The Valencian chef wanted to convey the need for change and evolution in the sector with a stimulating presentation promoting awareness of attendees and encouraging his colleagues to think about new models of restaurant
- Begoña Rodrigo has chosen the stage of the XXV edition of San Sebastián Gastronomika, to share her reflection on the direction that the gastronomic sector should embrace. “I think it’s important that we say what we think. I am very grateful to be here in San Sebastián Gastronomika for the second time, but seeing how cuisine has changed in the last 25 years has made me think that congresses should also change.”
- With a stimulating presentation, the chef has stirred the awareness of the attendees and encouraged her colleagues to think of new restaurant business models, stressing that people travel from far away to attend gastronomy congresses looking for new things, and that’s just what they have to offer.
- Por último, ha querido compartir un mensaje de unión para sus compañeros, argumentando que “todos estamos intentando hacer las cosas lo mejor posible, pero hay cambios por hacer para conseguir salir adelante.” Finally, she wanted to share a message of unity for his colleagues, arguing that “we are all trying to do things the best that we can, but there are changes to be made if we want to progress.”
- After this powerful reflection, the newly appointed Ambassador of the D.O. Rice of Valencia, has exposed her work with acidity, thread of her proposal at La Salita Restaurant, and explained the work carried out with vinegars and pickles, as she offered a tasting of dishes marked by the presence of these, result of many years of trials, errors and abundant patience until reaching the perfect technique.
- El All i Pebre blanco con vinagre de limón y limón encurtido, el Arroz escabechado con manitas y careta de cerdo, y el Caldo de chufas han sido los escogidos por la chef para transmitir la versatilidad de la acidez y la profundidad de su investigación en este ámbito, siempre manteniendo en vínculo con su tierra que tanto le caracteriza. The white All i Pebre with lemon vinegar and pickled lemon, the Pickled rice with pig’s trotters, and the ‘Chufa’ broth have been the chosen dishes by the chef to convey the versatility of acidity and the depth of her research in this area, always tied to her land.
- “We try to reduce the ingredients to the minimum, so that the vinegar has a sense of its own, and transmits it to the dish,” explained the chef, who has been organically working in the field of acidity since the opening of her restaurant La Salita.
- Today, the application of acidity has spread to the cocktail bar of La Salita, led by Denys Cherkasov, who, together with Begoña, has taken the stage to explain the possibilities offered in his liquid proposal while offering the public his cocktail Under the fig tree.
San Sebastián, September 11th 2023. “Things are no longer as they were 25 years ago. Now it’s up to us to change things, to make sure that in 25 years, we’re still here.” This is how the Valencian chef Begoña Rodrigo started her presentation in the auditorium of San Sebastian Gastronomika.
After sharing her gratitude with the organization of the congress to have her in this edition, the chef wanted to share a reflection on the current picture of the sector. “Seeing how things in restaurant kitchens have changed over the last 25 years has made me think that congresses should change too.”
The current situation is not the same as it was 25 years ago, people are looking for new things, and the business model of restaurants has evolved. The teams want to work forty hours, and that the success of the projects does not come at their expense. If they want to keep progressing, Begoña Rodrigo shared today that “there are changes to be made to get ahead”.
In addition, she has shared a message of unity for her colleagues, arguing that “we are all trying to do things the best that we can, but there are changes to be made to progress” (link to the video of the introduction of her talk).
Acidity as the guiding thread
After this powerful reflection, the newly appointed Ambassador of the D.O. Rice of Valencia, has exposed her work with acidity at her restaurant La Salita.
After 18 years in the kitchen, Begoña Rodrigo has identified acidity as the guiding thread of her proposal. Since opening the doors of La Salita, her personal project, the chef has organically worked in this field to master balance and perfection to be able to give them presence in their dishes so that they provide nuances as unique as complex.
During her presentation, she explained that the inclusion of an acid tone in dishes has allowed her to create an extensive menu that diners can enjoy without feeling overwhelmed. Precisely, acidity cleanses the palate, and allows the transition to the next pass facilitating both the change of flavors and the digestive process.
Begoña has always been fascinated by the world of vinegars, but it was during the pandemic, when she had time to study the evolution of these products in the long term, the she deeply got into it. “When we closed because of the pandemic, we left a lot of pickles in the restaurant. Two years later, we realized they were sweet. So we started working with fructose, roots and tubers” explained the chef from the stage.
For the first time since the beginning of his professional career, she had time to work different combinations and research on the fermentations of alcohols and sugars. She then began to make her own mother vinegars, curing them, maturing them and flavoring them to create a wide variety of versions. From cardamom, cayenne and garlic, carob, or raspberries, to Valencia raisins or chili peppers, the ingredients that the chef uses in the preparation of her vinegars are truly unique.
