Cod from Iceland Takes Centre Stage in Basque Country
Presentations about cod products from Iceland were recently held at two culinary schools, Escuela de Cocina Luis Irizar and Basque Culinary Center, in San Sebastián/Donostia, Spain. The presentations were organised by Promote Iceland with support from María José Bilbao, consul to Iceland in Bilbao. They are part of Bacalao de Islandia, a marketing project highlighting the qualities of cod from Iceland. The events proved a great success and the school directors expressed their interest in continued collaboration in the future.
Basque Culinary Center is a large and influential culinary school, which was established in 2009, and it is well known throughout Europe for being one of the leading schools in its field. A number of world famous chefs are on the school’s board and have taken part in shaping its curriculum, including Ferran Adriá, Joan Roca and Eneko Atxa. More than 60 students attended the presentation of cod products from Iceland in the school’s main lecture hall. Afterwards, the students could observe a demonstration from Mikel Población, one of Bacalao de Islandia’s “ambassadors” – a chef at the restaurant Etxanobe in Bilbao. Mikel has taken active part in the marketing project, including a trip to Iceland in 2014 when he came to learn more about fishing, processing and food preparation. Mikel is one of those best qualified to present the quality of cod from Iceland.
Luis Irizar is a small, family-run school with 50 students, which is highly respected in the region. After the presentation, star-studded Spanish chef Josemi Olazabalaga, owner of the restaurant Aizian in Bilbao, cooked three courses with the students at the school’s kitchen, with the school’s founder, Luis Irizar himself, in attendance. Josemi has received prizes for his pil-pil dishes (a classic Spanish dish with salted fish), among others.
For the past three years, Bacalao de Islandia has worked strategically with culinary schools in its key markets: Spain, Italy and Portugal. The schools which have been visited by the project’s representatives now number 11. Eight chefs have participated in the project and more than 1,000 students attended presentations about cod products from Iceland. The goal is to reach up-and-coming chefs, present the material, key factors in the quality production and create a positive image of Icelandic origin.