At Madrid Fusión, Ricard Camarena explained how the pandemic boosted his submission to the product, “which now forms part of our creativity team”. The product and its sustainability, the logic of which has led him to make some changes to the restaurant.
Restaurant chef Ricard Camarena (Valencia) upheld his commitment to the product at Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España 2021. “We’ve been working with market garden produce for ten years, and even at the outset we realised we had to be at its service”. The pandemic has now led him to move up another rung, and consider the product as yet another component of the creative process.
“We knew that we were at its service, and that Toni – our farmer – was in charge, and we fell into line behind him, because the land was the end and we were the means, but during the pandemic we realised we also had to attach importance to the product’s environment, to the plants surrounding it, the trunks, the trees, and the ecosystems”. This was particularly evident, he explained, “when we came back to the land after the first lockdown and found products in a state of maturity that could almost be defined as decadence, a marvellous moment”.
That situation taught him that “you can never learn enough about the surroundings because you’ve always been conditioned by previous experience. Again we realised that we were the product’s service, and that its sustainability was our priority”. I was already paying it a great deal of attention through preserves, “but now we go one step further and, for example, we use pumpkin pulp for pickles, to make crème caramel and one of the desserts to round off the menu, a kind of pumpkin mochi with a pumpkin filling.”
The conception of sustainability by Camarena. Sustainability in the process itself and in comprehensive utilisation of the product, “which is easier for us thanks to the synergies created among all the restaurants. My job was to decide how to divide up all the surpluses among them. We’re like a gang of dealers”, he joked. And sustainability in the creative process, “because working with less also changed our way of understanding creativity, and brought new parameters into play”.
And also employment sustainability, and sustainability in terms of time. “I feel it’s also a luxury to be able to give the customer more time”. This reflection, he said, led him to rethink the restaurant’s opening hours, because “we can’t sell excellence if we don’t feel it ourselves first, and you do that by being fresh. Personally, I’ve seen that when I’ve been working for five days I’m not giving my all, and so, although now we’re only open from Wednesday to Saturday, I hope to open just three days a week. I think that way we’ll produce our best version. And that’s the real sustainability of the project”.
Bread, in its place
Because what Ricard Camarena is all about is natural, sustainable logic, it was his coherence that prompted him to take bread off the menu, and now it only features in a bread dish, “where it’s given the recognition it deserves”. “Last year I realised that there wasn’t much point having bread in my restaurant and I was going to do away with it, but we decided to make it ourselves and put it in whenever we want”. And also at the end, by way of a gift to customers when they leave. “That is creating value for the product”. That is Ricard Camarena.