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Jonas Andersen, General Manager

Talking Bolivian Altitude Wines With Gustu’s Jonas Andersen

Jonas Andersen is the restaurant and wine program manager at Gustu in La Paz, Bolivia.  He hails from Copenhagen, but has been living in La Paz for the last year, learning about Bolivian cuisine and wines alongside chefs Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari.  As the three have seen, and as guests at next week’s 2nd Feria Tambo in La Paz will see, there is a great deal of undiscovered knowledge to be learned from Bolivia.  For Jonas, the wines have helped to change his mind entirely about standard growing practices.  Read up to get a taste of what could be the next big thing. 

By: Jonas Andersen

Jonas Andersen, General Manager

Jonas Andersen, General Manager

I’ve been down here for nearly a year now, and it took me around four months to gather contacts for all producers. Bolivia has around 2.700 hectares under vine, and most are located in Tarija and Camargo.  In Tarija the vineyards are located between 1700 and 2400 meters above sea level. Camargo (in the Cinti region) is all the way up to 3100 meters above sea level.  Samaipata is the third and smallest region. I only know of 2 wineries there, and a handful growers. They are growing in around 1750 meters above sea level.   So Bolivia is taking the concept of altitude wine to the extreme.

The effect of altitude is: 1. Dramatic temperature variations from night and day, meaning that the plant is consuming (respiration) a lot of the sugar it has been producing (photosynthesis) during the day because of cold nights. This extends the ripening time by up to several months, giving the berries a much higher development of phenolic compounds. 2. Being closer to the sun gives a more intense UV radiation also leading to higher development of phenolic compounds.

Bolivian white wines are, generally speaking, more aromatic on tropical fruit and flowers.  The white plantings include Moscatel de Alejandría (Singani and white table wine), Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Franc Colombard. Bolivian reds are bigger in texture, more spicy, and heavier in tannins.   The red plantings include Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Tannat, Barbera, Tempranillo, Grenach, Alfonso La Valle, Black Criolla and Misionera.

Many of these varietals go straight into table wine. I’m starting to work with different wineries to make us single varietals for next year’s harvest.  Next year I’ll be getting a straight Barbera from Bodega Kohlberg, and more from other wineries. It’s fairly easy to collaborate with the small producers who only can make 150 bottles of a single varietal.

The first grape plantings were in the 15th century by Spanish and Portuguese traders. The first vine cuttings were taken to Cinti and to Tarija in 1606 and to Samaipata in 1618. Now there are 33 active wineries in Bolivia, and the Bolivian wine sector provides 5000 direct jobs and 11,000 indirect jobs.

Most wine production back then was made for Singani (The Bolivian Eau-de-Vie), and was mostly consumed by miners. Singani is distilled wine of Moscat de Alenjandría.  It’s a very floral distillate and very true to the base wine. It’s just in the last few years that the upper class is starting to recognize Singani as a quality product and something not just for poor Bolivians.

There is still a massive gap between the big producers and the small producers. The small producers in Cinti have a massive potential, and many of them are producing less than 1000 bottles annually. Most of the small producers are still selling of all their wine in the villages in Cinti.

I’m trying to start a program with another organization to get the big producers in Tarija to “mentor” the small producers in Camargo. The small producers need help in all areas, and the big producers need to help in the process of lifting the Bolivian wine sector. I’m hoping to start this program in 2014.

CBI (Center for the promotion of import from developing countries), a part of the Dutch development aid, have just approved an export program in Bolivia. They will work on the establishment of Wines Of Bolivia as well.

The best way for me to describe Bolivian wines overall, is that nothing is was you expects it to be. I kinda had to forget all my ideas of what different varietals are supposed to be like. And that’s what makes Bolivian wines interesting. When you can surrender and accept that this is a new world of wines, then you can start appreciating the unique and diverse wines from Bolivia.

[photo: Gustu]

Claus Meyer On Gustu: “We have no reason to be pessimistic”

[photo: Gustu]

[photo: Gustu]

With his most ambitious project to date now open, Claus Meyer, co-owner of Noma, Bolivia’s Gustu and, now, The Standard, his Copenhagen multiplex of fine-dining and jazz, talked to Eater about the new project, as well as what’s happening in Bolivia.  Having only opened Gustu less than six months ago, and The Melting Pot prior to that, it’s impressive that the Dane even had the time to consider opening something as massive as The Standard on the other side of the globe.  True to form, though, the complex that includes two restaurants and a fully functioning jazz club opened right on schedule, and seemingly without a hitch.  “We are very happy with the opening. I had a feeling that we started so close to what we wanted to be. So I think that we had a very fine start indeed,” Meyer said.

