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Talking Bolivian Joe With Ely Abel: “It Could Become Extinct, Bolivan Coffee.”

By Patrick Hieger

[Luis Fernandez]

[Luis Fernandez]

When we talk about the gastronomic movement that’s happening in Bolivia, that’s focused on rescuing products and making sure there’s more attention paid to the small producers who have never really stopped producing the exotic products that make Bolivia so rich, it’s easy to focus much of our attention specifically on food, and the culinary side of gastronomy.  But, when the coffee buyer at a restaurant like Gustu tells you that the coffee industry in Bolivia is fading fast and could, theoretically, go extinct, it makes you see that gastronomy, and rescue, involve a much larger picture.

Post Tambo we took the time to catch up with Ely Abel, the impassioned coffee buyer for Gustu and key player in the Melting Pot foundation, to find out more about this industry that’s in need of some serious help.  Just as chefs Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari are focused on bringing the best product into the kitchen at Gustu, Ely wants to make sure that the industry she’s been part of for several years now sticks around, and that the small lot farmers who are the back bone of Bolivian coffee get their time in the sun. 

Like New Nordic Cuisine, The Bolivian Gastronomic Movement Has A Manifesto (ES)

By Patrick Hieger

[Patrick Hieger]

[Patrick Hieger]

When Claus Meyer, who co-owns Noma and co-authored the manifesto for the New Nordic Cuisine, opened Gustu, he didn’t want to just create another award-winning restaurant.  He wanted to change a country.  Because of the continued success that Bolivia’s Gustu has achieved since opening their doors last year in La Paz, it’s easy to forget that behind the restaurant is an entire movement dedicated to improving the local economy, giving local growers and producers a sustainable future, and creating pride in the incredible biodiversity that the country supports.  In fact, there’s an entire manifesto, co-written by Meyer, which states the direct objectives of what Gustu, Melting Pot, and the Danish non-profit Ibis are attempting to do in Bolivia. 

La Paz, Bolivia Has A Delicious New Street Food Tour

By Patrick Hieger

[Suma Phayata]

[Suma Phayata]

What do you do when the man who owns your restaurant comes from Denmark and wants to eat street food when he arrives but, due either to a mishandling of the raw products, or perhaps poor hygiene, he gets sick nearly every time he indulges?  You don’t say no.  You fix the system.

This was the problem facing the chefs at La Paz’s Gustu each time their owner, Claus Meyer, would come for a visit.  As both Gustu chefs Michelangelo and Kamilla tell it, Meyer is a fanatic about the delicacies that can be found hidden in the multi-level street markets and food stalls.  He’s also a fanatic about staying healthy.  So they had to come up with a to let Meyer enjoy the foods that keep him coming back to the streets of La Paz without running a risk of being bedridden on each of his visits.

A Look Back At Tambo, The Culinary Symposium Bolivia Needs

By Patrick Hieger

photo 1 copy
When you’ve traveled internationally, paid a couple hundred dollars for a ticket, and rearranged your schedule to sit in on three days of talks and workshops dedicated to food and pushing the country ahead, it can be disconcerting when the symposium’s first invited speaker starts off by saying that she’s grown tired of symposiums.  “Symposiums have become repetitive,” said Luciana Bianchi, chef and award-winning culinary journalist. Most symposiums repeat the same material, she lamented.

However, Bianchi, in Bolivia for the first time, saw something new, and important.  “This congress has a very special voice,” she said.  A local voice.  A voice that can reach out to the government.  A voice that can create unity, and ultimately strength.  Tambo, as a symposium, had received Bianchi’s seal of approval. It was local, important, necessary.

Last Night Gustu / Melting Pot Graduated Their First Class

By Patrick Hieger

photo 2(26)

It was an emotional evening at La Paz’s Gustu last night. At nearly three years in the making, the first-ever class of Claus Meyer’s Melting Pot foundation graduated, and perhaps no one was happier than Papa Claus himself.  “When I first thought to do this, I didn’t know it was possible,” Meyer said.  But as a dozen students’ parents and relatives, as well as their mentors and friends Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari looked on, everything seemed possible, a massive step in a whole new direction for Bolivia.

As Meyer began his speech, telling of the very long road it took him to end up devoting so much of his time to Bolivia, his team of mentors, chefs, and leaders sat listening, the whole room charged with emotion.  “To see you sitting here graduating, and to come here as a guest in this building that is so full of life, and to see how many people Kamilla and Michelangelo have trained, it is the most important thing I have ever been a part of.”  Although he founded Noma, and continues to be one of the world’s most successful restaurateurs, you could see on Meyer’s face something that went beyond joy, into a territory of satisfaction that even he might have never thought possible.  It seemed that none of the praise for having consistently been ranked the number one restaurant in the world really mattered. He had changed lives, and each of them was looking back with nothing but gratitude. 

Bolivia’s Tambo Returns September 16, 17, 18 (ES)

By Patrick Hieger

[MIGA]

[MIGA]

Now that we’re in full festival season mode, let’s go ahead and add another on top of the already packed list.  For the third year in a row, though in a slightly different format, Melting Pot y Gustu, in association with MIGA, will once again hold Tambo in La Paz.  Unlike past years, this year’s Tambo will be limited to a symposium of recognized chefs, eliminating the food and culture festival portion of the event.  The theme of this year’s symposium will be “Fortifying the Regional Gastronomy Culture through Family Agriculture.” 

Catching Up With The Gustu Chefs, Now In Year Two

By Patrick Hieger

[Gustu / Luis Fernandez]

[Gustu / Luis Fernandez]

With a huge year that started by presenting at Madrid Fusión, a new culinary school in La Paz, and who knows what else in the works, we thought we should take a minute to catch up with Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari, the driving force behind La Paz’s Gustu, the modern Bolivian restaurant that’s now in its second year.  Because both chefs are basically always on the move, opening schools, or knee-deep in training loads of new cooks, we gave them an e-interview just to get an idea of what’s going on.  In the next four weeks, they’ll be in Bogotá, Panama, Lima, and then back home in La Paz for the TAMBO symposium that’s happening in September.  Even amidst all that, they still found time to answer our questions.  Enjoy. 

Get A Hyper Look Inside La Paz’s New Culinary School Manq’a (ES)

By Patrick Hieger

[PICA]

[PICA]

Want a rather unexpected look inside Manq’a, the new school in La Paz for young cooks from the founders of Gustu and Melting Pot?  We’ve got one for you.  Bolivian web series PICA, which looks at trends and news for Bolivian youth, took time to head to the new school to see what Manq’a is all about.  If you can get past the wobbly camera work and hyper kids, you’ll see a room full of eager cooks excited to learn about food and what it could mean for their future.  You’ll also see Coral Ayoroa, who’s responsible for education at Gustu, Melting Pot, and now Manq’a, giving the students a lesson in flavor and technique.  If you haven’t had coffee yet, this a great way to start your morning.