forum gastronomic barcelonaTwenty years have passed since the Fòrum Gastronòmic Barcelona event started cooking for the first time. After the experiences of these years, it is time for the 2019 edition to take an introspective look at what is happening in gastronomy. Although tradition is still the dominant force, creativity and the avant-garde have opened new paths in a sector that is on the boil. There are both time-honoured and modern recipes, often spiced up by the influence of other cultures and adapted to the new demands of consumers who are increasingly conscious of their eating habits.

Taking the topic of ‘(Re)thinking gastronomy’ to heart, the talks between renowned chefs and rising stars will focus on innovation, sustainability, young talent and female leadership. This event, which will bring 31 Michelin stars to the Montjuïc site from 18 to 20 November, is the meeting place for many agents in the sector, from craft companies offering locally sourced products to major food corporations.

“The reassessment of local produce, small producers and even home-grown food, are among the main trends that are guiding the food industry in recent years” said Pep Palau, co-director of Fórum Gastronómico Barcelona. He also added that “it is important that the event reflects the sector’s sensitivity towards sustainability, social awareness and preference for ethical products”. Some examples of good practices are the optimisation of production to avoid food waste, the choice of local and seasonal ingredients as a way to reduce environmental impact and the creation of healthy dishes.

In this sense, Palau stated that “we are going through a period in which gastronomy is more plural, open to suggestions: some are adapting classic recipes or returning to traditional cooking, others concentrating on plants, health and quality… the event is a platform for identifying all these trends”.

A showcase for trends

Fòrum Gastronòmic Barcelona will attract 300 exhibiting companies and around 45 chefs, who will present new ideas in European cooking and put the variety of the gastronomy sector on display. There is a greater focus on wine with Forum Vino, which will host talks by respected oenologists, winemakers and sommeliers. There will also be a space for preparing desserts and sweets and sessions on business and hotels in the Fòrum Empresa.

The activity programme includes a number of showcooking sessions with famous local chefs such as Paco Pérez, Jordi Cruz, Carme Ruscalleda, Sergio and Javier Torres (Cocina Hermanos Torres) and Oliver Peña. The session “The Effervesence of European Cooking” will bring together five young European chefs to share their views on haute cuisine: David Andrés, Nadia Sammut, William Jorgensen, Francesca Barreca and Marco Boccarelli.

The FórumLab space will discuss gastronomy and look at new business models with the aim of detecting and discussing new developments in the sector. More than 35 experts will offer presentations on running a business, digitalization and sustainability for the restaurant sector. The speakers will include the expert on social media Phil González, consultors Eva Ballarín and Oskar García, chefs Sergio and Javier Torres, Victor Quintillà, Xavier Pellicer, Marc Puig-Pey and other representatives of the academic, business and agricultural sectors.

A very sweet edition

Panettoni, chocolate, ice cream, cakes, pralines… this year Fórum Gastronòmico Barcelona will leave more space for dessert. The Foro Dulce section will premiere its new Expo Nadal/Sweetfusió, organised by the Gremi de Pastisseria, Barcelona’s cake making guild, which will have exhibitions from 25 companies in the dessert sector. Josep Alcaraz, co-director of the event, explains that “desserts have a special place in this edition because this sector is growing in Spain through famous names with an international reputation”.

There will be specific sessions on business management and product preparation. Finally, the German chef René Frank will present a workshop to show the latest trends in gourmet desserts. Similarly, the cooks Jordi Brutron and Xano Saguer, creators of the pastry school Espai Sucre, will host a special masterclass to show how chocolate can be used in contemporary cooking.

According to the sector survey by Produlce, ceach Spaniard eats an average of 27 kg of sweet products per year: eight of bread, six and a half of biscuits, five of chocolate, four and a half of cakes and three of sweets, gum and nougat. All in all, the dessert sector, with a volume of sales of 5,679 million euros in Spain, represents 4.79% of all turnover in the food and drink sector.

HELENA DE TORRES