Paco Roncero: avantgarde, tradition, Spain, the world

At Identità Milano the edible lesson from the chef from Madrid who in Ibiza runs what is known as the most expensive restaurant in the world

26-09-2018

Paco Roncero at Identità Milano with his Free range rooster royale with mole poblano and corn (photos from Sonia Santagostino)

Spanish avantgarde is (was) not a trend, a passing fashion. It’s now a given fact in global cuisine. Still, we must also consider a later lesson:« this is no longer time to abuse of techniques, because clients love to taste recognisable dishes above all. They like to be surprised, but subtly, elegantly. They want flavours in foreground». So hurray for avantgarde, as long as it’s comprehensible, and has an inclusive approach with guests, «because we should always remember: avantgarde is now everywhere, in Spain and around the world. But for every restaurant of this kind there are at least one hundred serving traditional cuisine».

Roncero in the kitchen observed by our resident chef Alessandro Rinaldi

Roncero in the kitchen observed by our resident chef Alessandro Rinaldi

Paco Roncero

Paco Roncero

Paco Roncero, who pronounced these words, follows these principles with strength, «we’ve been offering avantgarde for 20 years, we’ll continue to do so ». There’s no moving back, tenacity runs in his blood: a triathlon athlete and marathoner as well as a great chef, he’s taken part in competitions that require resistance and fatigue, such as IronMan in Bilbao and Malaga and the New York marathon – multiple times. He comes from the Ferran Adrià school, though he’s never worked at elBulli, but studied the Catalan’s principles at length at Terraza del Casino in Madrid, the restaurant he led to two Michelin stars and of which Adrià was a consultant for many years, since 1998.

Roncero between Alessio Sebastiani, sous chef at Identità Milano, and Javier Alonso, jefe de cocina at Terraza del Casino in Madrid, Roncero’s two-starred restaurant 

Roncero between Alessio Sebastiani, sous chef at Identità Milano, and Javier Alonsojefe de cocina at Terraza del Casino in Madrid, Roncero’s two-starred restaurant 

Preparing mole poblano

Preparing mole poblano

Andrea Ribaldone, pastry chef Gabriele Tangari, Alessandro Rinaldi, Paco Roncero, Javier Alonso

Andrea Ribaldone, pastry chef Gabriele Tangari, Alessandro Rinaldi, Paco Roncero, Javier Alonso

Yet it’s strange that this invitation to moderation comes from the chef who conceived Sublimotion, known as "the most expensive restaurant in the world" (and therefore the most exclusive), a 350 square metres hyper-tech room in Ibiza, completely covered with screens, including tables with high tech systems that allow to create colourful atmospheres, control the surrounding temperature and humidity, and add a special selection of music. Here his 20-course menu is sold starting from 1,500 euros, closer to 2,000: the staff includes a deejay, an illusionist, a fashion designer, a music director, with prominent collaborators from the Spanish culinary universe and beyond, including Dani GarcíaDiego GuerreroDavid ChangToño PérezPaco Torreblanca.

Rinaldi with Roncero and Alonso

Rinaldi with Roncero and Alonso

Playing in the kitchen

Playing in the kitchen

Roncero and Rinaldi

Roncero and Rinaldi

A brilliant game for a dozen guests; but the kitchen, Roncero says, is something different. He’s given a proof of this last week, the first chef to cook "solo" (after the dinner events with 5, 6 chefs) at Identità Milano. Here’s what we tasted: «We’ve been offering avantgarde in Spain for twenty years now: it’s not a fashion, we’ll preserve this style, but strongly respecting traditional cuisine. In fact, blending the two elements, as we’ll see».

Almond, melon and yuzu

Almond, melon and yuzu

Almond, melon and yuzu (paired with: Berlucchi '61 Satèn) – The first dish is inspired by a very traditional soup from Spain, and in particular from Andalusia, Granada and Malaga: ajo blanco (stale bread, almonds, garlic and white grapes, all blended so as to have a velvety texture. The process is very similar to another Spanish classic, gazpacho). «We make it in two steps: first of all, we make a soup of almonds with vinegar and olive oil, then we add different ingredients from the classic recipe, such as melon and yuzu, for the acid part, with a reference to Japan. Then there’s the technical element, which includes different textures and temperatures; we thus create a cloud of almonds and an ice cream of garlic, vinegar and almonds with liquid nitrogen. We bring tradition to the future».

Sole with black butter

Sole with black butter

Sole with black butter (paired with: Tenute Lunelli Pietragrande Trentino Bianco Doc 2017) – A round, very tasty dish, «starting from sole, which must be excellent». Here there’s a clear French influence, «the inspiration comes from a typical French recipe, Raie au beurre noir. We give our take: first of all we use soles instead of ray, then we make a sauce with beurre noir, another sauce with butter and capers, and finally a cream of mustard and mango, with a citric note that balances the fattiness. A fantastic dish, in my opinion».

Free range rooster royale with mole poblano and corn

Free range rooster royale with mole poblano and corn

Free range rooster royale with mole poblano and mais (paired with: Numanthia - Numanthia 2013) – The free range rooster dish has a Mexican influence instead, «because we match it with a classic mole poblano» (a culinary specialty of Puebla, in Mexico; it’s made in the traditional version, with different ingredients - chipotle, tomatoes, almonds, bananas, walnuts, raisins, sesame, chives, cinnamon, parsley, pepper, onion, garlic... – but the basic ingredients are dark chocolate and chilli pepper). The rooster royale is stuffed with truffle and foie gras, plus a cream of corn, that is to say the food the rooster himself would eat.

Crème brûlée with citrus fruits

Crème brûlée with citrus fruits

Crème brûlée with citrus fruits(paired with: cocktail Belvedere, with vodka Belvedere, white vermouth and Campari) – Finally, a dessert that is a take on Crema Catalana, very typical in northern Spain, but with different citrus notes, including a frozen cream of blood oranges «which we serve by the table, pouring it on top of the crema catalana, lowering its temperature with liquid nitrogen. It’s a blend of fun, technique, ingredients and tradition».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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