As it turns out, the answer is simple: vegetables. Having, I guess, exhausted the protein as an area of exploration, they've turned to the sides for inspiration. And they find it.
“Diners tend to idealize luxury proteins,” he said. “But in our globalized world, those have become nothing more than empty status symbols.” Wagyu beef is shipped in from Japan, lobster from Ireland. Local vegetables, on the other hand, retain their personality, their connections to terroir and to the farmer. “Isn’t that the ultimate luxury?” [San Sebastian chef Andoni Luis] Aduriz mused.
It's a cool article, using one topic to neatly showcase the differences between chefs that share a region. Between the chefs interviewed, there are three different approaches to reinvigorating vegetables. Some focus on the breeding of the vegetables, manipulating their genetics to form something new, yet familiar. Not surprisingly, some are all about technique, pulling from Spain's molecular tradition to serve something cool. And some take the Ratatouille approach, reinventing and elevating classical preparations.
All are inspiring, and after reading the article, it was easy to think a little differently about what the "center of the plate" can be.