@MadridFusionManila 2017: A Gastronomical Roadmap to Sustainability! (Photo Essay Recap)

by Kristine Terrible

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This year’s Madrid Fusion Manila revolved around the theme “Towards a Sustainable Gastronomic Planet”.

During the International Food Congress, twenty-four of the best chefs in the world–most of them with at least one Michelin star under their belts, and all of them with multiple awards–discussed how they practice sustainability in their kitchens and businesses every day.


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Given an hour each including a few minutes where they answered questions from the audience, they also demonstrated a few of their dishes that best showcased the theme.

Madrid Fusion 2017 Series:
• 10 Most Awesome Heirloom Rice Creations! @MadridFusionManila (Day 1) 
• 10 Most Awesome “Nose-to-Tail” Creations! @MadridFusionManila (Day 2)
• 5 Most Awesome Corn Creations! @MadridFusionManila (Day 3)


Here’s the recap of the three-day International Gastronomy Congress at Madrid Fusion Manila

1. Source Local, Eat Seasonal

The message that all the chefs agreed on was also the simplest: source ingredients locally and follow the seasons.


From Sweden to Spain, and from Manila to Bali, the move to source local ingredients seems to be picking up.

This not only ensures the freshest and best quality ingredients, it also has the added benefit of being cost efficient


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Chef Josean Alija of Nerua in Spain gets all his ingredients from within a 15km radius.


A master of “pure and natural” (as opposed to minimalist) cuisine, this chef becomes all the more impressive when you find out that he lost most of his sense of taste and smell in a life-threatening accident. 


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Both Chef Sally Camacho Mueller from Top Chef Just Desserts and Chef Robby Goco of Cyma said the same thing: know where your ingredients come from.


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This means knowing the story of the farmers and producers of your ingredients and forming a relationship with them.



Knowing everyone involved in the chain and finding out how they grow their produce and livestock goes a long way towards these chefs ending up with the best products in their kitchen.


2. Restaurants with their Own Farm

A few chefs took the concept of sourcing local one step further. Gert de Mangeleer of Hertog Jan in Belgium as well as Simon Rogan of L’Enclume in England, with three and two Michelin stars respectively, source what they use in their kitchens from their own farms.

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One striking example of how Gert de Mangeleer practices sustainability is his daily salad called “A Walk Through The Gardens”. This salad consists of items in his farm that are ready to eat when he walks through it in the morning, so it changes every day.



This highlights a belief of letting things be and letting nature dictate what is available. What is interesting is that he took this concept around the world, including the Philippines, letting the salad evolve with the seasons and the available produce, wherever in the world he was.


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In a presentation that strongly advocated against the overproduction of meat and produce, Simon Rogan with his sous chef Dan Cox called for the reduction of meat consumption.

Speaking out against the negative health implications of the high demand for cheap food that maximized profit, they demonstrated that this mass production of food is also a danger to the resources of the planet. 



They find this unnatural and believe that chefs today have the opportunity to turn the tide.

To tie it all up and show how there is no need for such a surplus, they presented a dish where the vegetable was the star of the dish, and meat played a small yet still important role. 


3. Seed to Table Movement

Another chef who has embraced the seed to table movement is Rodrigo de la Calle of El Invernardo

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An expert at molecular gastronomy who calls his cuisine “gastrobotanical”, he not only grows his own ingredients but also does extensive research and experimentation on them. 



For example, he created a dish that used kombucha to pickle vegetables. One of the things he is trying to accomplish through research is to grow vegetables that taste like they used to because their taste has changed over time. 


4. Availability beyond Seasonability


While choosing seasonal and local ingredients has its benefits, the downside is that the ingredients you want may not be available year round, so chefs have to get creative about extending the lifespan of their produce. This is where preservation methods such as pickling and curing come in.


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Chefs Josh Boutwood of The Test Kitchen and Magnus Ek of Oaxen both demonstrated how using the right techniques could bring out extra dimensions in the flavor of fresh produce, transforming them into different ingredients entirely.


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It could seem that going local would limit the possibilities for these chefs, but the opposite is true. Instead of being constricted, these chefs have stepped up their creativity and are putting out world-class dishes and are being awarded Michelin stars for their work.



