Culinary Inspiration from 3 of South America’s Best Chefs
If you’ve never visited South America, we recommend adding it to the top of your list. From the majestic mountains of Machu Picchu ⛰ to the sites and sounds of Buenos Aires ?? to the glittering beaches of Rio ⛱, you could take ten trips and never soak it all in!
One huge part of South American culture, like any other, is the food. It’s as diverse as you’d expect with Native American, African, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and South Asian flavors woven throughout many traditional dishes.
South America’s most exciting chefs are taking traditional flavors in so many new directions. We’d love to introduce you to a few of them.
GONZALO ARAMBURU ・ Argentina ??
Chef Aramburu cooked around the world before returning to Buenos Aires to open the modern Argentinian restaurant, Aramburu. Guests come hungry and leave happy after indulging in a 12-course tasting menu that changes with the seasons.
“We are always changing what we do, investigating a lot…It’s a bit of a contradiction because we have a permanent 12 step menu during the year, but at the same time it’s not fixed at all because it mutates all the time depending on the availability of produce or our renovations,” he told Around The Hob.
From suckling pig with squash puree to filet mignon with Andean tubers to black hake with cauliflower, Chef Aramburu’s style is the perfect example of how you can take simple, fresh ingredients and transform them into dishes that are simply transcendent.
So, if you’re a newbie who’s interested in trying more South American cooking, experimentation is the name of the game! You don’t need to be formally trained to try many of these recipes. You may never open a restaurant, but we can pretty much guarantee your family will be happy to try your attempts at authentic South American fare.
ALEX ATALA ・ Brazil ??
He’s been called the most influential chef in the world, but Sao Paolo-based chef Alex Atala has some surprisingly simple philosophies on success in and out of the kitchen. An “accidental chef” himself, Atala took a cooking course to extend his visa while working construction in Belgium and never looked back.
Today, Atala focuses on delivering the heart and soul of Brazil in every plate he serves. The Daily Meal calls the food at D.O.M. “unmistakably Brazilian” using ingredients like Chibé, a manioc flour mush eaten by native Amazon tribes, salt cod and Brazil nut milk.
He advises that it’s important to get creative in the kitchen. “Creativity is not to do what nobody else does. It’s to do something everyone knows but nobody expects.”
We simply couldn’t agree more. When you’re cooking, don’t be afraid to deviate from your recipe here and there. It’s not like baking where everything has to be precise. You can discover some really exciting flavor profiles by swapping out one ingredient for another. Have a little fun in the kitchen!
LEONOR ESPINOSA ・ Colombia ??
Winner of Latin America’s Best Female Chef for 2017, Leonor Espinosa prides herself on sharing the history of Colombia through her food, not just from a culinary perspective but also through an economic and social lens.
“I believe the eyes of the world are on Latin America,” she recently told Eater Magazine. “Colombia, with all its biodiversity and heritage is plunging into a critical time of discovering itself.”
From fermented coca leaves to big bottomed ants, Espinosa challenges herself to feature Colombian ingredients in an effort to elevate Colombian cuisine in the eyes of foodies all over the world.
“The best way to create a new recipe is through experiencing the product in the territory it comes from and embracing the culture that cultivates it.”
While a South American culinary adventure may not be in the cards for you any time soon (although if it is, take us with you!), consider a cooking class in a cuisine you’d like to learn more about. There are also some fantastic options like A Cook Abroad and Chef’s Table that can immerse you in cooking all over the world.
We hope these three amazing chefs inspired you to try something new this week! Feeling creative but still don’t know where to start? Check out our recipe catalog for different takes on South America’s favorite snack ?