Monday, 24 March 2008

Viva Alimentaria

One of the great ironies about working in a professional kitchen is that, when the Big Show comes to town, you don't get a chance to get out there and pay a visit. And shows don't come much bigger in the hospitality industry than Alimentaria - the most important annual food exhibition in Iberia and one of the world's leading hospitality industry shows.

Alimentaria '08 in BarcelonaHeld in Lisbon last year, this time it was the turn of Barcelona to host Alimentaria. With 4,300 food and drink exhibitors and 152,000 professional buyers and general visitors including some 50,000 from outside Spain, you'd have had to be on a serious diet last week not to have noticed that Alimentaria '08 was in town. And while everyone else had fun, we had all the stress with a full dining room twice a day all week at Comerç 24. Such is life!

Estimated to have generated some 167m euros worth of business, the massive event was segmented into 13 different halls, each with its own dedicated show: Congelexpo frozen products, Expobebidas soft drinks and beers, Expoconser fish and vegetable preserves, Intercarn meat & allied products, Interlact: milk & dairy products, Olivaria: olive oil, Interpesca seafood & farmed fish products, Intervin wines & spirits, Multiproducto general food products, Mundidulce biscuits & confectionery, Restaurama hospitality products and services, Vegefruit fresh fruit & vegetables and Ecological & Organic Food a show looking to the future and reflecting the industry's responses to increasingly ecologically concerned consumers. In addition, the Pavilion of the Autonomies displayed the produce of the 17 Spanish autonomous communities and the International Pavilion displayed the produce of foreign companies. Between the main site at the Gran Via Exhibition Centre and the Montjuic Exhibition Centre, a total exhibition area of 122,000sqm, equivalent to 30 football pitches!

Although I couldn't attend in person myself, I've had a good look around the reports of both exhibitors and visitors, including several food bloggers luckier than me. As a result, I've been able to put together a Flickr display to give you some idea what this year's show was like.

I hope you managed to spot several of Iberia's leading chefs including Ferran Adrià, Martín Berasategui, Joan Roca, Quique Dacosta and Juan Mari Arzak - along with Corey Lee of The French Laundry.

I've also found a video clip on YouTube of the Grand Final of the Chef of the Year 2008, a competition to find Spain's best up and coming young chef, which took place during the Alimentaria '08 exhibition (see right).

Photos courtesy of Barbara at vonblum, Núria at Spanish Recipes and sources including La Loca Cocina, Fresh Plaza, Gastronomía & Cía, Almada Cafe, Chefuri blog, Directo al Paladar, Agrelma, Picturesnews, Bloc-O, Serra & Silva, Spanish Recipes, La Cocina de Auro, Gotuj się!, Cuenca News, Juan Marblaz, Cristina Mutiu and Rafael Lacb. Video courtesy of VelSid.

Maybe I'll get a chance to attend next year, when Alimentaria is due back in Lisbon.

Postscript: It took me a few days to put this report together and only after I posted it this morning did I read the announcements about the winner of the Chef Of The Year competition. Many thanks to Galicia Gastrónomica, Grupo Adolfo, El Aderezo, Paparevivir and Gastronomía & Cía for the additional information and pictures.

Beatriz Sotelo of Restaurante A Estación
First place went to the only female finalist in the field of eight young Spanish chefs: 26-year-old Beatriz Sotelo, co-proprietor of Restaurante A Estación in Cambre, A Coruña. Although the iconic Mey Hoffman was on the judging panel along with other leading chefs including Martín Berasategui, Jordi Cruz and Rafa Morales, Spain (like Britain) still lags behind many other countries in terms of women breaking into the upper echelons of hospitality. And as a gallega (from Galicia), Beatriz Sotelo is not exactly from the most gastronomically fashionable end of the country either. So it was a fantastic result for the winner, for Galicia and for Spanish cooking as a whole. The competitors were given five hours to prepare a three course meal for no more than €13. Beatriz's winning menu, rooted firmly in Galician provincial cooking, comprised a cannelloni of pheasant with seasonal mushrooms, roasting juices & truffle to start, Celeiro hake with green peppers and lemon pil-pil to follow and an almond, apple and grape dessert.


Núria said...

Hola, busy Aidan!!! He, he, loved the slide show presentation... too bad you could not be there :(, but next year you should!!!

I could invent an excuse... remember I could only see the Alchemist post? Please don't laugh at me... the link I had in my blog was to that special post and since I always go to your place from there... I'm blushing... Well, nobody is perfect ;-)
I'm changing it right now! Have fun on El dia de la MOna!!!!

Ledo said...

Hi Aidan,

Just to let you know, your restaurant is in this month's issue of Saveurs (French food magazine), recommended with two other restaurants to eat in, when visiting Barcelona.

Trig said...

Thank you for that Maria - I'll tell my fellow chefs later today. Now you know where to come if you are in town! Do you know which were the other two recommended restaurants?

Ledo said...

Hi Aidan,

I have just looked up the other restaurants recommended for "lunch" and they were Els Fogons de la Barceloneta and Luçanès, however your restaurant has the best write-up.

I didn't see they were restaurants recommended for lunch and others for dinner, sorry.

For dinner, two restaurants are recommended, the first is Alkimia which has their "coup de coeur" and the other one is Moo.

We'll be coming to eat and visit Barcelona this spring.



Trig said...

Ledo, your timing is amazing. I'm only logged on for short periods each day and you comment twice while I'm online!

I can tell you a bit about the restaurants you have named. Ángel Pascual won his first Michelin star at Lluçanès I think at the same time we did, but I haven't had a chance to eat there yet. Els Fogons in Barcelonetta, near where I live, looks fairly down-market and I'm not sure if it is related to the famous one in Girona but I suspect not. Moo is very formal - it's in the smart part of town (Passeig de Gràcia) in a large hotel. And this link takes you to my post on Alkimia.

I hope we'll see you at C24 - just email me in advance and I'll get you a good table. Must run now - time for work.


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