Farewell familia

What is a family?  Your family is the people you are related by blood to.  Though I like to think theres more to a family than a technicality like that.  When you work somewhere that your around the same group of people 18 hours a day, spend the weekends with them, eat with them, and pretty much do everything but bath with them…what do you call that?  These people I was with for nearly 6 months are so much more than simply co-workers.  The definition of a family is a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for.  Ive learned so much, and not just about food.  These people around me have helped me grow in the best way possible and im gunna miss em like hell.

Me with the sous chef of the fish station.  Taught me so damn much.

Pablo apparently trying to bite my face off good bye.

The very last plates to leave the kitchen.

The entire kitchen was wrapped up and emptied untill they reopen in January.

Stay classy everyone, and TOMA!


Ive been having some trouble uploading videos on youtube, but I finally got one of them to work!  I was saving these for last, but since its the only ones to work you get to enjoy them now.

So during gastronomika there was a big lecture by grant Achatz which I was going to miss due to needing to leave early for work.  Major fail.  Though to my surprise I found out that there was a private small Q&A session that was going on before that which I would be able to make..WIN!  There were two different lectures going on at the same time, Grant and Heston blumenthal.  So basically I had to pick one.  As great as Heston is I had to go see grant, and I think it turned out to be a great choice…


Just The one for now, but ive got a few more coming as soon as i can get everything to upload.  Check back soon!

The foooood!

A nice part about this event was that there was food around every corner, you could not avoid it.  All kinds of vendors trying to give you their great product, wineries handing out glasses like they were free and incredible lectures that gave you even more food!
Though I make this post not just to make you jealous and make you wish you had smellovision, but as a chance to actually see some of the innovations coming from this event.

Arzack- “Summersault”-This was a dessert that had that pyramid shaped plate which was filled with different purees and sauces that were all strong enough to stick to the plate on their own.  It was then flipped upside down to have a choclate placed on top.  Trying to make eating more interactive.

This was a shrimp dish.  Two little shrimps that were poached in a sauce were filled into the grilled lemon.  There is then that paper with made to mimic flames to try to set the tempo for the dish.  The lemons were grilled on volcanic rocks, the paper had a volcanic ash on it and the dish was sprayed with a certain type of perfume to try to hit you in multiple senses.  This was actually really cool.  It hit you with taste, smell and actual diners would have a small i pad like screen below a glass plate playing a loop of flames to hit you visually as well.  A bit cheesy?  Maybe, but I love the direction they’re going.

Tasty nameless thing 1

Tasty nameless thing 2

This was a booth that had some really interesting and tasty cocktails throughout the event using rum.  This one had rum, lemonade, wakame, sea fennel and some blue stuff.  Very intersting flavors that worked so well together.

This lovely friend of mine here had some great cheeses from france.  One that I enjoyed in particular was her roquefort.  They get the mold using a very interesting technique.  They take rye bread and bake it in a very very hot oven so that the outside is basically burned and the inside is still raw.  Then then take these loaves and put them in a cave for some time to create the blue mold for the cheese.  Its magical really.

I think they like ham here…


So this whole event was one incredible spectacle for me.  The food, the chefs, the venue, everything about it had me in awe like a kid at a candy store.  I want to share as much as I can with everyone, though that will be a bit crazy in just one post.  So im going to try to make a post every day this week going over something from the event.

First thing on the list is to show you a bit from martin’s demonstration. He showed a lot of what were doing in the restaurant.  The new menu, the new dining room and kitchen as well as some things that are in the works for next year at the restaurant.

This was the tasting given away at his lecture.  Essentially its a tasting portion of our salmon tartar course.  salmon tartar and roe, wakame, cucumber gelee, cherry juice picked red onions.  Very clean and fresh with great layers of flavors, love this course.

Martin is huge in Spain, that is indisputable.  While trying to take this photo we had several people coming up for his autograph, and he gladly gave it.

Something we were able to see before martin even went to the stage was the influence he has had on other chefs in Spain.  Before martin took to the stage we watched some of the younger rising chefs go on to speak for their topic.  There were a few that mentioned their time with martin and the great influence he had.  They wore it as if it was a badge of honor. which it really is.


This is just a quick preview of much more to come of the marvel that is Gastronomika.

Whats a Gastronomika you ask?  Well the recipe is simple.  Take one beautiful venue on the san sebastian beach, fill it with the best chefs in Spain, add the already incredible food vendors of spanish food, pour in the best of Spanish wine. let marinade for 2-3 days and enjoy.

Be warned upon entering you may never want to leave.

Om nom nom

Yes that’s a real live rum gun.  Dont worry the safety is on.