As for Gustu, Meyer seems to be happy with its progress as well.  When compared to Noma, which he says was “a nightmare” in its first year, Gustu seems to coming along quite nicely.  A recent article in Food & Wine magazine said the restaurant could very well be the best restaurant in the world.  Meyer says, despite a slow welcome early on from locals, “[they] have no reason to be pessimistic.”  Danish precision.  Bolivian heritage.  Nothing could possibly go wrong.  [via Eater]

[image: Tambo]

The Lineup For Tambo’s International Symposium

[image: Tambo]

[image: Tambo]

The lineup for Tambo’s second International Symposium of Gastronomy and Biodiversity is up and it looks pretty incredible.  Everyone from famed Peruvian chefs Virgilio Martinez and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, to Mexico’s Emilio Macías and even director Mauricio Acuña of Ecuador’s culinary symposium, Espai-Epicur, that’s taking place this week, will be there.  Spanish-cum-Peruvian gastro-journalist Ignacio Medina will also be on hand to talk.  Although the lineup shows that Rodolfo Guzmán of Chile’s Boragó will be on hand, word has it that it will actually be his sous chef, Tommy de Olarte, giving a presentation.

The purpose of the symposium will be to highlight the importance that biodiversity and sustainability play in modern gastronomy.  Given that TAMBO’s main goal is to highlight the wide variety of products and foodstuffs that Bolivia has available, the topic is now more important than ever as the nation looks to get behind its own gastronomy as a means of national growth.  Having widely-acclaimed international chefs along to further this message will certainly help the cause.

TAMBO’s symposium will take place from October 17 to 19.  Entry to the event is Bs. 200 (approx. $28 US).  Aside from the international chefs, there will be Bolivian chefs and culinary experts, nutritionists and other journalists discussing biodiversity.  We’ll see you there.

 

[image: Gustu]

Catching Up With The Chefs From Bolivia’s Gustu

By: Patrick Hieger

[photo: Gustu]

[photo: Gustu]

[photo: Gustu]

[photo: Gustu]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
With Bolivia’s largest food festival, Tambo, just two weeks away, I thought it was the perfect time to catch up with the chefs from Gustu, the new Bolivian restaurant owned by Claus Meyer, co-owner of Denmark’s Noma.  I had the pleasure of spending time and eating with chefs Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari during last month’s Mistura in Peru, during which I got a taste of their energy for the restaurant, Bolivian cuisine, and where it could all lead.  Though both have worked in acclaimed European kitchens like Mugaritz, Geist and Relœ, they seem to have hit their groove in what is, for all intents and purposes, the first Bolivian restaurant to gain international attention.

Post-Mistura, I wanted to recapture a bit of the energy and excitement with which both spoke about being in Bolivia and how Gustu is coming along.  They’re both extremely busy, but I did manage to get them to answer a few questions for me.  Below, read the interview.  Then get your tickets to Bolivia and get ready to celebrate the second edition of Tambo, that’s just two weeks away.

Where are you from?
[Kamilla] is from Denmark.  [Michelangelo] is from Venezuela.  [Jonas], the restaurant’s general manager,  is from Denmark as well.

How did you get hired to work in Bolivia / at Gustu?
By being awesome.   Then, by mouth to mouth recommendations and then a call from Claus asking how we felt about Bolivia.

Is Gustu just a restaurant, or is there a bigger goal in mind?
GUSTU is much more than just a restaurant.   The whole idea started with a food school for underprivileged youngsters.  Then where should they practice? Let’s do a restaurant where they can practice.  Let’s do a great flagship restaurant representing Bolivia, only using local produce, wines, liquors and furniture, decoration etc.  This is all through the Melting Pot Bolivia Foundation that focuses on gastronomically-related projects to improve the world through food.  All income at GUSTU goes to Melting Pot directly, so it’s like a delicious way of donating money to projects that secure a future for the local producer, a salary for an apprentice or putting a local winemaker on the map.

What do you think of Bolivian cuisine?
It is personal, since every region is different and proud of their local produce.  The salteña, zonzo, tucamana, sandwich de cholita and masaco are all types of excellent street food and could easily become world famous.

What are the biggest challenges in doing high-end food in a country like Bolivia?
There are many challenges that were expected, lack of infrastructure, difficulty in getting to the producers and dodgy hygiene standards.  Then also taking into consideration the altitude, where water boils at 86 degrees and a humidity of 0, so all bread recipes that you gather throughout your career rcan basically be thrown out.


What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve encountered?
Where to begin?  Pacay is a funky cotton candy/watermelon tasting bean looking fruit. Tumbo is the beautiful cousin to passion fruit. Chuño, the dehydrated potato, is fascinating because the technique is thousands of years old.

How is Gustu involved in Tambo? 
GUSTU, through Melting Pot Bolivia, is responsible for the content of the symposium and general logistics of the whole fair.

Do you think Bolivia can become a culinary destination?
It should be already, but yes, in the future the gastronomy will be part of the visits to the salt flats, Camino de Muerte, Amazonas and everything else Bolivia has to offer.

If someone is coming to La Paz for the first time, where should they eat aside from Gustu? 
They should try local restaurants like El Vagon del Sur for traditional dishes, Pampa y Rio, which brings in fresh fish from the Amazon everyday, Madame Olupica, working with a fusion of classic dishes, and Red Monkey, a beautiful vegan restaurant producing their own greens in their garden.  And, of course, the street food, but recommended places.
Kamilla Seidler, Head Chef

Kamilla Seidler, Head Chef

Michelangelo Cestari, Chef

Michelangelo Cestari, Chef

Jonas Andersen, General Manager
Jonas Andersen, General Manager