Such is the passion of the chef for the world of vinegars, that she has managed to pass it on to Denys Cherkasov, mixologist at La Salita. Thus, the offer of cocktails is also marked by acidity. “We, cooks, have to let our teams explain what we do. At home, cocktails complement the dishes because Denys has become completely involved in what we do in the kitchen.”
In particular, Cherkasov has chosen his cocktail Under the fig tree, made with figs chlorophyll, and rice from Valencia to show the audience the application of these notes in the cocktail bar, and the infinite possibilities they offer.
“Our vinegars and pickles are the outcome of many years of trials, mistakes and abundant patience until reaching the perfect technique,” said Begoña, remembering that making vinegars and pickles requires a lot of training, patience and dedication, and that just as they can bring strength and character to a dish, they can ruin it hopelessly. In short, they can evoke an immensity of nuances in the palate, or annul it completely.
Nonetheless, her work with acidity does not end with vinegars. Like everything Begoña does, she wanted to take her findings to the next level, and began to explore the world of pickles. This way, she would be able to reflect another of her passions, the Valencian orchard, in her gastronomic proposal, in a more fresh way. “During the winter, we pickle and garden products so that we can offer them in summer too.” Since then, beets, carrots, lemon or other forgotten tubers from the Valencian orchard, act as catalysts of the chef’s philosophy in the kitchen.
About Begoña Rodrigo
Born in Valencia in August of 1975, Begoña Rodrigo is a self-taught chef who did not enter the world of cuisine in a conventional way.
She studied industrial engineering, but at the age of 20 she travelled to Amsterdam in search of an experience. She began cooking in 1995 at the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel under the orders of Nick Reade, and for eight years she worked in the Netherlands while traveling around the world in search of new flavors.
In 2003 she moved to London where to work at Aquarium. Two years later she returned to her hometown, and after a few months at “La Sucursal” (1* Michelin), she opened her first restaurant, La Salita, in November 2005.
Despite being pure character, inside and outside the kitchen, Begoña Rodrigo likes being a host and defines La Salita, as “a space where illusions, dreams and respect are possible”. After 10 years touring the world she moved back to Valencia to inaugurate her restaurant, which today is also her home. She is an inspiring, real woman with strong and clear ideas.
Her effort to recover the recipe book of her land,her exhaustive search for the best local product, and the balance, technique and beauty of each dish, are a reflection of the overwhelming personality of Begoña Rodrigo in the kitchen.
About La Salita
In November 2005, chef Begoña Rodrigo opened ‘La Salita’ in Valencia, her most personal project with which she sought to convey everything that had been assimilated throughout her career. Fourteen years later, she was awarded her first Michelin star.
Currently located within a wonderful palace in the district of Ruzafa in Valencia, the restaurant La Salita embodies the fruits of perseverance, effort and dedication. For years, chef Begoña Rodrigo dreamed of moving her Salita to this building packed with history. The space reflects the light of Valencia. With an exterior terrace in which guests can enjoy the first appetizers of the menu when the sun is out, and, inside, a dining room in two floors. The wine cellar occupies a room that maintains its original structure and wooden beams. The rest of the space also preserves some elements of the original construction, such as the wooden doors, or the ceramic floors.
Within this refuge, chef Begoña Rodrigo upholds her roots, her territory, her identity. For such, she relies on an extensive network of orchards, farmers with name and surname, and whose advice she fully trusts to later develop complex recipes from the most interesting products that her land has to offer.
The front-of-house is led by Sergio Rodrigo and César Olascoaga, and the cellar, by Jorne Buurmeijer, first sommelier to obtain a Master in Valencian Wines, who has designed the wine list of La Salita around them, always leaving room for the great undisputed wines of Spain, and of Europe.
About Denys Cherkasov
Born in Kiev, Denys Cherkasov has spent his entire life dedicated to hospitality. Deeply attracted by the technique and elegance of the bars and their bartenders, at 16 he began working as a busboy. From there he took a professional leap to join the Crystal Hall concert hall.
Trained in macroeconomics of hotels and restaurants, he also has a Higher Degree with certificate of excellence bartender, and a barista degree. In 2014 he arrived in Spain, and today he directs the cocktail bar of La Salita.
Internationally recognized as Best WSET Global Nose, Denys Cherkasov has been named Best Bartender of the Valencian Community according to the ABCV (Association of Bartenders of the Valencian Community and Murcia) in 2019, Best Nose of Spain in 2022, and Champion of Spain and Portugal in Patron Perfectionists Iberia 2023, in the category distilled in the contest Spirit Essence organized by Escolà Vins i Destil-lats and held under the shelter of the gala of the 50 Best Bars.
LA SALITA RESTAURANT
Carrer de Pere III El Gran 11
Tel: 910 694 007
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