Perspective, fire, ingredients: the cuisine of Paulo Airaudo

The Italian-Argentinian chef in San Sebastian joins association Ambasciatori del Gusto. And announces a new location for his Amelia during Identità

Paulo Airaudo at Identità Milano 2019. All phot

Paulo Airaudo at Identità Milano 2019. All photos are from Brambilla-Serrani

When Paulo Airaudo, the Italian-Argentinian chef from Amelia (and now an Ambasciatore del Gusto), arrived in San Sebastian, he was well aware of his cultural and gastronomic heritage, and of his goal of presenting a personal and different cuisine, preparing what he loves most. It was a brave challenge in a city famous all around the world for its often very traditional cuisine. This gamble, however, soon granted him lots of praise and in just a few months he conquered the first Michelin star. To do so he uses the eccentric perspective of a foreigner, a different point of view on the tradition of the Basque Country: he uses the same ingredients, many of which come from small local producers, to present something original. At Amelia, for instance, 80% of the dishes come from a 1-square-metre grill, a cooking technique the chef holds very dear because it preserves flavours and elements without changing them and allows, thanks to the fire, to keep a direct, immediate connection with the ingredient.

Airaudo and, in the background, Niccolò Vecchia, who presented the lesson 

Airaudo and, in the background, Niccolò Vecchia, who presented the lesson 

Airaudo took part in the Nuove Identità section at Identità Milano 2019 and presented Sardine, beetroot and crème fraîche: a neat, clean, dish, made of very few ingredients. The beetroot, in different shapes and textures (puréed, sliced and pickled) and sardine, which they grill at the restaurant, and in this case was simply cooked with a torch.

Sardine, beetroot and crème fraîche

Sardine, beetroot and crème fraîche

«I love playing with different temperatures and moving from the grill at 750°C to cold temperatures», says the chef, who presents a second tasting of Rum ice cream (prepared in the traditional way, cooking the milk with bread, and sugar, and later mixing this with the spirit), cream of avocado and caviar. This recipe is also the input to explain his idea of sustainability, which is strictly and only based on local products, but also on those who make products of the highest quality even if they are not really around the corner: so the avocado comes from a small farmer in a town close to San Sebastian, while the caviar, which has a long maturation and a very special texture, was selected by an Italian farm owned by a Scandinavian company.

Rum ice cream, cream of avocado and caviar

Rum ice cream, cream of avocado and caviar

Sustainability, however, is also about running a business so that it stands on its feet and can guarantee jobs and wellbeing to the staff: «An example? We decided to stay open only three days and a half each week. So we all have time to rest, have a nice time with our families, and then go back with enthusiasm to the most beautiful job in the world!».

At the moment Amelia is a very intimate place, with only 8 tables seating 18-20 people maximum per service. The staff includes some 20 people from all around the world. There are some changes coming up, however: Airaudo has found a new location where he will continue his idea of restaurant offer. It will be ready by the end of 2019. Dining room and kitchen will be joined in the same space, so as to get the guests involved and bring them at the heart of the experience.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

IG2019: costruire nuove memorie


Amelia De Francesco

Born in Naples, now based in Lucca, she started off as a literary critic before focusing on wine and food (her passion). She loves travelling and the friendly atmosphere of a dining experience

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