Members of the Puerto Gastronómico Chef Collective have taken a major step toward fulfilling their goal to make Puerto Escondido a gastronomic destination.
“Puerto Escondido has become a very important destination in Oaxaca and Mexico and, as chefs from the coast, it is essential to stay true to our flavors. You’ve got to have good local cuisine, authentic Oaxacan food and take it to another level, with [good] service and doing things well,” explained the collective’s promoters.
In February a group of chefs came together with a specific mission: turn Puerto Escondido into a gastronomic destination that offers more than sun and sand attractions, something beyond a paradise for surfing, partying and nightlife.
Collective member Quetzalcóatl Zurita explained that after working for almost 10 years at his internationally recognized restaurant Almoraduz, it was time join efforts in favor of Puerto, a goal he set for himself as chairman of the local chapter of the national restaurant organization CANIRAC.
“In Puerto you see locals and foreigners living together, that’s something very cool. It is a destination with a very spiritual vibe that allows you to open up to new insights. In the end, we look for an exchange of learning, techniques and products, from local fishing or chiles, but reinterpreting them,” he said.
This resolve to exchange ways of cooking while reinterpreting them, always based on local ingredients, has led the collective to generate alliances and collaboration ties with suppliers and producers from the coast, as well as the creation of training courses “that improve the quality of the hospitality industry and create support networks that promote the dissemination of local cuisine.”
It was with this idea that the collective debuted with the Puerto Gastronómico Edición Fuego festival, in which four local chefs and five guest counterparts created dishes at Mestiza restaurant on the beach at Playa Agua Blanca, with charcoal and firewood.
This festival, they explained, will serve as a foundation to connect with other culinary events, as well as a link between the academic and private sectors, especially with schools where gastronomic skills are taught.
During the April 1 maiden event, the chefs collaborated with 40 students from the Instituto Universitario de la Costa, UNIREU and the technical preparatory school CONALEP 158, all under the coordination of chef Gladys Daniela Merino Rosaldo, a professor at CONALEP Puerto Escondido.
“This type of practice complements the theory [the students] learn in their classrooms . . . they had the opportunity to be in the kitchen, drinks bar, and customer service areas. This along with working with the nine chefs and the techniques and processes from their own kitchens,” said the organizers.
The collective of chefs has also joined up with the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels in Puerto Escondido, sharing the idea of taking the cuisine of the coast with its aromas, flavors and traditional and contemporary dishes as a reference to elevate Puerto Escondido.
“Given the accelerated growth of the destination, with greater connectivity and larger lodging availability, we will always support initiatives like those of the chefs’ collective and the local CANIRAC,” said the association’s president.
“Creating a gastronomic route and fostering community is a great effort, but when the tide rises, all boats go up,” said Zurita, compelled by the conviction that there are many people betting 100% on gastronomic tourism.
With reports by El Universal