In Spain, Moreno Cedroni explains how noble pasta is

The chef on the stage of the Encuentro de los Mares congress. He also spoke of sustainability (while Senigallia has become plastic free...)

Moreno Cedroni at Encuentro de los Mares in Mal

Moreno Cedroni at Encuentro de los Mares in Malaga

Encuentro de los Mares was the first edition of the congress that took place a few days ago between Malaga, Cadiz and the surroundings. It was organised by Vocento, the Spanish press industry multimedia communication group, who are also the authors of Gastronomika and Madrid FusiónEncuentro de los Mares was born in fact as "de dos Mares", two seas, as they initially hypothesized a meeting of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the Iberian coasts. But then they thought they’d rather create an itinerating event that could present seafood cuisine from all around the world; and not just that, but all the related topics too, mostly connected with sustainability. Therefore chefs, researchers, fishermen, scientists. There were many prominent speakers, including two great chefs from the guest country, Italy. These were Moreno Cedroni and Pino Cuttaia. We’ve already mentioned the latter, see Cuttaia: avanguardia oggi è riscoprire la cucina dimenticata del Mediterraneo (in Italian). Here’s what Cedroni said instead.

«Those who interpret tradition with a totally new concept are revolutionary»: with these words José Carlos Capel, the greatest Spanish culinary critic as well as the president of Madrid Fusión, presented Moreno Cedroni to the audience of Encuentro de los Mares, first edition of the congress that took place a few days ago in Malaga, Cadiz and the surroundings.

El cocinero Cedroni didn’t expect this presentation. Yet in the dish he presented – and in the concept itself of his class – this is what he confirmed to be, just like Capel said: a revolutionary who interprets tradition with a totally new concept. So the Spanish and international press in the audience, as well the cheering colleagues and gastronomists, found themselves first of all in front of what is the typical emblem of Italian food, pasta. However, as mentioned, it was under a different perspective, capable of making its identity noble, of presenting it with an original concept.

"Recreando el Adriático” (Recreating the Adriatic Sea) was the title the chef chose for his ponencia: he presented the sea of Senigallia, to be specific, drawing inspiration from its history and roots, but then projecting it into a different dimension, not just more contemporary, but also more respectful of the environment. Pasta, the basic Italian food, because «when we go abroad it’s always nice to bring something that characterises us, our emblem». In this case, with penne: which first of all you must eat one by one – not mouthfuls, like in a trattoria – so you can appreciate their texture,  the cooking, the flavour of the wheat and of the seasoning.

Penne rigate “Gentile”, butter with sea urchins, dried scallops, wild herbs and chargrilled cuttlefish 

Penne rigate “Gentile”, butter with sea urchins, dried scallops, wild herbs and chargrilled cuttlefish 

The latter is made of three main ingredients, «one is fresh and seasonal. The second is dried, the third, is canned, hinting at the concept of sustainable fishing». They are, respectively, cuttlefish, scallops and sea urchins, «a “sauce” that stands out from the classic, banal, usual seafood sauce. This was where it all began». The dish is in the menu La Madonnina del Pescatore, «and I must say it’s incredibly popular».

Why the choice of a canned ingredient? «Preserved fish, as well as preserved vegetables, have always been very important if we go a few decades back. They have allowed us to stock food when it’s in season, when there are large amounts and perhaps the market cannot absorb all the offer, so that we can then use it year-round. I chose a sea urchin preserve because it’s a very popular product in Spain, and very expensive there».

What unites the cuttlefish (chargrilled, in the raw way), the scallops and the sea urchins is a mix of grilled herbs, «I spoke of this at Identità Milano 2019 (see Moreno Cedroni: la curiosità si fa chef– in Italian)». With the sea urchins, Cedroni makes a butter; «the scallops are dried and then blended with oil, and placed on the base of the plate: you eat every piece of penne pasta “cleaning” this cream on the bottom of the plate, with a very interesting gesture; it’s not the usual thing of getting 4 or 5 penne with your fork and eating them. Instead, you enjoy them one by one [this is why when serving them, they give pincers as cutlery], slowly. By doing so, pasta is made noble, it gets the importance it deserves».

The dish made at the congress in Andalusia 

The dish made at the congress in Andalusia 

Before the tasting in the Tunnel, however, they serve «a lyophilised sea urchin with a mould in the shape of a sea star. We serve it on a stone»: the client takes the sea-urchin-star and crumbles it on the pasta, as if it were cheese. «In this dish there’s research, tradition and taste. Research should not distort our work in the kitchen, but add something to it».

During the lesson Cedroni also illustrated his commitment with environmental sustainability. Last March, the town of Senigallia passed a law – similar to other places – that forbids restaurants and shops to use plates, glasses, straws and bags unless they are made in biodegradable and compostable materials. This project follows the town’s choice, last year, to join the #Ecocannucce [literally, “eco-straws”] campaign launched by Marevivo, so as to reduce plastic consumption as much as possible. «I’ve taken this commitment over a year ago – says the chef – Abolishing plastic is important, starting from everyday habits: so no more disposable glasses and straws at Il Clandestino. It’s a tiny thing, of course; but if we all did our share, we could reach the goal. As chefs, we can do a lot for the sea, by using sustainable fish and by stopping the use of plastic».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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