This past Tuesday and Wednesday, students and faculty at Miami Culinary Institute were given a rare opportunity to share with and learn from instructors from Basque Culinary Center, the world's foremost modern cuisine school. Located in San Sebastián, Spain, the BCC was created in 2009 by leading Spanish chefs, including Juan Mari Arzak, Andoni Luis Aduriz, and Eneko Atxa, among others, with "the aim of guaranteeing the continuity of cuisine as a centre for innovation in the future."
Tuesday afternoon, chef-instructor Luis Arrufat, whose pedigree includes stints at Mugaritz, El Bullí, and Arzak, gave a class to a select group of MCI students on a variety of modernist techniques. Beginning with a brief summary of the BCC campus and its mission, he followed up with a bit of theory, delving into the importance of research and development in cooking.
Afterward, Arrufat gave three live cooking demonstrations, ranging from spherification to foams, plating, tasting, and a respect for ingredients. Although many of these techniques have existed in high-end kitchens for some time, the eager young culinary students looked on in admiration, wondering how they will be able to apply the same techniques to their own styles.
Wednesday evening, legendary Spanish chef and cofounder of Basque Culinary Center Juan Mari Arzak was on hand to receive a President's Medal from Miami Dade College. The award has previously been given to Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, and other "leaders and luminaries from across the world for their impactful contributions to humanity." Having held three Michelin stars for his eponymous restaurant in San Sebastián since 1989, Chef Arzak was given the award for his lifetime achievement as an innovator in the culinary arts across the globe.
"I'd like to share this award with my daughter Elena, who accompanies me at the stoves," Arzak said while accepting the award. "I'd also like to thank all the cooks with whom I've helped create the new Basque cuisine."
For those keeping track, this is the second award in three weeks for Arzak in Miami. He was honored at this year's edition of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival at a dinner cooked by fellow Spanish chefs Quique Dacosta and Andoni Luis Aduriz, as well as Brazilian star Alex Atala.
The acclaimed chef shows no signs of leaving his beloved stoves anytime soon. "It is my destiny to end in the kitchen," he said, closing his acceptance speech.
Basque Culinary Center has been steadily reaching out to other culinary institutions around the world as part of its efforts to create a worldwide community for culinary advancement. With news earlier this week that Quique Dacosta might open multiple restaurants in Miami next year, it seems the Magic City may soon become a modernist hub.