The presence of cooking directly over a fire and over live coals is becoming consolidated as a technique in haute cuisine. When it’s done right it gives excellent results, and at the same time demonstrates mastery and understanding of the different ways of cooking a single product. Although it may seem that cooking over an open fire is a primitive phase we should have left behind, and that cooking can only move forwards towards chemistry and the dissection of elements, the truth is that the oldest technique for cooking food still has some mileage in it. This is how Fine Dining Lovers sees it, having positioned this technique in first place as one of the gastronomic trends of 2016.
Cooking over an open fire requires finesse, as the difficulty of this technique lies in taking a seemingly rustic process and improving it and making it more sophisticated. This is why we have to take various factors into account, like for example the type of firewood used, the moistness of the wood itself, the type of coal, the power of direct and indirect fire, etc. It’s not simply a case of playing with fire and only following your intuition but rather of having the necessary understanding of this technique and paying attention to every detail to get the perfect level of cooking, colour, smell, marking and taste.
Some of those using it are, for example, chef David Muñoz, a recognised fan of the flames and power of fire, who serves barbecued baby squid with emulsified sweetcorn, buffalo milk butter and tandoori spices at StreetXo. Chef Gaston Acurio opened Los Valientes” (Mexico) a couple of years ago, a restaurant specialising in barbecue and grill. Another example is the restaurant Hunk (rated the USA’s best restaurant in 2011 by the magazine “Bon appétit”) and run by chef Sean Brock. The Virginia-born chef has traditional Southern cuisine in his genes, so an essential element in his kitchen is fire and coals. Chef Ryder Zetts -ex head chef of the restaurant Solbar (California) with one Michelin star- is also reclaiming the use of more food products beyond the inevitable association of grills with meat. For him, the taste of vegetables cooked using this technique has a whole horizon to be discovered and worked with.