Writing a new Chile: Rodolfo Guzman’s lesson at Alma

Topic moments and all the dishes from the lesson in Colorno given by the chef from Boragò in Santiago

Rodolfo Guzman, chef at restaurant Boragò in Sa

Rodolfo Guzman, chef at restaurant Boragò in Santiago del Chile, who was at Alma, in Colorno (Parma) last month

Chile, a very long strip of land divided into the Andes, the desert and subtropical regions and finally the Pacific Ocean, ending in the Tierra del Fuego. This is where, after years of research and efforts, Rodolfo Guzman has finally become a prophet in his own country. For the first time in Italy, the Chilean chef from restaurant Boragò in Santiago del Chile gave a lecture at Alma to some 80 students.

«When I started this career 20 years ago, I had plenty of dreams which as soon as I started to work gave way to disillusion». Everything changed in 2001, when a friend told him: «Have you seen what’s going on in Spain? It’s becoming the new France!». So he decided to cross the Atlantic Ocean, bound to the Iberian peninsula, which was a crucial step in his career, culminating at Mugaritz with Andoni Luis Aduriz.

Back in Chile, disillusion turned into a real possibility: give people something significant to eat. «Nobody was speaking of going to Chile for Chilean cuisine, contrary to what was happening in other Latin-American countries. This is because there was a fundamental issue: for Chileans, local ingredients were ordinary, they were meant for poor people. High quality was imported. What they did not understand, however, is that Chile is one of the largest endemic basins on planet Earth, a rough diamond yet to be refined. This was exactly the idea from which Boragòwas born: cooking only with local ingredients. It wasn’t easy at first, but we managed to convince Chileans that it’s nature that establishes the quality of a product, not man».

So an adventure of discovery of the area, a sensational period of learning, along 4,000 km, began. «We searched and categorised hundreds of raw materials, studying their features and uses, both past and present. Every ingredient meant an opportunity for us, so we couldn’t miss it! Without even realising it, we started to build a gastronomic encyclopaedia, and it was almost a necessity, because before us, nobody had ever done something similar».

Before starting a technical demonstration of his cuisine, some other gems for the audience: «When we opened the restaurant, I asked myself something I want to ask you: when did we stop getting to know our suppliers? If we want to be truly original, we have to learn once again, to understand that our cuisine should not be based only on technique, but most of all on territory. At the same time, if you represent a 4,000 km long territory, it’s not possible to be completely sustainable. However, spreading this culture is so important that we feel the need to offer all the territory in our dishes, in the most tasty and sustainable way».

Boragò is not a concept, it’s the prosecution of something, of a process. We haven’t invented a single thing, we’re continuing what the Mapuchepeople did. We look back in order to move ahead, to evolve. This is Boragò. And here are the dishes that enriched the lesson.

Calendulas a la Van Gogh y bladder con morillas
 (ocean seaweed) used as a bladder, filled with porcini, butter with sea weeds, lemon thyme and preserved lemons. The seaweed is sealed, keeping all the steam inside, which serves to cook the ingredients as if it were an oven. In the bowl, they serve the roasted calendula with a sauce of carrots and cauliflower. There’s broth of Lacto Loyo (a Chilean mushrooms) in the sauce boat.

Pastel de cigala, rock puré e caldo de kolof
Scampi with a sauce made with the heads, wrapped in beet and covered in rock puré (broad beans, onions, pepper, squid ink and spices). The broth made with kolof seaweed surrounds the rock, coloured with leaves of a fat plant.

Pato añejado en cera de abejas con hojas de ciruelo marchitas en miso-murra
Duck matured in bees’ wax, the breast is then roasted and cut very thin. Underneath, a miso of murra (a blackberry from Patagonia), on top, fermented leaves of red prune.

Ice brulee de plantas del desierto de Atacama
Two desserts that tell the story of the desert of Atacama. Left, an interpretation of creme brûlée on a piece of ice covering kefir yogurt, a jelly made with desert strawberries and a bitter of tola tola (a wild fruit). In the desert of Atacama, at 4000m above sea level, it rarely rains, but when it does, new species appear for a few weeks. Among them, the rosa del año featured in the ice cream sandwich to the right with cachiyuyo.

Patagonia lamb with cabbage mille-feuille and liquidambar
He didn’t cook this dish but showed it in a video. The process is the other way round, with the head above, at first, and a very low temperature. They brush the animal with a mix of oil, vinegar and wild leaves only on the inside. They gradually lift the animal. Then they start to brush it with its fat while raising the cruz and the temperature.  «In the end, it will cook for 12/13 hours, instead of the typical 7/8. We’ll never get it off the menu because it’s something very deep, something that must be tried and now people expect to taste it. We can change everything else, but cordero will always stay in the menu». 

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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Andrea Vignali


Andrea Vignali

he travels to eat, and eats to travel, telling stories about the things that stimulate his taste buds and his tiny grey cells.

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