Meet the Spanish biologists turning foraging into fine art

Meet the Spanish biologists turning foraging into fine art

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Combining scientific principles with artistic creativity is key to creating delicious food. In Spain, a chef with a background in biology is transforming the culinary scene by incorporating his knowledge of botany.

Трубочисты Петербурга

Kike Gallardo is on a unique culinary mission to reconnect people with mother nature’s kitchen in the wild. He wants to share his passion for locally grown plants and ecosystems with food lovers.

The birth of The Edible Herbarium

It was while studying biology at university, Kike discovered that many of the plants and flowers that grow in the wild were edible and delicious.

Kike says wild plants help us feel connected to the place where we livePedro Roman

«Wild plants connect us to the environment in which we live,» Kike tells SCENES. «Once you know and feel what’s around, at that moment, you’ll fall in love and want to preserve it,» he adds.

Kike was working as a chef in renowned restaurants when he found that some of the ingredients used were plants he had previously studied. This discovery sparked an idea in his mind. «I had the idea of creating a dish out of edible paper,» Kike recalls.

Kike’s creativity led to the creation of an educational project aimed at sharing his knowledge of edible plants, «I started organising some private dinners to expand fine cooking,» he says.

Kike created The Edible Hermarium, an educational endeavour to share his edible plant expertiseKike Gallardo

The ultimate team

It was during one of these private dinners that Kike met Daniel Bustillo, a biologist and skilled illustrator. Kike invited Daniel to join him in his quest to blend science with art and gastronomy.

«I met Kike 14 years ago when I moved to Madrid to study biology,» says Daniel. «He told me about this project, The Edible Herbarium, and he convinced me,» he adds.

Daniel was at one of Kike’s private culinary dinners, when Kike convinced him to join his projectPedro Roman

Daniel’s artwork gives students a visual reference for the plants they will research.

«I’m in charge of the illustrative area. I do illustrations of all the plants we teach about at our talks and events,» explains Daniel. «The objective is to represent the plant as reliably and as faithfully as possible,» he adds.

Outdoor adventures

Kike and Daniel also offer botany-focused retreats. Mixing outdoor activities with artistic and cooking elements has made people feel more connected to nature, increasing knowledge and interest in the plants around them.

«We went on a short hike, stopping every so often to observe plants and to learn about them,» says excursion participant Carolina Zurro. Paula Filgueiro, another participant, added, «I tasted a type of rumex plant. I’ve never tried it before. It was very sour. I’d never heard of it before.»

Kike and Daniel offer botanical getaways combining art, cuisine and outdoor activitiesPedro Roman

After tasting the rumex plant, Paula chose to draw it. «I chose to illustrate this rumex plant because I found it very strange,» she says.

Carolina, on the other hand, chose to illustrate other plants. She says, «I jotted down some edible plants like the navelwort, which is small and round, and the stinging nettles, which I also didn’t know were edible.»

Kike enjoys the challenge of finding and celebrating natural flavours and textures. His ambition is to take participants on a food journey where they are amazed by plants they’ve never tasted.

«It’s about making people come to the countryside to say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know this plant was edible,'» Kike says.

Engaging tasting events

Kike and Daniel have shared their expertise at culinary schools and other educational outlets and have been invited to attend food shows and cooking groups.

The food that Kike and Daniel make uses only plant-based ingredientsPedro Roman

The duo educate people on incorporating botany into their recipes. Their events include everything from thought-provoking art shows to interactive tasting sessions that add a delicious twist to the attendees’ culinary experience.

Through his talks and retreats, Kike aims to spark curiosity and respect for the environment.

«In one of the activities we recently organised, a parent approached me and said, ‘Kike, now my kid eats plants and vegetables and fruit without asking why.’ That’s beautiful.» recalls Kike.

Kike hopes his project will connect people to nature and offer new flavours and plants to their dietsPedro Roman

Appreciating nature

The Edible Herbarium is on a mission to save the earth and teach people how to enjoy and value it. They want to encourage their students and guests to feel closer to nature and to introduce new flavours and edible plants to people’s diets.

Kike’s vision isn’t just about food. It’s about creating an experience beyond what’s on the plate. It’s about getting people excited to see the outdoors in a whole new way.

Additional sources • Mohamed Elashi


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