Spanish Andoni Luis Aduriz, chef of one of the most innovative restaurants in the world, Mugaritz, has warned that guides, lists and social media are all contributing to a lack of diversity in gastronomy to the extent that if chefs and restaurants want to be successful they need to follow a particular model and be the same. “Isn’t this colonialism, isn’t this imperialism?”
In a passionate presentation at the European Food Summit held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the chef said that in the past, guides like Michelin or Zagat served as the mediators between what was going on in the kitchen and what came out to the public.
“These guides were written or printed to connect the public to chefs. The end result, however, has been that certain models were established,” Andoni said.
“Michelin in Europe defined the quality and the way that a restaurant needed to operate to be eligible for a star. If you don’t follow a certain approach and meet all the criteria you are not considered and are therefore out. If you have a star you need to follow certain criteria like having a table cloth for example.”
He said that guide books like Michelin have determined what criteria are necessary to get stars. “They have come up with a model of what a restaurant should be. Isn’t this imperialism?”
He said that for many years only Europe played the game and other continents watched the game being played but now that has also changed. “At some point we will all play this game and we will have to do something about it. We will all have specific rules of how a restaurant should be, how a bistro should look like.”
Andoni said that social media had also contributed to the massification of opinion and also created lots of noise. “The problem is that there are studies on how restaurants could alter their equipment and decor to be successful on Instagram.
“With such colonialisation, there will be no diversity for those who want to be successful.”
He spoke of the fact that there had always been public opinion and journalists writing about restaurants and books about the most important restaurants were published in the 1980s and 1990s but now the world is changing very fast.
“How do we work out how the algorithms work on your Instagram?” Andoni said it was important to know how the algorithms work but asked whether culture should follow an algorithm. “We have always had algorithms. The food that my grandmother gave me was a decision, a wish by somebody that generates a wish in someone else.”
But, Andoni said, what we like collectively has changed in a massive way. Pointing to his phone he said this was an exercise in narcissism. “This device used to be a phone just a few years ago. Now it is everything else and can also be used as a phone. This device is something that can determine my tastes, my wishes, knows how I feel or what I want. It acts even before I react with my thoughts and wishes.”
“To defeat this imperialism what we need is to be creative and develop intuition and counter intuiting to counter the algorithms. We need to set our own direction,” he concluded.