Jean-Pierre Gabriel | On Monday January 24th, the opening night of Madrid Fusion 2011, the most important culinary congress in the world, inspirer/foreman José Carlos was very much impressed by the Flemish cuisine. In order to endorse his enthusiasm, he invited Kristoff Coppens (A Priori), Dave De Belder (De Godevaart), Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens (Hertog Jan), food scientist Bernard Lahousse and Peter Coucquyt (Sense for Taste) over to Madrid, where they got the opportunity to show their expertise. “I discovered them last year on the culinary seminar The Flemish Primitives in Bruges. I was truly amazed by their ingenuity and was impressed even more so by their scientific approach of the cuisine, as well as by their cooperation with university teams.” To José Carlos, inviting them is more than the mere presence of four representatives of the Flemish cuisine… it is a true tribute.
Furthermore, the other well-known and major cuisines are represented here: the French, the Spanish, the Italian… But today, Flanders represents a place where something’s happening. “In the techniques these chefs are using, you evidently notice the influence of masters such as Ferran Adria. The Flemish chefs however, have given their own interpretation, and have integrated them in a style of their own. A couple of years ago, I invited René Redzepi over. At the time, no one knew who he was. Nowadays, everybody is talking about the Scandinavian cuisine. I see the same thing happening with the Flemish cuisine”, José Carlos concludes.
Kristof Coppens, the first one to come up on stage, introduces the Crycotuv, a combination of vacuum technology and quick freezing with liquid nitrogen. “In medical science, liquid nitrogen is being used to preserve sperm cells, ovule and embryos. These characteristics can also be applied on food products”, Kristoff explains. He works with the University of Louvain, and has every confidence in the future of the device. “It will greatly improve quality, e.g. for fish.”
Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens talk about the philosophy behind their restaurant Hertog Jan. They focus on the role of a dish’s progression when tasting food. “I have got two preparations, one based on tomatoes, the other one based on beetroot. The dish can vary according to what nature has to offer, according to the shape and size of the vegetables. It’s the same dish, yet different. Joachim always adjusts his (choice of) wine accordingly.
José Carlos Capel was highly impressed by Dave De Belder’s self-designed shapes, which he based on ingredients such as grey shrimps. These shapes then become the base for creations that resemble this ingredient, without however having the same taste. And last but definitely not least on stage, we didn’t get to see a Flemish chef, but the “father” of food-pairing, being food scientist Bernard Larousse. In Madrid, he portrays the base of his theory and outlines the newest developments.