Clay Potatoes and Olive Pit Fuel

Clay Potatoes and Olive Pit Fuel

By Aïda Mollenkamp

Consider it a year’s worth of culinary trend-spotting over the course of a week. There was mullet liver, there was smoke, there was olive pit fuel: The Madrid Fusión food conference, now in its sixth year, delivered on all the mad-scientist chef expectations. It also emphasized camaraderie and artistic freedom; that chefs need to support and understand, rather than critique, one another (possibly in reaction to last year’s outburst from Santi Santamaria).

Like the 2007 conference, I was there to meet, greet, explore, and marvel at the latest techniques and technologies. The chefs, meanwhile, see Fusión as a time to get out of the kitchen, contrast and compare, and offer encouragement. Above all, the emphasis this year was on each chef striving to make his or her food a reflection of personality and experience, because without that, food lacks passion and meaning. Throughout the love-fest (and eating-fest), I found some things I can’t wait to see more of, some I’m happy to still see around, and others I’d be happy to never see again. Here’s the rundown.

On the rise »
Edible clay, honey bubbles,
and smoke

Keep it »
The Scandinavians, the women,
and the dust

Kill it »
Boring tableware, premeasured
salt, and Emeril

Photographs by John Sconzo