Nothing better than a lecture with Front row V.I.P. seating.

Lovin the San Pellegrino booth!

Check back soon for an update!

Lost in translation

Ever talk to someone in another language that you yourself can barely speak?  You know you’re butchering it and end up playing a game of charades just to try to get a few phrases across.  Being in another country causes so many things to get misinterpreted. Language is an obvious one, though because we come from nearly two different worlds there are so many other things that get intertwined.  Theory on food, fashion, ethics, habits, Nearly anything you can imagine is a bit different when you grow up in a different culture.  When you have certain beliefs how can you say the other person is wrong?  Americans believe ABC about food, while Europeans believe XYZ, whose right/wrong?  Is anyone?  I suppose the idea to take away is not one side or the other, but to simply have an open mind and embrace different cultures and what they believe.  No matter how bizarre it is.

American style cookies and soda? What does that even mean!?


They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, grow in the dirt and some can kill you but boy is it worth it. Mushrooms, I swear Basque country has got some of the best.  You can see this is a mushroom loving area when you can walk into any little corner store and find beautiful hongos peppered with grass and grit looking like they were picked out of the dirt just a few hours earlier.

So many chanterelles around the city, you could take a bath in them.

These are some of the in season beauties but regardless they have really cheap, beautiful fresh oyster and shitaki mushrooms that are flaunted around like they are some mass produced bargain white button mushroom.

A while back we had lunch with some friend including our dear Marti.  After eating this plate of mushrooms she made the comment that she would gladly take this over a plate of meat…bold statement.  For a long time I wanted to disagree, though I can no longer deny it.  yes there are some amazing quality meats that are some serious omnomnom’s, but a great plate of mushrooms can easily hang with the best of them.

Heres a couple shots of some great stuff we got in at the restaurant.

Yeah that thing was as big as my head, unreal.

If I were to mail kilo’s of these things to the U.S. I would finally be able to buy that pet baby tiger ive always wanted…oh well.


So Spain has incredible food, that goes without saying.   To no surprise theyre pretty good at making wine here as well.  When you want a beautiful bold red, you go to Rioja.  When you want something slightly sparking with your pintxos theres nothing better than a tall pour of txakoli.  Its refreshing, acidic, dry and is great with all things Spanish.  One of the cool things about this wine is how it is poured.  The bartender pours it from high above their head into the glass in an effort to bring out more of the bubbles.  Check out this video from a tapas bar not too long ago!

P.S. Kudos if you can name the bar!


Farewells and foundations

Being a cook, in any restaurant, often dictates a certain lifestyle. Cooks are rough neck, pirate, crazy people captivated to their craft.  Working in a restaurant together you’re locked in a basement of passionate like minded people learning and growing side by side. You’re caught in “the suck” and wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re in the trenches building bonds together.   These people are easy to find. Look for the guys full of burned arms, callused hands and bags under their eyes that will follow them forever. You spend 15 hours a day 5 days a week with these people and they become something like family. Though sometimes it just takes an instant upon meeting another crazy like minded stooge to get along great.  After her time at Martin and Quiqui Dacosta Athena is finally heading home back to the good ol USA. Though not before we get to have a good bye dinner for her.


Idiazabal cheese

Bacalao pil-pil (this deserves a whole post upon itself)

Suckling pig!

Aged beef chop.. oh my omnomnom.

Chocolate fig cake

Mixed Berry cheesecake…I think im going to have to make another notch in my belt.

Cant have a last meal without a last night on the beach…

Late night beach party

Farewell Athena, you will be missed.

We never met Athena before this weekend visit, though we all instantly got along great.  We heard not only about the stories of her travels, but her time at Queque Dacosta.  The even longer hours, grueling schedule, restless nights and intense staff would make your head spin.  Looking back now I cant help but be reminded of some words given to me by Richard Rosendale.  He is someone who has been an incredible inspiration since early on in my culinary career.  One of the important ideas that he told me about was mastering your craft, building the foundation to your future as a pyramid rather than a sky scraper.  Meaning  to establish a strong foundation of fundamentals to eventually reach a peak in your career.  Be the best at everything you do and focus on excellence at all times.  There are some people that like to try to take short cuts and find an easier way to get what they want, be it for a title, a position or selfish benefits.  Though they are limited in how far they will go if they are not mastering the skills needed to be successful.  Though its at different times Athena and I both have built/are currently building that foundation here in Spain.  A rare opportunity not many people get to have.  Hard work pays off, its an idea we both share and follow to the fullest.  I may be a stooge, but im building a foundation to excellence.