The sea was brought a little closer to the Spanish capital this week thanks to a number of Malaga chefs at the Madrid Fusión gastronomical conference which concluded on Wednesday.
José Carlos García and Diego Gallegos, whose restaurants (JCG Restaurante and Sollo) boast Michelin stars, as well as the Vincci Posada del Patio hotel's executive chef, Sergio Garrido, brought a snippet of the Mediterranean, boat included, with a cooking demonstration with which the Sabor a Málaga brand hoped to promote 'espetos' (sardines grilled on a stick) and other fish which make up a large part of the diet on the south coast.
This brought the curtain down on the three-day congress which united gastronomic experts and enthusiasts from around the world.
Throughout the course of the congress, a number of awards were given out. Several accolades went the way of the Benahavís Sabor a Málaga catering school, the first going to Raquel García. After giving up her studies to become a teacher, Raquel is now studying at the catering school 'Escuela de Hostelería de Benahavís Sabor a Málaga'.
Her decision has paid off and on Monday she won the Signature Sandwich competition with a version of the traditional calamari sandwich, using garlic mayonnaise made with squid ink; grilled, shredded calamari; tomato marinade and seaweed salad, all tucked inside a typical burger bun. The juicy texture and balanced flavours won over the judges which included Elena Arzak (from the triple Michelin-starred restaurant Arzak) and Javier Estévez (La Tasquería, 'chef revelación' from Madrid Fusión 2016)
This is not the first time that the 20-year-old chef from San Pedro de Alcántara has won a prize. She came first in the catering schools of Andalucía competition and second in the MalagaCrea and MarbellaCrea competitions. However, the award on Monday was a major step forward.
"It is hugely motivating," she said excitedl, shortly after the contest in which a hundred chefs from all over Spain competed. Only six made it through to the final. But Raquel García was clear from the beginning. If she wanted to go to Madrid, she had to do it with something characteristic of Malaga.
In second came a pancetta burger with marinated onions by Rodrigo Gallego (Cos bar, Santander) and in third place was an unusual pairing of spicy red sausage and banana from Eduardo Pelayo from Tenerife.
The second student from the Benahavís catering school to recognised was Marta Ghigliotti who came second in the 'Panini Negrini' category with her bread cannelloni with pork knuckle.
These two students weren't the only ones from Malaga competing at the congress. Javier Hernández (Candado Golf) took part in the tapas design contest; Carmen Romero (La Ménsula) in the beer pouring.