Boundary cuisine. We cook at the boundaries of flavour, concept and technique. The ones that allow us to take certain risks and to push the limits established by our memories.

 

More than just separating, delimiting and distancing, this word is perfectly suited to describing this moment of my life. Luckily for me, my profession is capable of crossing boundaries, of coming and going, of taking, of bringing, of teaching and learning.

Those things that are separated by nature in some cases, and by man in many others, gastronomy can unite and enrich, to the same extent that other disciplines do.

At yet another point in history in which humankind, marked by culture, tradition, religion and politics, seems to be increasingly divided, I have faith in cooking (hard as it is, yet gratifying) as a bond that unites and enriches.

These comings and goings, surprises and discoveries have opened my mind to traditions which, while unfamiliar to me, I find to be truly revolutionary. I am ever more convinced of the importance of local produce, of its incalculable worth; but at the same time, leaving a window open to the world is enriching both to the palate and to our own culture and knowledge. I make each ingredient, each technique, each nuance my own; I continue in a language that I have been devising for years – my language, the one in which I speak to my clients through my dishes.

Creative boundaries

Working method and inspiration to create a new cuisine.

The search

The search is one of the most beautiful and at the same time most complex moments of every season. It is the moment where I try to give a form to my culinary thoughts and to bring to life the expression of my sensibilities, curiosities, instincts, desires and dreams. This search turns itself into an intense frenzy inside my head, as it tries to give a form to everything I want to express – my dishes, new ways of cooking. The expertise accumulated throughout my career – and especially over the past year – has been very valuable in this process. It seems paradoxical that all of my knowledge is necessary to me, and yet I must rid myself of all of my baggage at the very moment of taking the next step; opening my mind to the new, the unseen, the never before constructed or cooked by myself or anyone else.

The journey

I have learnt about the gastronomic cultures of the many countries that I have been fortunate enough to visit. There I encountered concepts which, in my understanding, could be polarised by the differences between these countries, and between them and our own concepts, customs, flavours and produce. But I also came across unexpected discoveries. In cultural boundaries I have found a refuge in which to build this year’s lines of reasoning. A season in which our land, as powerful and singular as it is plural, intertwines subtly in some cases and aggressively in others with these cultures that I find so exciting. Between them, I construct new dishes.

Enriching my food and my flavour spectrum with foreign elements forces me to undertake an exercise in responsibility with my own roots, with myself. I traverse the boundaries between my land and the rest of the world.

Crossing the boundaries between flavours and new forms of harmony is tricky. Just as fine as the lines between lands, cultures, people and traditions. An intermediate point that also separates. Pushing the limits is what motivates me to turn barriers into new sensations that give the diner a new and complete experience. Finding the balance. An imaginary way to cross these lines, without the burden of baggage, with your memory, with your life experience. Crossing boundaries that separate, uniting cultures through food. Bringing together tradition, thought, innovation, flavours and produce. Dreaming of invisible boundaries that will distance themselves from the high walls that do, in fact, divide the world.

Funambulism

The harmonious balances that I propose are an intuitive exercise based on the memory of flavour and a wide palette of tastes, aromas and textures, and with which I imbue each of my creations. This journey between the components of a dish, balance and harmony prevails over their origin; the significance of proximity is diminished when one feels that the world is their pantry. And this attitude unites us more than it separates us. A dish can be the stage for great diversity and togetherness. Because of their quality and variety, and my familiarity with my closest surroundings, I largely construct my dialogues using locally sourced ingredients. I am privileged to have such biodiversity in this region. As a cook, being able to recreate my region, my province, my community and my country through my cuisine is a calling card like no other. I feel very comfortable putting produce that represents me on the table, produce that I have been eating since I was a child and that I have been cooking for years, produce that is also nature’s gift that allows us to live. I am committed to localness, and if you allow yourself to, you will discover that there is complete harmony between the familiar and the not-so-familiar.

Boundary cuisine. We cook at the boundaries of flavour, concept and technique. Where we allow ourselves to take certain risks and to push the limits established by our memory.

The produce paradox

At Quique Dacosta Restaurante we work with local produce; we defend it, promote it, and very often revive it. We respect seasonality. We also use products from further afield; we know their origin and exactly how far they have travelled to reach us. We take everything we can from what our own land provides, but we are realistic and do not limit ourselves to the purely local.

We are also aware of the problems of the global food market, of the loss of biodiversity in favour of globalisation and uniformity of consumption, opacity, conflicts of interest, imbalance and a senseless system of subsidies, among many other things.

As consumers, it is our responsibility to be informed, to know where produce comes from, when it is in season, what varieties exist. Clearly, if you want to eat a big juicy steak in Denia where there is no livestock, we can bring it in from elsewhere, and we do just that – but not indiscriminately, nor at any price. People in Madrid will continue to eat besugo al horno, baked sea bream, one of their traditional dishes, using fish from a sea they do not have – but they should at least know where it comes from.

In short, it is clear that the value of food is what it is, and that as responsible consumers, we should not undervalue it.

If we want quality produce, we need to encourage it. We can do this by supporting small-scale producers, farmers who understand and respect the land, sustainable livestock and fishing; and we should always value the work and processes that go into its production, and to the end product.  We need to be aware of everything that goes into each orange, prawn or grain of rice that we put in our mouths, whether it comes from nearby or far away. We should seek a balance, make informed decisions and above all, be responsible.

 

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