The move to source local has encouraged incredible diversity around the world, which was showcased in the cooking demonstrations during the congress.


5. Nose to Tail, Stem to Stern

Using the entire animal or the entire fruit or vegetable is also an example of sustainable practice, and several chefs demonstrated how they implement this in their kitchens.

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At Le Servan in Paris, young chefs and sisters Tatiana and Katia Levha practice sustainability by creating the least possible food waste in their kitchen. They cook with Filipino flavors using French techniques and ingredients.


After cooking their own version of Pork Belly Adobo with jus viande and greens…


…they demonstrated how one could use the vegetable scraps to make stock, and the scraps of meat for wonton, creating a whole new dish.


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In another example of nose-to-tail cooking, Julien Royer of Odette butchered a pigeon on-stage and proceeded to use the entire bird in different components of his dish. An advocate of ingredient-centric cooking, he believes that good produce, producers, and people are what makes a good restaurant.

This presents a challenge for him in the very urban setting of Singapore, where agricultural land is limited, resulting in a lot of ingredients needing to be imported.


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Vicky Lau of the Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong is even going beyond nose-to-tail. Aside from making sure their food waste is repurposed into something useful, they are making green and sustainable choices in the fine dining restaurant scene.



For instance, the restaurant uses strongly filtered water instead of bottled, and leather tablecloths instead of linens, which need to be bleached. In the kitchen, Vicky Lau’s team makes sure that scraps never go to waste–whether they are used for table decorations or as compost, everything is given purpose.


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Recognizing that nature is not a factory that creates uniform produce, Josh Boutwood makes it a point to buy produce that most other hotels and restaurants would reject. These are simply produce that don’t meet certain aesthetic standards, but are otherwise in perfectly good condition.

In The Test Kitchen, he transforms these “ugly” produce and uses them in highly creative dishes that allow them to shine.



Maximizing the potential of any ingredient is key here. There’s really no limit to the creativity that these chefs can exercise when they do. Whether they create one or multiple dishes with these ingredients, they are making sure that nothing goes to waste.

In the future, it’s easy to see this practice making its way into communities and homes–feeding more people, with less.


6. Sustainability in the Community

Sourcing local and insisting on natural and organic produce has a huge, positive impact on the local community. It provides producers with income that would otherwise go to large-scale farms where overproduction is a practice and the use of harmful chemicals is the norm.

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Chef Jordy Navarra of Toyo Restaurant emphasized the value in small, sustainable operations that thrive in the community. He explained how sourcing from these artisan producers also benefits them in the long run.

Not only does it help to preserve traditional cooking techniques, it enables these producers to further improve their craft and earn a better living as well.



Impressed by the mastery of fishermen in Batanes, Navarra flew in a fisherman who demonstrated breaking down a large dorado and preparing it for drying using traditional techniques.


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Success and caring for the community can go hand in hand, as demonstrated by two chefs from BoliviaKamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari of Gustu. They work with Claude Meyer of Noma in Copenhagen to bring fine dining to Bolivia.



Gustu goes beyond fine dining, however, as it also serves as a training facility for underprivileged young chefs, who in turn are able to find better jobs as a result of their experience in the restaurant.


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In Bali, chefs Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer of Locavore Ubud work with local craftsmen in their restaurant. Known for its talented artisans, the locals of Ubud provide Locavore with everything from utensils to furniture to decor.

This cultivates an environment that encourages these craftsmen and local businesses to flourish.


7. Cultural Preservation is a move towards sustainability

Culture is the identity of a community, but unfortunately, with the advent of fast food and the Westernization of many countries in the world, many traditions are being forgotten.

Our ancestors have been working with food that grows in our respective countries for centuries, and it would be foolish to ignore anything they could teach us. 


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Tony Yoo of Michelin-starred Dooreyoo in Korea talked about Korean barbecue and the traditional way of cooking it. He showed the congress old paintings that depicted scenes of ancient Koreans cooking meat over a grill in the snow.

Apparently, the traditional way is to grill the meat for a while and then throw it into the snow until it freezes a little then back onto the grill. This is repeated again and again until the meat is cooked, and the reason behind it is to make the meat more tender because it locks in the oil and prevents the loss of moisture.


