Texture will be the flavor of the future, says maverick Spanish chef

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Chef Andoni Aduriz poses during the presentation of the “Save the Ocean Feed the World” campaign at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian on March 17, 2015. REUTERS / Vincent West

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ERRENTERIA, Spain, December 2 (Reuters) – Michelin-starred chef Andoni Luis Aduriz does not run a restaurant. Mugaritz, the restaurant he founded in 1998, has gone beyond that label to become a laboratory that designs astronaut food and pushes customers out of their comfort zone, while also feeding them.

From an old Basque farmhouse in the shade of an oak tree that gave the restaurant its name – Aritz means oak in Basque – Aduriz rocked the restaurant world and garnered a constant stream of awards, but also reviews for its treatment of flavors.

“Some people seem to think smell and taste are the most important factor,” Aduriz said in a session published Thursday at the Reuters Next conference. “We are convinced that textures are at least as important, if not more,” he added.

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Over the course of a 20-course menu, customers encounter unexpected flavors, ingredients and sensations and are invited to play with the food between their fingers, embracing what Aduriz calls “the discomfort of the poetic”.

At one point, diners have to suck edible flowers from sculpted ceramic faces.

Aduriz also formulates the perfect meal for passengers who will be navigating space in commercial spacecraft.

“We are talking about … people who are going to travel in space … and who will want to eat well. The food-pleasure-hedonism factor will be present,” he said, as future astronauts relish his offer of two freeze-dried foams.

In a future imagined by Aduriz, sustainability is crucial, as is serving healthy food. By resurrecting ancient preparation techniques such as fermentation, he aims to achieve such a balance.

However, its creative team strives to evade the prescriptive elements of artificial intelligence and avoid the safe option of providing customers with a familiar and comfortable experience.

“Mugaritz is a non-algorithm. He doesn’t give you what you like, he gives you what you might like … After all, our mouths give us the opportunity to eat the world.”

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Reporting by Belén Carreño, Silvio Castellanos and Raúl Cadenas; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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