Dialogos de Cocina
Cooking has become like Hollywood or Rock music, with global stars and fans.
But unlike Hollywood and Rock music, it has also cultivated an intoxicating mix of craft, art and technology.
I spent yesterday at the Dialogos de Cocina, the gathering of Spain's top cooks who are also now the world's, including Joan Roca (2), Andoni (3), Arzak (8), and his daughter Elena Arzak, who’s now rated the world's top female chef.
The Basque Culinary Centre where it was held also boasts Adria, Rezepi and Blumenthal on its board.
This was a celebration of artisanship – the subtleties of craft now allied to the science of molecular gastromy – and also of place: a cooking culture rooted in the traditions and distinctive ideas of the Basque country that gives San Sebastian more Michelin stars per head than anywhere else on earth.
The art could be seen in the many projects the chefs are all doing - working with musicians, architects, visual artists and designers, with the Dialogos their chance to learn from everyone from instrument makers to neuroscientists.
What’s impressive – and still very different from the top end of cooking in France and Italy - is that they are unafraid to disturb and challenge their customers.
And equally, unlike traditional haute cuisine, there was a democratic spirit – reflecting family restaurants that are part of a culture that’s at home in its own skin.
I also spoke about what’s gone wrong in food – an industry parts of which do their best to make their customers unhealthy, and to deskill people, and which has been phenomenally successful at production but increasingly disastrous on every other front.