A congress lasting five days, attendance via the new Gastronomika digital platform and free admission for the first time so that no professional has to miss it because of COVID-19. The doyen of gastronomic congresses will be held for the 22nd time from the 5th to the 9th of October with a mixed format of presentations and activities, most of them live, with public attendance through the Gastronomika digital platform instead of in person. The 2020 congress, with the title, “Caminos-Bideak-Pathways,” reviews alternative trends and realities in international gastronomy that are breaking new ground and are totally state-of-the-art. Five days, five visions.

July 28, 2020

San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country, the international doyen of gatronomic congresses is adapting to meet the new situation created by the Covid-19 crisis and will be holding its XXII congress using a new format, that will combine different kinds of live presentations and activities, with no in-person attendance, broadcast from mythical restaurants in the city through the new digital platform.

This new venue will have various rooms in which activities will be offered at the same time as well as a digital exhibition space where companies will be able to display their products and get in touch with the people attending Gastronomika just as if they were in the same physical space.

Benjamín Lana, president of Vocento’s Gastronomy Division, the group that is organising the event, explained that “the sector finds itself at a real crossroads facing decisive challenges to be able to pull through. A lot of unknown quantities are opening up for each person and company that form part of it, but also a lot of new paths. At this year’s San Sebastián Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country congress we will try to rise to the challenge with imagination, new technological resources and a wide variety of alternatives so that we can show these pathways, bring together our huge gastronomic family and support them with all our strength and enthusiasm”.

After holding Gastronomika Live at the height of the lockdown, the first digital event to support the sector, with more than 40 sessions with chefs and experts from the sector from all over the world, San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country will be back in October remodelled as a congress, with more sessions than ever and with a lot of innovations. Gastronomika 2020 is swapping the Kursaal Centre for a virtual auditorium and is extending it duration to five days, and is also becoming, for the first time in its history, a congress that is totally free for anyone who registers, so that nobody gets left out.

It will be possible to follow it in real time from anywhere in the world and it will be structured into five major trends that in turn form a unique opportunity to discover the diversity of international cuisine (the congress slogan is “Caminos-Bideak-Pathways”). Each day Gastronomika 2020 will be developing one of these subjects with the partipation of the best and most innovative chefs in the world.

Twinning with Italy

Italy and Spain will be cooking together at San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country. There will be a day of activities devoted to Italy, one of the European countries that suffered the most, together with Spain, the effects of the health crisis. That is why, at Gastronomika 2020 Spain will be twinning with Italy through some of the best chefs from both countries, who will also be cooking together at two of the official congress dinners.

The unorthodox

It has been quite some time now that the only paths open to gastronomic restaurants have no longer been those that follow the canonical model favoured by Michelin that lead to winning stars. There are more and more creative chefs who are opting for a certain degree of informality on their premises and are offering proposals that are committed to a direct kind of cooking without making great changes in food items, mostly using local, strictly seasonal ingredients. Perhaps because of their unorthodox approach many of these chefs have not been very well represented at gastronomic congresses, although their customers are mostly inveterate gourmets. They have emerged spontaneously without any planning in various towns and villages in the last few years but they can now be considered to form part of a single group, with its own individualities and singularities, that transcend fashions. They are not all bistrots, nor are they far removed from the Michelin world, but they all offer an alternative vision with a strong gastronomic personality at the same time as prices that are, in general, more moderate. San Sebastian Gastronomika-Euskadi Basque Country is looking into this movement to rediscover, analyse and assess what could be called “post-bistronomy”, with a documentary, round tables and presentations from a dozen of these ‘alternative’ chefs.

“Black Cuisines Matter”

We are opting in this cycle to raise awareness about “black cuisine”, a socio-culinary “new wave” (“Black Cuisines Matter”) which proudly champions its racial origins and culinary ancestors (Africa, the West Indies, America…) and has become more and more widespread in the last few years. To do this, some of the best black chefs in the world will be coming on stage at the virtual auditorium.

“We continue to support the world of gastronomy; we do so out of duty for them. Holding Gastronomika 2020 is a token of our love for the sector, through a congress that is just as close but even more open than ever”, Roser Torras sums up. Torras is the manager of the event and a member of the technical committee, that Andoni Luis Aduriz, Josean Alija, Hilario Arbelaitz, Karlos Arguiñano, Juan Mari Arzak, Eneko Atxa, Martín Berasategui and Pedro Subijana form part of. As part of the new features at this year’s congress, some of its restaurants will be turned into sets for a day where live presentations and activities will be held “so that the territory, as it always does, can really experience the congress”, Torras adds.

José Andrés, Txomin Rekondo and Ignacio Medina, award winners in 2020

Although the congress will revolve around more than forty virtual presentations with live cooking, San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country has also programmed other activities, such as the organisation of the various competitions that are held during the congress, such as the III San Miguel National Potato Salad Competition and the IX National Grilling Competition.

The presentation of the prizes at the 2020 congress will also take place, which were awarded after the meeting that the jury held in February this year. The Asturian chef based in Washington, José Andrés will receive the Tribute Award for his humanitarian work and his permanent commitment to solidarity. The Golden Gueridón will be presented to Txomin Rekondo, who has one of the best wine cellars in the world at his restaurant in San Sebastián, and the “Pau Albornà i Torras” gastronomic journalism award will go to the journalist, Ignacio Medina, for his contribution to gastronomic journalism in Latin America in the last ten years.

There will also be different tasting sessions and gastronomic workshops where it will be possible to appreciate the enormous riches, variety of options and trends that our cuisine offers, through its autonomous communities and food companies.

The virtual exhibition space at this congress is another of the important innovations at Gastronomika 2020. The platform will also have a digital area where companies and sponsors will be able to display their products and get in touch with visitors just as if they were in the same physical space. Thanks to digital stands and online communication, interaction and commercial networking are not going to disappear.

In this way Gastronomika, organized by grup gsr and El Diario Vasco, 2020 is back again, institutionally supported by the Basque Government, Gipuzkoa Provincial Council and San Sebastián City Hall, and is even stronger than ever with an ambitious international programme. To follow all the information and register for free, its web site is already up and running, and will be the space that will be used from the 5th to the 9th of October this year for the live broadcasting of the congress. The digital platform on which the congress will be broadcast will also allow for the interaction of the public with questions and surveys. To take part, all you need to do is to register for free in advance at the web site: www.sansebastiangastronomika.com.