Monday, January 30

Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España: “The only thing I can do in front of diners, in an exercise of honesty, is to be myself”

Quique Dacosta during his speech. / Nacho Gomez | VIDEO: Jorge Sanchez

Quique Dacosta investigates how much beauty a dish can have, while cooking dishes from the pasture

There is a philosophical investigation underway in the house of Quique Dacosta, which goes beyond the dishes, for which this chef investigates the thoughts of artists, musicians and theorists. The premise is based on the possibility, or not, of being able to cook beauty. And that leads to another path: is there art in the kitchen? Can a dish be considered beautiful? “There are two starting points,” explains Dacosta in Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España, while he cooks various dishes where he wants to reflect the verification of his thesis. «The first thing that comes is the aesthetics. I assume. Like animated forests, landscapes have the concept of provoking, suggesting, transmitting. Like the trompe l’oeil we do, when we create a white truffle with cheese. But for me, before the aesthetics is the taste, the technique to transform the food that is the second starting point. Having the knowledge, which is always inherited, to create a new dish.”

In his investigation he resorts to the wisdom of creators such as Juan Genovés, who debate in a documentary about the cuisine of the three Michelin star Quique, where personalities such as Vicente Todolí, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto, Guillermo Solana also participate: «I would change the word art for game . And we have a game, which is to refine the senses, “says Genovés. A variation that has its importance in the cook’s arguments. “Can a flavor be beautiful?” Dacosta asks while his chef Guillermo makes a seasonal mushroom broth “with a perspective and gaze of a certain beauty.” “The word art slips when we talk about beauty,” continues the chef. “But all we want is to cook.” Among the reflections, that of Luis Feito on gastronomy: «it is a minor art. No matter how well done a dish is, it will never be ‘Las Meninas’”.

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With the vision of a hot plate of truffles with Iberian pork juice and caramelized jowls, Dacosta advances in his meditation aloud: “We must continue doing our job, but we express ourselves beyond transforming food.” On this occasion, he permeates the stage with the aromas of dishes from the pasture, in which the “epicenter and creative starting point is always the product”, such as the Mediterranean stew with barnacles, with rock fish and potatoes.

Determined to explore the confines not only of gastronomy but also of art and the concept of beauty and ugliness, Dacosta has not yet concluded with “reflections that lead us to think that this is not about cooking beautifully. But it does not set entry limits. I ask for the freedom to cook and build my own story. With this perspective I look for opinions ».

The next dish is turbot in sherry, whose bones and heads are used for an emulsion. Something is clear, however: «I owe myself to the diner, who uses sight first, then smell and then taste. It is the logic of approaching the plate. But given the probability of the type of client and his tastes, the only thing I can do, in an exercise of honesty, is to be myself ».

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