To demonstrate how he is preserving these traditional methods using modern techniques, he brought with him a small, traditional Korean barbecue grill, and used liquid nitrogen as a substitute for snow. Yoo warned against disregarding the practical wisdom that our ancestors gained from the need to eat while adapting to nature. 


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The first speaker of the congress, Chef Gene Gonzales of Cafe Ysabel, highlighted Filipino culinary heritage from the pre-colonial era to today’s overseas Filipino workers in his talk.

He outlined a roadmap to create a sustainable food culture, which included creating more gastronomic tours, removing the stereotype of our food being “bizarre,” creating a catalog of regional specialties.


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Most importantly, Chef Gonzales urged us to realize that the “common food” that we may think is not special might just be what both local and foreign tourists are looking to eat when they are in the Philippines.


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Chef Kiko Moya of L’Escaleta described his home in the mountains of Alicante, and how he wants his diners to experience the outside scenery in the dishes in front of them. 

He also placed a special emphasis on the importance of the stories behind the ingredients he uses and the dishes he creates.



In his presentation, he discussed four main ingredients: saffron, mustard, rice, and almond. He mentioned the importance of saffron, in particular, in traditional Spanish cuisine.

Chef Moya talked about defending traditional recipes and cooking methods from our generation’s tampering. 


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Chef Pedro Subijana of Akelare in Spain was one of the pioneers of the New Basque Cuisine revolution in the 70s.

It is a movement that started out by paying homage to traditional recipes by seeking to modernize them, and eventually became something innovative on its own, transforming traditional flavors and recipes into fresh new dishes.



Today, he is one of the directors of the Basque Culinary Center, which trains chefs in various areas besides cooking, such as business and science. This creates an environment where culinary innovation can thrive through research and experimentation.


8. Sustainability is not a trend

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Chef Julien Moyer of Odette in Singapore said that being sustainable is not just a trend–it’s the natural way to function. He made the point that people simply need to balance the way they eat and be reasonable in their diet. It actually makes perfect sense.

When you source local and seasonal ingredients, you are receiving the best and freshest produce, which has great implications for health. 


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Chef Jordi Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, a restaurant that is constantly at the top of the list of the world’s best restaurants and has been awarded three Michelin stars, did not let a problem with his throat or an earthquake keep him from presenting.



Chef Roca and his wife, Alejandra Rivas who runs the ice cream parlor Rocambolesc, told incredible tales of dessert made with so much creativity–such as edible paper made with the essence of one of Pablo Neruda’s poems, which inspired the dish. 




Sustainability in the context of the culinary world is to produce quality cuisine, using the freshest and healthiest ingredients that support the community, where chefs are the medium through which this is realized.

It means a win-win situation where diners can consume delicious and healthy food, chefs earn a living through their craft and are able to express their creativity, and producers are supported and are able to thrive and improve their techniques. 


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It’s easy to think of chefs–or the world’s best chefs for that matter–only as individuals concerned with producing good food. However, when you really start to define what “good food” means, and realize that food is something everyone in the world is concerned with, the importance of chefs becomes clearer.

Chefs are really about more than putting food on the table–they are ambassadors of culture who can create opportunities for steering the planet into a sustainable future.

It was an incredible privilege to sit in front of these award-winning chefs who not only produce amazing food but also make the world a better place in their own, not-so-little ways, demonstrating that making a positive impact on the planet and on the community can also lead to success.


Madrid Fusion 2017 Series:
• 10 Most Awesome Heirloom Rice Creations! @MadridFusionManila (Day 1) 
• 10 Most Awesome “Nose-to-Tail” Creations! @MadridFusionManila (Day 2)
• 5 Most Awesome Corn Creations! @MadridFusionManila (Day 3)


Live an Awesome Life,



Disclosure: Our Awesome Planet is a media partner of Madrid Fusion Manila. We wrote this article with our biases, opinions, and insights.  

P.S. Congratulations to the Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, Foro de Debate, and Madrid Fusion Manila Organizers for a successful Madrid Fusion Manila 2017!  See you for the 4th edition of Madrid Fusion Manila in 2018! 🙂 

Madrid Fusion Manila Highlights Day 1-3

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