When I grow up, I want to be like Robert de Niro. This is: to have global success working on what I like, investing in restaurants in Manhattan, living hard, having expensive divorces, and when things go wrong for me, that Madrid Fusion invite me to the most spectacular dinner of my life.
It looks like one of those sentimental comedies from Nora ephron or Richard Curtis that triumphed in the 90s: a lot of entanglement, some urban manners, a pinch of morality and a friendly ending. But it’s about, paraphrasing David lynch, of a true story.
The international gastronomy summit Madrid Fusión, which is traditionally held in winter, had to postpone its nineteenth edition this year due to the boom in pandemic after last Christmas. As soon as the vaccines arrived and the situation subsided a bit, the organization marked a new date in the IFEMA calendar: the next days May 31, June 1 and 2. Just after the reappearance of FITUR –which was the first face-to-face fair in Europe after COVID-19–, a spring Madrid Fusion, with all the health precautions, but also with all the magic of seeing the best chefs in the world share their secrets on top of a stage.
Of course, the congress has many incentives, beyond the leitmotif chosen this year: that “circular gastronomy” that refers to the growing involvement of consumers in the sector. They will parade through pavilion 14 of the capital fair complex avant-garde kitchen figures such as Joan Roca, Mauro Colagreco, Davide Caranchini, Flynn McGarry, Ángel León, Joshua Niland or Ricard Camarena, until completing a hundred presentations, with the novelty that this course these interventions can be followed in streaming from anywhere in the world. And there is, in addition, a parallel summit dedicated to the world of wine, baptized as MF The Wine Edition, which will bring internationally renowned winegrowers and sommeliers to the Forum to share their experiences with drinks and snacks, under the sponsorship of the program Wines From Spain of the ICEX.
However, the summit managers did not have them all with them when it came to getting a little media attention, after 18 editions and with which it is falling. To do?
They got in touch with the Spanish subsidiary of Leo Burnett, a prestigious American advertising agency whose successes have traditionally been sustained by creativity closely linked to the everyday, the naturalness of a simple message and the consumer’s identification with the product. In other words, aspirational but close. And the team that leads Gaston Guetmonovitch He had a happy revelation: «We are going to propose to Robert de Niro, through a video broadcast on social networks, that he be the godfather of Madrid Fusión. In the absence of financial resources to face his cache of film star, we will propose a compensation in kind: the most exclusive tasting menu ever dreamed of, prepared by five chefs of planetary fame: Joan Roca, Mauro Colagreco, José Andrés, Quique Dacosta and Martín Berasategui . And you will only have 48 hours to respond.
The idea was worthy of a script by Woody Allen –16 Oscar nominations in that category–, although no one could foresee the final result of the stake. How active is the protagonist of Wild bull (1980)? Could the offer tempt you? Although De Niro is a foodie recognized and a successful hotelier, as a partner –together with Nobu Matsuhisa and Meir Teper– of the Nobu Group (46 restaurants and 13 hotels on five continents), you could well be silent for an answer.
“Robert, you are cooking up an experience,” he was tempted Joan Roca from the kitchen of his restaurant in Gerona in the video produced by Attic Films. “It will feed your body and your soul, not your wallet,” he added. Colagreco from the Mirazur dining room (Menton, France). “You will be the only person on earth who will have tasted the taste of heaven,” he insisted. Jose Andres from his home in Washington DC. “This is something that has never been done,” he stressed. Quique Dacosta from Denia. And the endearing Berasategui he closed the clip from Lasarte (Guipúzcoa) with his usual tagline: “Robert, garrote!”. “Listen to your stomach, not your accountants,” the presentation concluded. Who could resist such flattery?
On Thursday afternoon, at 72 hours of the media frenzy, the creatives of Leo Burnett were already thinking about other Hollywood figures (Tom Hanks, Travolta, Flags…) As plausible alternatives when the actor responded publicly through a short 12-second video in which he announced: «I’m signing up, of course I’m signing up. Thank you Madrid Fusion! See you when I can go there. What a great guy!
In reality, the commitment made does not oblige you to much. You do not have to attend the imminent celebration of Madrid Fusión 2021 and you will only have to provide your image for promotion. Regarding the compensation, the organization will have to combine the agendas of five of the most awarded chefs in the world and a seventh art superstar to organize, at some future date, that priceless dinner from which they will undoubtedly be able to get more revenue -if they agree – in the form of a documentary, book or whatever else can be sold to the general public. Meanwhile, the culinary summit has achieved an exceptional sponsor and an international advertising campaign at a fairly low cost.
For the 77-year-old actor, the matter is almost anecdotal, since he has other open fronts much more worrying. Not only is he convalescing in New York from a accident in which the quadriceps has been broken, while filming in Pawhuska (Oklahoma) the western Killers of the Flower Moon, in company of Leonardo Dicaprio and at the orders of his fetish director Martin Scorsese. Rather, the pandemic has seriously affected his hotel investments and, to top it all, his second divorce, after years of complicated marriage with Grace Hightowerse, is on your way to bankruptcy.
“Although he loves his trade, De Niro should not be forced at his age to work at this frenetic pace to satisfy Mrs. Hightower’s pecuniary demands. I could get sick tomorrow and the party will be over, “said the actor’s lawyer Caroline Krauss.
Without trying to fall into pink journalism, it should be noted that the relationship between good Robert and his ex has always been somewhat difficult: they divorced once, reconciled and remarried –pre-nuptial agreement included–, but today they cross accusations of domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse before a New York court. In the background of the fight, a mansion valued at 5.5 million, an annual pension of one million dollars and, above all, the request to keep a share in the profits of the 35 companies owned by the actor or to take a part of his personal fortune, which the jilted wife estimated at 500 million.
With all those messes on top, this unquestionable icon of several generations, Legendary film star What Taxi Driver (1976), The Godfather 2 (1974), The hunter (1978), One of ours (1990) or casino (1995), you still have time to revel in gastronomy. I imagine him salivating while he thinks about the menu of Roca, Colagreco and company, perhaps by calling Harvey Keitel Or some other colleague from Tribeca and saying, “Hey man, it’s all worth it, but I’ve been invited to an evening in Madrid with five of the best chefs in the world. In principle, it’s just for me, but maybe they’ll let me bring someone. You sign up? We will call Pacino, to Pesci, to Christopher Walken and the rest of the gang. We will go by private jet and have a great time. It will be like old times! Can not be more cool…