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Jose Andres and the Spanish vanguard cuisine movement

Jose Andres speaking about Minibar's "New England Clam Chowder"

Jose Andres speaking about Minibar's "New England Clam Chowder"

On Tuesday, April 7, 2009 , I went to the National Museum of American History to see José Andrés and Wylie Dufresne have a dialogue about what influence their mentor Master Chef, Ferran Adrià has had on their cooking and to the movement that they call, “Vanguard cuisine” in DC and abroad. This event was the first of a series sponsored by the Embassy of Spain called “Preview Spain: Arts & Culture ‘ 09” which was created to bring awareness among the DC public about contemporary cultural trends from Spain.
I went just to get a glimpse of José Andrés, who is the driving force behind the restaurant empire, “Think Food Group”including DC restaurants, Zaytinya, Oyamel, Jaleo, Café Atlántico, and of course, the flagship of José Andrés’ avant-guard cuisine, Minibar. I have had the honor to dine in all of José Andrés’ restaurants, including Minibar, which had several photographs featured during the discussion.

I learned about chef Wylie Dufresne today, who is the chef and owner of wd~50 restaurant in Manhattan, New York. Opened in April 2003, this 70-seat restaurant with a state of the art kitchen, was named after his initials and the street address.

Wylie and Jose
Wylie and Jose

Like Andres, Dufresne is also a disciple of Catalan chef Adrià and a leading American proponent of molecular gastronomy, the movement to introduce new techniques and sciences in the preparation and delivery of food.
The discussion was moderated by food writer, Colman Andrews. Andrews co-founded Saveur magazine and later became a restaurant columnist for Gourmet. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Spanish cuisine, particularly that of the Catalonia region.
Apparently Chef Adrià focused on taking any ingredient and doing something new and different with it – something that had never been done before.
Wylie said that to him what was the most remarkable about Chef Adrià’s teachings is “how someone has taken the dining blue print and smashed it – in the most beautiful way.” He was referring to how this movement has brought about an amazing change to the traditional three course meal that we’ve become accustomed to – a “destruction of the proper meal”.

Jose Andres before the dialogue began

Jose Andres before the dialogue began

The main take-away from their discussion for me was that José Andrés believes that food is like art. He said that it is similar to looking at Matisse painting, or a beautiful piece of artwork; however, food is to feed our souls. He also said that food is like a language and we need to speak the same language in order to communicate.


One Response

  1. […] award and to David Chang’s Momofuku Ko, also in New York, for Best New Restaurant honors. Chef Andrés, who won Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2003, has been nominated many times before, including a Rising […]

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