Meet Coral Ayoroa, a La Paz native and key element in the success that Bolivia’s Gustu and Melting Pot Foundation have achieved.  With Bolivia’s Tambo now just two days away, Coral, along with the rest of the team at the restaurant and foudation, as well as the entire city of La Paz, are working hard to ensure that this, the second edition of the country’s national gastronomy festival, gives both natives and visitors a deeper appreciation of the wealth of products that Bolivia has to offer.  Though she’s working hard, we were able to get her to answer a few questions for us as a preview of what’s to come.  When we met her at last month’s Mistura in Lima, alongside Gustu chefs Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari, her energy and passion for the project was captivating.  Read on to find out more.  Then get ready for Tambo, which begins on Wednesday.

Coral Ayoroa

Coral Ayoroa

What is your position at Gustu / Melting Pot?
I began as a Sous Chef at Gustu / Melting Pot, and now I’m in charge of education at the Melting Pot foundation.  Whenever I can, I help out in the kitchen at Gustu.  Being an education coordinator is something that I like a lot because I can give everything I know and have learned to the students.  I can also teach the students to value the wealth of biodiversity and products that Bolivia has to offer.  Also, working at both Gustu and Melting Pot is a constant learning experience, about what high-end cooking means with native Bolivian ingredients.

Have you worked outside of Bolivia?
Yes.  I’ve done various stages.  From September to December of 2011, I staged in Copenhagen at Noma, Meyers Bageri, Meyers Dely, Radio, and Meyers Kokken.  In 2012, I did a stage at Gastón Acurio’s Astrid y Gastón in Lima.  And, earlier this year, I did a stage at Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s Malabar, also in Lima.

How did you get into the position you have now?
Claus Meyer chose four Bolivian chefs, and I was lucky enough to be amongst those four, and to receive training in Denmark.  Claus has taught us to value those products grown in our own country and to take take advantage of the ability to eat healthier.

How long have you worked at Gustu / Melting Pot?
I joined the project in 2011 when we started our training in Denmark.  These have been two marvelous years of learning, which have taught me to have discipline, planning skills, organization and self esteem.  Above all that, these two years have taught me to love what I do.

What exactly is Melting Pot and why is it important to Bolivia?
Melting Pot Bolivia is a non-profit foundation that promotes the economic, social, and sustainable development of the gastronomic and agricultural sectors of Bolivia.  It works by renovating and promoting Bolivia’s national cuisine via social services for the neediest sectors of Bolivia, giving underprivileged youth a chance to take part in Bolivian gastronomy.

What does Tambo mean to Bolivia?
Tambo means a change, learning to value our own products, and the recuperation many of those products that have been lost, that form part of our identity.  It is a gastronomic festival that reflects our history, from its roots, creating bonds between the past, present, and future.  This, then, becomes a reflection of our community and its conservation.  Tambo is the link between cooks, producers, growers, gastronomy students and, more to the point, diners, in order to support our cuisine.

Do you think Bolivian cuisine can become “international”?
Absolutely.  I’m certain that we’ll be an international reference point very soon.

What is your favorite restaurant in La Paz?
Without being pompous, Gustu, because we have learned to value and use our products, Bolivian products, and to transform them into the highest level of cuisine possible.  We want this same philosophy to be imitated in other restaurants throughout the country.

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