The open day and pizza fest kick off the 16th San Sebastián Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country

Hundreds of locals in San Sebastián have enjoyed the street food on offer as a teaser for the professional conference that starts Monday, and which features Italy as this year’s guest country.

San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country has kicked off today with a distinctive Italian flavour and accent. The chefs Enzo Coccia (owner of the only pizza restaurant in the world to be awarded a Michelin star), Raimondo Cinque (Pizzeria a Metro) and Enzo Piccirillo, the guru of fried pizza, have brought their wood-fired ovens over from Naples and have set them up outside the Kursaal Conference Centre in order to offer authentic Neapolitan pizzas in San Sebastián. In little over two hours, the pizzaiolos served over 600 portions of the best pizzas in the world, cooked live with ingredients, dough and wood-fired ovens brought directly from Italy. During this first day of the event, more than one thousand portions are expected to be sold in the street food stands, which will remain open until Wednesday from 11am to 8pm.

Inside the Kursaal Conference Centre, Enzo Coccia showed his audience how to prepare authentic pizza dough, stating that this dish should cease to be considered fast food. Cinque made a Margarita with Italian ingredients (tomato, basil, mozzarella, Parmiggiano and oil) and Cristiano Piccirillo (son of the famous pizza chef) explained the secrets of fried pizza. The Italian maestros resident in Spain, Max and Stefano Colombo (Xemei), prepared a quick pasta dish with eggs from the north, flour from the south (Caputo) and anchovies, and Andrea Tumbarello (Don Gionvanni) cooked three types of carbonara: a traditional one, one with wild mushrooms and truffle, and another with red prawns and botargo.

These events marked the start of the 16th San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country conference, an international benchmark for haute cuisine which features Italy this year as its country of honour. Top chefs from all over this Mediterranean country will come together with their counterparts from both the Basque Country and the rest of Spain at the Kursaal Conference Centre, in an event that has become an absolute must not only for professionals working in the gourmet industry, but for all lovers of fine dining. This year’s event is proving more popular than ever, with a 5% increase in pre-registered participants and a notable increase in foreign delegates (+67%).

After the open day today, from tomorrow onwards until the 8th registered professionals will be able to enjoy first-hand the expertise and deftness of chefs such as Massimiliano Alajmo, Massimo Bottura, Niko Romito, Carlo Cracco, Gennaro Esposito, Davide Scabin and Andrea Berton, who together hold 30 Michelin stars. Furthermore, the event also features some of the best Basque chefs, such as Juan Mari Arzak, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Martín Berasategui, Hilario Arbelaitz and Pedro Subijana (all members of the Technical Committee), as well as Eneko Atxa and Josean Alija. And from slightly further afield we have some of the brightest stars of Spanish cuisine, including  Joan Roca, Carme Ruscalleda, Quique Dacosta, Francis Paniego, Paco Pérez, Ramon Freixa, Marcos Morán, Dani García and Ángel León.

From tomorrow onwards, the presentations will begin in the auditorium of the Kursaal Conference Centre, alongside exclusive workshops for small groups given by Quique Dacosta, Dani García, Marcos Morán, Ricard Camarena, Virgilio Martínez, Elena Arzak, Pedro Subijana, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Alberto Manassei.

Tomorrow, at the Gastronomika

The Italian chefs Massimo Bottura and Carlo Cracco are the main dishes of tomorrow’s menu. At 13.15h, the official opening ceremony will be held, in which attendants will pay tribute to Pedro Arrregui, the creator of Elkano, who passed away this year.  The ceremony will also feature the unveiling of the spectacular cake made by the Catalonian patissier Cristian Escribá to celebrate the conference’s 16th anniversary.

At 13.45h, Juan Mari and Elena Arzak will close the morning session.  In the afternoon, Carme Ruscalleda, Dani García and Andoni Luis Aduriz will present their latest creations in the auditorium, and Quique Dacosta will give a private lesson to a small group of participants (Cocina Privada – Private Kitchen).

Tomorrow also sees the start of the OFF section, in which wine is the main focus (Wine Sessions). Throughout the day, experts such as Walter Speller, Josep Roca, Luca Maroni and Jane Hunt will direct guided tasting sessions, while at 18.30h the final of the Wine & Win competition will be held.

The Gastronomika Market, a trade fair featuring over 100 top brands, also opens its doors tomorrow, with tasting and sampling sessions with some of the world’s best and most exclusive products.

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