Guzman, the mapuche with icy eyes

The Chilean chef, the chanter of new ingredients and endless ravines, gave one of the most interesting lessons


Rodolfo Guzman, chef at restaurant Boragò in Santiago del Chile, fourth in the World's 50 Best Latina America during his lesson at Identità Milano (photo by Brambilla/Serrani)

One of the most magnetic lessons at Identità Milano 2017 was for sure the one given by Rodolfo Guzman, and not because he captured the dreamy ladies in the audience. For 45 minutes, the young man with icy eyes walked hectically across the few square metres of the stage, aided by beautiful images in the background, slides and landscape views showing off his homeland, Chile, one of the most “vertical” countries in the world, with over 4000 km of coasts.

What we do is look around for what we have, he repeated like a mantra. With an unusual approach as he’s very careful to analyse even the most neglected shrub or the most miniscule edible form of life. «On these mountains we can find all sorts of ingredients. You just need to pay attention».

Most of all, «80% of us has mapuche blood running in their veins and this is a very ancient heritage which we work hard to shed light on». These people were once fighters, first against the Inca then against the conquistadores. These people fought with the same tenacity Guzman uses to enhance the best emblems of this season which they call “pre-spring”: «In this season we have mushrooms that taste like chocolate and some of the sexiest vegetables I’ve ever seen. Great flavours and great textures».

Guzman and his Brulée Gelato

Guzman and his Brulée Gelato

Raw materials that need accurate techniques («I believe you need to practice for 10 years before you’ve really learnt to cut fish») and a strong ethic («We must work hard to take into account every part of a plant or fruit, especially those that appear to have a small edible value»). It’s a world made of lamb grilled for up to 13 hours, a span of time during which «The crust is shaped by the wind». Ecosystems that include even deserts at 2500 metres of altitude, like the beautiful Atacama, where «There are dozens and dozens of plants that were used for millennia and then forgotten».

«A new planet», in other words. Well summarised in a lunar dish, cooked at the end of the lesson: Sandwich of brulée gelato with rose kombucha.