These days, Kevin Fehling, an exceptional chef who was recently awarded three Michelin stars once again, is setting off from Hamburg for Yucatán. And I have the great pleasure to accompany him virtually and to publish his impressions and the experiences of the trip here. The occasion for this trip is described with the motto The art of slow. The art of gently ripening products. Give dishes time to develop to become perfect. A total of eight top chefs will meet for four intense days of culinary summit. The provenance of the chefs ranges from representatives from Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala to Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. Each of the eight chefs not only brings an idea for a joint menu to the Yucatán Peninsula – they also have an individual, unusual product in their luggage: an edible wonder.
At a meeting before the trip, Kevin Fehling already allowed me a glimpse of his miracle product and some initial ideas for a dessert recipe based around it: einkorn. A very ancient cereal that used to be widely grown together with other ancient cereals such as emmer and spelt, especially in Northern and Central Europe. For a long time, they were displaced by the higher-yielding durum and soft wheat, but the ancient grains have now made a respectable comeback. However, another ingredient also plays a very important role:
Kevin Fehling: “Time is of the essence when it comes to food development and preparation. It is a completely different time factor when the guests are seated at the table. Then it is best to stop time and pause in a space of taste.
Time plays an immense role in flavor, as it does in finishing sauces. Here, “Perfection is in the reduction” and our sauces cook in for up to three days. This also requires the perfect products, ripened to the point.”
And it is precisely these two factors, time and product quality, that are also at the heart of the culinary event. After all, initiator Ron Zacapa is a brand that focuses on high product quality and, above all, an extremely long maturation process of up to 23 years. Only the noble essence of the first pressing, the so-called Virgin Sugar Cane Honey, is used for production. The distillates are aged in bourbon, oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level in the “house above the clouds,” the traditional Zacapa rum warehouse.
The international campaign The art of slow brings together the brand, the value of exclusive ingredients and the creative inspiration of great chefs in the home country of rum. It will be exciting to see what emerges from the Edible Wonders brought along by the top chefs in combination with the impressions of Guatemala and, above all, the fresh products of the local farmers and ranchers.
Kevin Fehling: ” I like drinking good rum and learning about the world – although I only know Guatemala from a short shore leave. The approach of working with other chefs to challenge the theme of time on a local yet international level and using the best ingredients to create a menu is very appealing.”
At the end of the event, an eight-course slow dining menu is created. The guest chefs will then take this menu back to their respective home countries and bring it to life in individual events for journalists, bloggers and consumers in the spring and summer of 2016. There will be a total of two dates for The Table in Hamburg, with 20 guests each enjoying Kevin Fehling’s interpretation. And: There will be an exclusive ticket for one evening that I will raffle here via Kochfreunde.com. More about this in an upcoming report.
The participating chefs
Kevin Fehling, Germany
Jacques Pourcel, Switzerland
Daniel Engellau, Sweden
Diego Rossi, Italy
Maria Marte, Spain
Abel Hernandez, Mexico
Mark Rausch, Colombia
Mario Campollo, Guatemala
Guatemala, with its mysterious Mayan culture, is the home of Zacapa Rum. The starting product is a particularly high-quality sugar cane, which finds ideal climatic conditions here in the heart of Central America.
The storage of distillates of different ages is carried out according to the so-called “solera system” (solera = “suelo” Spanish for soil). In this process, the oak barrels are stacked in several rows and connected to each other. This allows the different rums to flow together. Exclusively from the barrels lying on the ground, which contain the oldest rums, extracts are used for the final product with the intense, fruity-sweet bouquet.
In total there are three variants of the Zacapa
Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 is the heart and flagship of the Ron Zacapa family. He has won several awards. In a bulbous glass unfold the fruity sweet aroma and subtle notes of wood, vanilla, caramel and chocolate.
Ron Zacapa Centenario Etiqueta Negra is a particularly full-bodied premium rum. The typical Zacapa sweetness is complemented with smoky notes and subtle nuances of coffee. The finish is round, smooth and extravagant.
Ron Zacapa Centenario XO is the most exclusive rum from Zacapa. In the final stage of its aging, this “Super Premium” rum is stored in French cognac barrels. His bottling is done in the bulbous designer bottle developed for him.
More reports from Kevin Fehling’s trip can be read in the coming days both here and next door on Facebook. Under the hashtag #zacapaartofslow, the posts of the other participants and reporters can be viewed on Twitter and Instagram – and finally, an overview of the events can be found on Tumblr.