Alex Atala: Behind the Flavour
Food has been firmly on the WDCD agenda from the start. And the upcoming event will be no exception. Joining us will be one of the world’s great pioneers in creative cooking: Alex Atala.
Among Atala’s achievements has been his pursuit of sustainable solutions in the world of fine dining. At D.O.M., the restaurant he opened in Sao Paolo in 1999, he refuses to import typically high-end ingredients such as fois gras and caviar, preferring instead to scour his native Brazil, and especially the Amazon region, for indigenous produce.
His trademark is to combine such produce with the techniques he picked up as a student in Belgium and at culinary hotspots in Namur, Montpellier and Milan. As a chef, his aim is ‘to step out of the comfort zone and propose a new gastronomic experience, rescuing the most authentic flavours of Brazilian cuisine according to a contemporary gaze’.
But Alex Atala is much more than a clever chef. He’s also a campaigner, curator, and contributor to all sorts of events. Last month he co-curated MAD, a two-day get-together of the world’s top chefs held annually in Copenhagen.
He has also spoken out in support of eating insects. That was a far-fetched idea not so long ago, but insects are now recognised as food by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. And needless to say, he has published a number of cookbooks, among them D.O.M. Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients. As if that wasn’t enough, his restaurant D.O.M. is currently rated 6th in the S. Pelligrino World’s 50 Best list.
While such a glittering career has made him a celebrity, Atala is wary of that tag and all that goes with it. ‘The more attention our industry receives from television, film, newspapers, magazines and the Internet, the less clear it becomes what it means to cook,’ he wrote in his introduction to MAD.
A chef whose creativity is equalled by his passion, Atala has written that ‘cuisine is the most important link between nature and culture’. That alone makes him a man with a message we should hear. We will, at WDCD 2015.