dawes loves Spain, and he loves Spanish wines. And the man knows whereof he speaks. The country bestowed upon him its prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomia (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003, and here’s what James A. Michener said about him in Iberia: SpanishTravels and Reflections: “In his nearly thirty years of wandering the back roads of Spain, Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia … His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth … ” I first reached out to Dawes when I was planning a culinary journey to Barcelona, Rioja, and the Basque region of Spain, in 2011. I found his website and began reading, and have been learning from him ever since. Then, when I was preparing to stage at Arzak, in 2012, Dawes offered me some sound advice: learn Basque. He is opinionated – “You must decide whether you love wine or carpentry. If you want wood in your wine, suck on a toothpick as you drink your vino.” – he lives life with passion, and he respects wine and the men and woman who make it. Here’s to Gerry!" - - The Original Drinker: Spanish Wine Master Loves a $15.99 Rosado, Hates Wood and Always Avoids Wine Bars, James Brock, Paper City, papercitymag.com


Food Arts Silver Spoon Award to Gerry Dawes


 Premio Nacional de Gastronomía - - James Beard Foundation Nomination (Best Wine Writing)
Premio Periodistíco Cava

Gerry Dawes's Article Medieval Riches of El Cid's City (About Burgos, Spain)
Front Page, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section

 About Blog Author Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award)


Gerry Dawes at Marisquería Rafa in Madrid.
Photo by John Sconzo, Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life 


Custom-designed Wine, Food, Cultural and Photographic Tours of Spain Organized and Led by Gerry Dawes and Spanish Itinerary Planning

7 Days, 7 Nights: Beyond Paella, A Video Culinary, Wine & Travel Adventure in Valencia & Alicante with Gerry Dawes & Special Guests


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2/01/2007

Madrid Fusión 2007: A Watershed Moment in Spanish Modern Cuisine History

By Gerry Dawes

Madrid, Spain

January’s eagerly awaited, annual, star-studded culinary conference, Madrid Fusión 2007, may turn out to be a watershed moment in the history of modern Spanish cuisine. The theme of this year’s star-studded conference was La Materia Prima Base de la Creatividad (Product: The Base of Creativity) and it perhaps inadvertently brought into high relief the sea change that I have been seeing and hearing all over the country during more than 20 trips in the past three years, a tidal swing that has grown exponentially over the past year especially. The fifth annual edition of Madrid Fusión, a conference whose focus has been overwhelmingly about innovation and technique, turned out to be something of a tug-a-war dynamic between the two modern Spanish culinary movements, both of which utilize some elements of the other, but whose result is often clearly different.

Cocina de vanguardia, a style whose most famous proponent is super-star chef Ferran Adrià and whose global face has been characterized by such innovations as flavored foams, mango and olive oil caviar, titantium-laced wafers, eggs with a gold leaf veil, perfume-flavored ice creams, etc. is currently being challenged by a more restrained modern Spanish cuisine style that features Spanish product-driven, regional tradition-derived dishes that are not as perplexing to the restaurant goers and are not just user-friendly, they often more delicious and comprehensible as well. In places such as Valencia and Alicante, where some remarkable cooking is going on, this emerging direction, which has been coming of age over the past several years, is beginning to draw serious national and international attention. Call it cocina moderna neo-tradicional for lack of a formal term.

Ferran Adrià, the ultra-famous Catalan culinary star, did his annual “Ferran show” that featured a nine-point manifesto entitled Culinary Relections on the Product (Before Cooking) and including such points as the source, in-depth knowledge, proximity, ecological impact, price, etc. of the ingredients used in cooking. American chef Dan Barber (Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York), who eschews scientific pyrotechnics in his kitchen, presented an elaborate, thoughtful talk describing the great lengths he goes to in developing better agricultural techniques on Blue Hill’s own farm in order to insure the highest quality organically grown, sustainable products for his kitchen. Star Spanish chefs Juan Mari Arzak, Dani Garcia (Calima, Marbella), Quique Dacosta (El Poblet, Denia-Alicante) and London chef Heston Blumenthal all kept the vanguardista flag flying, while Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago), Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya’s, Sydney) and Grant Achatz (Alinea, Chicago) put their unique twists on the theme. But, the headline grabber was three-star chef Santi Santamaria (Raco de Can Fabes in Sant Celoni, outside Barcelona), who appeared for the first time at Madrid Fusión (he disdains culinary conferences) and dropped a culinary mega-bomb, basically denouncing vanguardista cuisine and drawing a five-minute standing ovation.

Somewhere between Santamaria’s somewhat extreme diatribe and the 3-D glasses and candy aromas that were part of Heston Blumenthal’s presentation lies a common ground where Spanish (and global) modern cuisine is heading. Technology, science and equipment will still figure in the evolution of food in Spain, they will just not define and characterize Spanish modern cuisine as they have during the past decade especially, when many dishes often seemed to be the product of high-tech culinary laboratory experiments, rather than focused on getting the best possible food on the plate, something Spanish chefs are particularly gifted at doing.
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