Day 2 of the Bocuse d'Or Latin America competition in Mexico City was filled with excitement as chefs from Guatemala and Costa Rica competed with gastronomic heavyweights Peru, Chile and Argentina.
Brazilian chef Giovanna Grossi's strong performance in Day 1 won her first place in the prestigious competition (read here the exclusive interview about her victory). Second place went to Jessica Tony from Uruguay while Marcos Saenz from Guatemala placed third. All three talented chefs will compete in the grand finale to be held in Lyon in 2017.
It was a great day for female cooks as Grossi and Tony were recognized for their culinary talent in an industry that is still dominated by men.
courtesy Bocuse d'Or Latin America
The composition of the fish dish by the chef Gaston Vicenti was one of the most colorful and stylized of the contest. Coming from the Gato Dumas school in Buenos Aires, the Argentinean team exhibited great enthusiasm and concentration.
Fish dish from Argentina / courtesy Bocuse d'Or Latin America
Vicenti's mentor, the chef Fernando Orciani, was very clear on his reasons for participating: "We are happy to come and will always try to attend. For the Bocuse d'Or is the world's largest competition and encourages us to develop talent even if we move slowly. "
No Small Rivals
Guatemala already participated in two other editions of the Bocuse d'Or Latin America. This year the country demonstrated it had enough talent to attain a decent third place win. Competing chef Marcos Saenz was supported by Diego Telles as coach after the pair met during a stage at Mugaritz.
They worked with amaranth, a leading grain in Mesoamerica, and employed the tatemado technique in which food is cooked with ashes. They prepared a biscuit tatemado with 'burnt' onions emanating a delicious aroma. The Hotel Casa Santo Domingo where Saenz is executive chef, was pleased to provide sponsorship for the Guatemalan team.
Meat dish from Guatemala / courtesy Bocuse d'Or Latin America
Although everything was perfectly planned, some teams faced an unexpected twist that required last minute improvisation. This was the case with the delegates from Costa Rica, who had ingredients taken away by Mexico City's customs.
In the small Central American country, the Caribbean serves as inspiration. So chef Marcos Vargas, accompanied by his coach Darwin González, are committed to taking food to another level: "We have come to learn, soak up the level of competition and try to pave the way for new generations, we took a year working as an independent team without sponsors or institutions involved," explained Gonzalez.
Meat dish from Peru / courtesy Bocuse d'Or Latin America
A Pantry to Discover
Peru showed its support for chef Palmiro Ocampo (from 1087 Bistro in Lima) with sponsorship from PromPerú, the country's tourism and export promotion board. In his dishes, Ocampo represented his Andean country using its native vegetation and doing interesting things with algae.
Palmiro Ocampo from Peru / courtesy Bocuse d'Or Latin America
One of his special ingredients was cushuro, which is grown at an altitude of 4,000 meters. He used it to accompany a piece of fish and octopus. "The region of the Amazon is the pantry of the future" said Ocampo. Although Ocampo did not achieve a place on the podium his team faired well, as chef Anthony Castro, 21, was named best commis in Latin America.
Anthony Castro, Best Commis in Latin America / courtesy Bocuse d'Or Latin America
Meanwhile Chile is another country with great diversity and ingredients that are still unknown to the world, including the ancient techniques used by the Mapuche natives, some of which were employed by chef Homero Burgos chef of Hotel Santiago Park Plaza.