By Andrew Atkinson

The Alicante Gastronómica fair during September will serve up the largest range of gastronomic national tastes – being the biggest experimental fair in Spain.

The Fair IFA venue during September 24-27 hosts tastings of wines, including many from within the Valencian Community and the Region of Murcia, along with lots of culinary traditions.

There will be Top chefs with Michelin stars from within the province of Alicante while Professional competitions include the XIV Spanish Tortilla Championship, the Best Sommelier in the Valencian Community, the International Prize for Professional Cuisine, the I Professional Seafood Championship, the Best Red Tuna Tartar and Best Steak Tartar and jamon cutters, alongside amateur competitions, including the Best Rice in the Mediterranean.

250 exhibitors will be in attendance in marquees.

Alicante Gastronómica 2021 programme features the Costa Blanca and Central Kitchen; Taste Costa Blanca, Gastronomy and Future;  Heroes with Apron;  the tasting rooms of the Alicante Tasting School, Alicante Gastronomica, the Wine Tunnel and the Drink Lab;  the Laboratory of the Senses; and the D-Gusta Space.

Two main stages, Costa Blanca and Central Kitchen, will showcase leading chefs of the province, including Quique Dacosta (Grupo Quique Dacosta), Kiko Moya (L’Escaleta), José Manuel Miguel (Beat, Calpe), Susi Díaz (La Finca, Elche), Cristina Figueira (El Xato, La Nucía), María José San Román (Monastrell, Alicante), Ferdinando Bernardi, Nazario Cano (Odiseo, Murcia), Mari Carmen Vélez (La Sirena, Petrer), Miquel Ruiz (El Baret de Miquel, Denia), Dani Frías (L´Ereta), Aurora Torres (Lula).

Murcia, being the guest region, will showcase its own international chefs, including Carlos Gaytan (TZUCO, Chicago), Fran Martínez (Maralba, Almansa), Óscar Velasco (Santceloni), Los Hermanos Torres (Cocina Hermanos Torres Restaurant), Miguel Barrera (Cal Paradís, Vall d’Alba, Castellón), Aurelio Morales (Cebo, Madrid), Pablo González (Cabaña Buenavista), Tomá Écija and Cundi Sánchez (El Albero and La Maita), José Cremades (La Palera) and Juan Gui  llamón (Alma Mater).

‘El Rincón de las Estrellas y los Soles’ is a meeting place to be used as a meeting place for both the stars and the public, located in the IFA pavilion 2 restaurant area, with tasting by a variety of local chefs.

The stage, Saborea Costa Blanca, belonging to the Alicante Provincial Council is dedicated to the most characteristic flavours of Costa Blanca, in which the municipalities of the province will offer demonstrations and tastings, along with presentations of gastrotourism experiences.

Saborea Costa Blanca will host a demonstration with a Mediterranean bluefin tuna that Nicolás and Valero/Ricardo Fuentes will perform live, cutting a specimen of about 300 kg.

Many institutions, town councils and associations of hoteliers in the province of Alicante will showcase at their stands.

The stand of the tourist brand of Turisme Comunitat Valenciana, L’exquisit Mediterrani, will have 40 activities, programmed by Molt de Gust, with Alicante City Council paying tribute to rice, with tastings inside of the programming of ‘Alicante, Ciudad del Arroz’.

Elche City Council’s presence highlights dishes and products that distinguish its cuisine with Gastronomy stands including Carmencita, Tescoma, Mercalicante, Visit Elche, Molt de Gust, Murcia Region and the Bakers Association.

Alicante Gastronómica features four tasting rooms, two of them exclusive for wine tasting, in which national and international renowned celebrities including Custodio López Zamarra, Ferran Centelles, referents of the sommelier of Spain;  José Moro, Juantxo Asenjo, Álvaro Domecq, Isaac Muga, Pepe Mendoza, Felipe Gutiérrez de la Vega, Rafael Poveda and David Doñate.

The Fair will also feature the XI Best Sommelier Contest of the Valencian Community, organised by the Federation of Sommelier Associations of the Valencian Community (FASCV). The final will be on September 27 in addition to the tastings organised by the Alicante Tasting School and by Proava.

The 1st Mediterranean Wine Competition ‘Alicante Gastronomica’, the largest event of its kind in the Mediterranean region, will feature a panel of 24 top-level experts from the Valencian Community and Murcia, along with prestigious national tasters, who will decide the best wine from among the many wineries covered by the DO Alicante, Valencia, Utiel-Requena, Yecla, Jumilla, Bullas and the IGP Vinos de Castellón.

The Wine Tunnel will allow the public to discover more than 100 samples from the best wineries in the Valencian Community and Murcia, along with tastings of products including oils, craft beers, spirits, cava, muscatel and cocktails; cheeses, horchata, nougat, coffee, juices, salted fish or ice cream.

The Fair will be the celebration, the highlight of the first day, of the XIV Spanish Championship of Potato Tortilla with the Tescoma Trophy, an event of national status created by Rafael García Santos, famed at the Best of Gastronomy Congress.

The jury will also include Quique Dacosta (3 Michelin stars), Fran Martínez de ‘Maralba’ (2 Michelin stars), Kiko Moya (2 Michelin stars), Paco Torreblanca, José Gómez ‘Joselito’, Pepa Fernández (RNE) and José Ribagorda (T5).

September 27, the day dedicated to professionals, will be held, featuring “The value of sweets by Paco Torreblanca”, with keynote speeches from pastry chefs David Pallás (I am Cacao), Amanda Laporte (“Pastry Stylist” Cooking Channel), Betina Montagne (Pastry Master, Baker and Pastry Chef), Stephani Vastel (Pastry Chef-Pastry Chef-Trainer), Jacob and Sergio Torreblanca (Pastry Chef and Chocolatier), Fran Castell (Confitería el Castell, Elche), Daniel Álvarez (Dalua, Elche), Andrés Mármol (La Gloria, Murcia) and Ginés G. Nicolás (Odiseo, Murcia).