Gastronomy without dribbling


«Limit yourself to speak about the food», snapped a chef, whose name I’d rather refrain from providing, to the journalist Veronica Ocvirk when she was interviewing him. The answer berated her professional respectability. She confided in me, hurt by the disagreement and mostly stunned mostly from the limited level of culture displayed by the aforementioned master of the stoves.

«To me the traditional gastronomic journalism bores me» Vero confessed to me. «I swear I fall asleep just having to think about writing an Ode to Palm Heart. What I enjoy is the social aspect of gastronomy, and my dream, one of them at least, is to between us  all think of how we can make high cuisine reach even more people, not less».

Perhaps I shouldn’t have confused a kitchen helper as a chef. Because if the person in question refused to comment on any other melody except that of his pans, I have no doubt that his culinary category is that of a kitchen helper, with all due respect to all kitchen workers. Someone could bring up that I myself once said that a soccer player cannot be asked for a skilled interview, where he should prove his abilities is by skillfully dribbling on the field, with his shoes not with his tongue or pen. But nowadays an elite chef is an artist, and as such, he should respond to the intelligentsia of his art.

Hence, it hasn’t been well understood why a culinary genius such as Ferran Adrià was a guest of honor at the Documenta in Kassel, which is a non plus ultra for the artistic avant-garde. What is a kitchen helper doing in the Parnassus of the musicians, painters and poets? Exactly that, being above it all, thinking, devising, imagining and, more importantly, creating. The act of creation never arrives without luggage. Keeping the pace, carrying the baton, requires many hours of sacrifice and a hint of transforming tension, for which knowledge is needed.

Yes, my friend Ocvirk, him who in his kitchen and only speaks of food is a simple kitchen helper. That is why the height of a chef isn’t measured just in front of the fire, but starting from the fierce flames of inner reflection until achieving a formula, creating a concept. This is why the Adrià, Juan Mari Arzak and Andoni Luis Aduriz workshops resemble the laboratories of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Superior Council of Scientific Research) in Spain. Therefore when they switch on the Pacojet, they do magic with liquid nitrogen or they undergo observation of cultivating purely herbs; their speech invites us to reason about senses, wishes, habits, hope, love… 

I guess that this is the reason why, among artists in the kitchen and artists that always create food with love, there is a legion of kitchen helpers that discretely opt for dribbling and ball talk.

Fernando Gallardo |

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