Photo: Javier Bardem
The queen of Spain presented the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute’s gold medal to Spaniards Ferran Adria and Javier Bardem, as well as to Peruvian photographer Mario Testino, during the organization’s annual gala in New York at which former U.S. President Bill Clinton was present as a speaker and invited guest.
The president of the institute, Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta, received from Queen Sofia the Great Order of Civil Merit that King Juan Carlos had awarded to him in February.
Clinton, in his speech at the event, emphasized the “great friendship” between himself and the Spanish royal couple, and he recalled his first official visit to the Iberian nation in July 1997 and emphasized that “Spain is making a difference” with its efforts to “preserve the Spanish culture and language in a positive way.”
The queen, meanwhile, emphasized that the gold medals are presented to exemplary people who personally promote the cultural connection between Spain and Ibero-America and who represent different sectors such as diplomacy, science, business, literature, sports, philanthropy or art.
She also noted the importance of presenting the awards in New York, “a city which is a melting pot of cultures, and which represents the strength and richness of the links uniting Spain and the United States.”
On this occasion, the institute - founded in 1954 - decided to honor the proprietor of the famous El Bulli restaurant, Ferran Adria, and to recognize his career as a chef and restauranteur as well as the experimental techniques he uses in his work.
“This is a recognition of all Spanish cooking, and not only of Ferran Adria,” said the Spanish chef upon receiving the gold medal, going on to emphasize that the chefs of his country had become collectively a world reference point and saying that “everyone is looking to Spain.”
“I thank the queen of Spain for this recognition over and above my well-known opinion about the monarchy,” said Bardem after receiving his award, adding that he felt “proud to be from a country with so many different places and colors.”
The third person honored at the gala was Peru’s Mario Testino, the creator of many fashion magazine covers and iconic photographic portraits such as those he made of Britain’s late Princess Diana.