Reporting live from one of the world’s most important culinary conferences in San Sebastián is a tough job. In the city with the most Michelin-stars per capita, there is a concentration of culinary talent that is impressive even without inviting the rest of the world’s kitchen elite. Let’s just say if a bomb were to drop in this coastal Basque town the second week in October, the world’s food critics would be facing starvation.
WHAT IS SSG?: An annual culinary conference held in San Sebastián. An assembly of the highest caliber.
WHO IS SSG?: France and its cuisine took the spotlight this year at the conference, a curious choice considering that many regard France as diminishing in its culinary influence. The rationale? It’s “the cuisine that we all carry inside of us, the cuisine that made us believe and grow,” according to the SSG committee. Aside from French culinary superstars, you can find the heavy hitters on the Spanish culinary scene, such as the Roca brothers, Arzak, some Adria, Aduriz, and many other future superstars.
WHAT GOES ON AT SSG?: Tastings, conferences, tertulias, networking; basically a lot of trading of ideas within the industry. Below, find what is truly the soul of the conference: the flavors that each chef brings to the table. Every year I’ve made this list, and it’s been the most interesting thing I’ve taken away.
Tasting Notes. The Important Stuff:
Tomato Fried in Sardine Fat | Fernando del Cerro, Spain
Coconut, Herb Charcoal, Tapioca Sorbet, Sugar Rocks, Squash | Alex Atala, Brazil
Oyster, Melon Juice, Cucumber, Lime Granita, Fermented Garlic Puré and Soy Sauce Spheres| Joan Roca, Spain
Green Asparagus Mille Fuille, White Asparagus, Parsley Foam and Parsley Pesto | Martín Berasategui, Spain
Roast Duck, Mushroom, Sorrel, Roasted Apple, Raspberry | Pierre Gagnaire, France
Rosemary-Smoked Spider Crab, Confit Tomato, Green Tea | Álvaro Garrido, Spain
Barnacles, Strawberry, Garlic, Smoked Tuna, Gazpacho, Sheep’s Cheese | Xabier Diez + Aizpea Oihaneder, Spain
Black truffle, pasta, celery, veal stock | Jean Louis Nomicos, France
Cassis, wild herbs, beets, walnuts | Jean Sulpice, France