The wealth of Latin American manifestations stands out in many areas, gastronomy being one of the most obvious. Get up to speed and meet the Latino chefs who are currently exalting the flavors of their countries of origin.
The best chefs in Latin America have not only contributed something special to the gastronomic industry of their countries, but have gone further, achieving a positive impact on the communities where they operate.
This is just a small sample of a long list of extraordinary chefs who have managed to express the Latin essence in their meals in an exceptional way.
1. Narda Lepes
The best chef in Latin America 2020, according to Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants is of Argentine origin. We’re talking about Narda Lepes and her gastronomic proposal that focuses on plants, inspiring appreciation for fresh ingredients and favoring local crops.
Narda began to build her experience in the world of gastronomy at the Hotel Presidente in Buenos Aires in 1992. After three years, she traveled to France to do internships in the prestigious kitchens of Joel Robuchon and Gerard Foucher.
Upon returning to Argentina, the Morizono restaurant gave her a chance to experience Japanese cuisine. From there she became an entrepreneur and together with several friends she opened the Zen Club, the Ono San and La Corte.
In 1999, the Argentine chef appeared on television as a host of shows on the El Gourmet channels and later on Fox’s Utilísima. Additionally, Narda has written 3 books of which “Eating and having a good time” won the Gourmand World Cookbook award in Paris, award for best cookbook by a television celebrity.
As if that were not enough, this Latin chef has conquered the palates of artists and musical bands such as Robbie Williams, Neil Young, Aerosmith, Santana, The Doors, Ricky Martin, Ozzy Osbourne, REM, Beck, Oasis and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, through her private catering services.
Narda Lepes undoubtedly works to highlight the identity of Argentine gastronomy. She is a member of the Association of Cooks and Entrepreneurs Linked to Argentine Gastronomy (ACELGA), who organize the MASTICAR Fair.
Additionally, Lepes fosters the community by inviting local chefs to its kitchen. On the other hand, she also promotes inclusion by employing and training women over 60 at her Narda Comedor Diario restaurant.
2. Carlos Gaytán
He is the first Mexican to earn a Michelin star, and his Chicago-based restaurant Tzuco was nominated for Best New Restaurant at the 2020 James Beard Awards.
Carlos Gaytán began washing dishes at the Sheraton Milwaukee North Shore when he was 20 years old. Little by little he got to know different stalls and his visit to various establishments allowed him to learn about French cuisine.
His first restaurant was Mexique, later in 2017 he opened Ha at the Xcare Hotel in the Riviera Maya. But it was at the end of 2019 that he inaugurated Tzuco where Gaytán tells his story through food, evoking the flavors of his homeland using French techniques.
But among his projects there is not only opening restaurants, he also has in mind to create a center to teach migrants to cook. Contributing to the growth of people is part of his purpose.
Another interesting fact is that Gaytán is very active on social networks, but it is on Instagram where he stands out the most. This digital window has been an important meeting place with his followers, where he shares recipes and advice.
Carlos has definitely achieved what he once set out to do: shake diners with the magic behind each dish and make the name of his country resonate.
3. Mitsuharu Tsumura
Better known as Micha, Mitsuharu Tsumura is currently an important reference in Nikkei cuisine and his Maido establishment has been crowned the best restaurant in Latin America for 3 consecutive years, until 2019.
Micha has masterfully combined the mix of cultures inherited from his parents. Although he is 100% Peruvian, he has a strong Japanese influence that was installed in his taste memory since he was a child.
His penchant for cooking was evident from childhood as he helped prepare the week’s meal for the whole family. His father offered his support so that he could dedicate himself to gastronomy with only one condition, that he should train professionally.
This is how Micha studied Culinary Arts and Food and Beverage Administration at Johnson & Wales University, in the United States. Upon completing his academic preparation, he spent a couple of years in Japan specializing in sushi and Japanese tapas.
Upon returning to Peru, he served as Head of Departure, Sous Chef and Food and Beverage Manager of the Sheraton Hotel. In 2009 he created Maido, a reflection of his passion for Peruvian cuisine using Japanese inputs and techniques, thus practicing fabulous Nikkei cuisine.
Although it cannot be said for sure what the secret ingredient in Mitsuharu Tsumura is, it is known that his goal is to make people happy. At the end of the day, his work translates into providing a smile.
Finally, this is just a brief look at the immense Latin talent present in haute cuisine from different corners. It is a pleasure to find establishments and people who are dedicated to embodying the essence of their roots in their creations and telling their stories through flavors, smells and presentations in unique and incomparable environments.
Share your opinions on this topic on our social networks. And if you want to find out a little more, here is the most recent list of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America.