For many professional chefs the mention of Spanish cuisine evokes images of modernist cooking techniques and the chef that introduced it to the world – Ferran Adrià.
But at this year’s Tapas Day the Spanish Economic and Commercial Office in South Africa made sure culinary students understood that even these modern techniques are deeply rooted in a cuisine rich in culinary tradition that boasts a vast variety of regional products.
In its’ third year, World Tapas Day is celebrated around the world to recognise the vital role that Tapas, the sharing of small plates of food, play in Spanish cuisine and culture. This year the South African celebrations, opened by Hon. Mr. Juan Sell, Ambassador of Spain to South Africa was hosted at Prue Leith Chefs Academy.
Apart from tasting delicacies like Manchego cheese and Ibérico ham whilst sipping Cava and Rioja, students were treated to a demonstration by chef Iñaki Carretero. Representing the flavours of Spain, Carretero prepared classic dishes such as Ajoblanco, Bacalau al pilpil and a citrus escabeche of baby chicken with aioli – highlighting core Spanish flavours – olive oil and garlic.
Liezl Vermeulen, deputy editor at Fresh Living magazine, also shared her experience of studying in Spain and educated students in the variety of traditional Spanish products, from its famous cured hams and cheese to olive oil, saffron and smoked paprika.