With a recognized career in the gastronomic world, the Zaragoza woman becomes the first woman to preside over the institution
Almost all her life dedicated to gastronomy and she had
never (until now) presided over the Royal Academy
and, although that is not her goal,
Lourdes Plana Bellido
makes history by becoming the first woman to head the institution. .
She replaces Rafael Ansón, who has been its top manager for 40 years.
One fine day, this Zaragoza graduate with a degree in Optics, Optometry and Contactology had the good eye to change instruments and
move on to the world of cooking, where she has done almost everything
: teacher and partner at the Juan Altamiras de Alambique School;
gastronomic popularizer in the press, radio and television;
founding partner and director of the
founder of the Aragonese Academy of Gastronomy (1995);
magazine editor (
, from 1999 to 2003);
co-author of cookbooks (
The good taste of Spain
The challenge of Spanish cuisine
Freshwater fish and something else,
), academic of the Royal Academy of Gastronomy (RAG) ... And it is that more than 20 years dedicated to the universe of gastronomy give to weave some solid wickers.
Curious, creative and hardworking, Lourdes is passionate about cooking, its flavors and aromas, something will have to do with her childhood being memories - with Machado's permission - of Calanda, where she went in summer, and a clear orchard where peaches ripen. , whose smell does not forget.
It was not a surprise because she was the only candidate, but what did it feel like to be unanimously elected president of the Royal Academy of Gastronomy? Unanimity is always gratifying.
There may be discordant voices, that is democracy, and you have to accept them, but it has been the highest
that I remember since I was an academic, 20 years at least.
All but two members voted [online] and could not be located. How did you decide to present yourself?
I had nothing decided but, suddenly, some people from the old board convinced me: I had to present myself yes or yes, she succeeds Rafael Ansón, president for the last 40 years.
Doesn't it make you dizzy? Yes.
He has brought the Academy to where it is.
Now, gastronomy is in fashion and is very socially accepted but, 40 years ago, people did not know what you were talking about.
Fewer years ago, 25, I founded the Aragonese Academy of Gastronomy and already then, when I told my friends that I wanted to create an academy, they told me, is there gastronomy in Aragon?
If that was 25 years ago, imagine how it could have been four decades ago.
Rafael had a lot of merit and since the presidency he has contributed to take Spanish gastronomy to very important levels.
In addition, surely without their efforts and influences it would not be Real.
Of course, the bar is very high and, yes, it makes me dizzy.
But I am hard-working and very optimistic, and I have surrounded myself with a board of very bright people.
We are going to form a great team and we are going to do things, at least try, because that is the first thing that is needed: intention and desire.
Lourdes Plana has been unanimously elected president.
What is the first thing you have done after the election? We did not have time to enter into the matter, on Tuesday we had the first meeting to be constituted, although we have set five goals so that in the next meeting, within a month, let us arrive with our homework prepared and have, for example, the National Awards ... Nor do we have to jump into the pool the next day because, among other things, we all have our jobs.
Then, he will continue to lead Madrid Fusión ... Yes.
Being an academic or president is an honor and a responsibility that you accept, that gratifies you spiritually and emotionally, all academics do it because we like it, but then we have our jobs. What are the objectives and guidelines of your presidency? We want to resume fantastic ideas that were working when I entered and that, little by little, have been leaving;
for example, recover the conferences open to the public, integrate more with all the academics, since sometimes the boards of directors of an association go one way and the academics another.
My idea is that everyone participates, that we really set goals for research, for publishing studies ... And to reach the youngest, who do not know that the Royal Academy of Gastronomy exists.
They do know the RAE, but not the RAG ... Have greater visibility in society physically and online;
Publishing books ... Is it time to modernize it? Yes.
You have to make it more visible and involve society more.
People still think that the Academy is a few friends who get together to eat and no, it is not that.
It is time to change the public vision that we have.
We have not conveyed as well as we should have done.
Be careful, I'm also stuck there, because I've been in the institution for many years.
I think that together we will give it a new air.
We are not going to change it from top to bottom because the Academy is very good and what has been done over the years has been done very well.
We are going to refresh, modernize and give it a more current air, with greater interaction with society. The first woman at the head of the institution.
What have you felt?
Recognition of a life dedicated to gastronomy?
I have felt that I have been dedicated to her for many years and that it does not matter if you are a man or a woman.
I am not one of quotas.
I strongly defend the role of women, it is true that not all of them have had my luck, since I have never encountered great problems for being a woman.
If a man and a woman work the same, they should have the same pay and the same opportunities, having or not having children should not prevent access to managerial positions;
It has always seemed unfair to me.
But I don't like quotas, you have to look at the value, not the quotas. So, more than a female hand, at the Royal Academy we are going to notice the hand of a manager ... Well, yes.
After 20 years at Madrid Fusión and, before as director of a magazine, I believe that management is one of my strengths, that I do not do it wrong.
From left to right: Sesé San Martín, Ignacio Bayón Mariné, Lourdes Plana, José Mª Sanz-Magallón, Carmen Simón Palmer, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo and Cuchita Lluch, part of the new board of directors.
There are many and very good cooks, but men succeed ... Gastronomy is one of the most complicated professions for family conciliation, restaurant hours are disastrous for it.
If you have children and a partner with whom you can coordinate well, you will work perfectly, just as great cooks like Carme Ruscalleda have done, but if you are not that lucky, it is very difficult to succeed.
Women who have families reach high should be given double prizes.
If a man is given one star, a woman would have to give him two directly, because it has cost him double, for sure.
I think that people are realizing this, thanks to the efforts of groups like MEG (Women in Gastronomy), who fight to give them visibility. Because of their trajectory, they know as few the theoretical and practical world of gastronomy, what are the light and which are dark? Spanish gastronomy is great, very rich.
Its combination of quality and diversity of product and diversity and level of cuisine, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, makes it one of the most complete in the world.
And the dark ones?
The moment so tremendous that we are living, the economic impact for the hospitality industry.
We have always had good relations with professional associations and now that they are having such a bad time, it is the worst moment I have ever known.
If they ask us, we will try to help them, to support them, as far as we can. How does an optometrist optician end up in the world of gastronomy? I was working in an important group of opticians and, suddenly, I was involved in a beautiful job but routine for my character, I am much more creative.
I had a break due to pregnancies and in between they invited me to give some cooking classes in Alembique.
I was amused by that world and they offered me to work in a magazine, write articles, from there I went on to do radio and television programs ... I became passionate, because gastronomy hooks you.
It is so beautiful, so playful and there is so much to learn that I thought: I think I am going to stay here. In these turbulent times, is the kitchen returning to its roots? We have never abandoned them.
Fortunately, Spanish gastronomy is tending a lot to local produce, to cooking with what is at hand, and, although they are modern recipes, it is a return to the traditional kitchen.
The kitchen has been updated a lot and has not lost its roots, I am sure it will be many years from now, but how would you like to see your tenure at RAG remembered?
The one about the woman who brought the Academy closer to young people? Yes, for example.
I would love to bring her closer to young people.
I have a son who always tells me: "Mom, no one from my generation knows what the Royal Academy of Gastronomy is."
It pricks me to take action.
And that is a challenge, that young people know that it exists.
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