Rodolfo Guzman has just announced the relocation of his Boragó restaurant to a beautiful new location in the Vitacura area of Santiago, Chile. The brand new space is surrounded by Cerro Manquehue; the highest peak in Santiago and a perfect natural landmark that acts as a wonderful barometer of the city's changing seasons.
Guzman has been working on a new home for his award-winning restaurant for the past few years. The new space, massive in comparison to the original Boragó site, now includes a culinary research centre - dedicated to the education, promotion, and discovery of Chilean ingredients - set to open at the end of the month.
“We've been able during the last few years to learn deeply about our ingredients in a great way,” explained Guzman in an exclusive interview with Fine Dining Lovers. “We've been discovering things we never thought we would in terms of flavor and we have to open all of this knowledge, it doesn't make sense to keep it within the 4 walls of the restaurant. So we are creating the first research centre for Chilean food.
“R&D will be inside here, our lab is inside, many people working and thinking about the future of our ingredients, from the sea, the mountains: the babies, the wild ingredients. We want to take it forward, we want to push it very strongly to take our responsibility. We discovered things that we have to share with the next generation.”
Guzman is known for cooking unique ingredients sourced from across the different regions of Chile. The chef travels as far as the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on Earth, on missions to connect with local producers, communities and cultures to understand their ingredients and harness them in his restaurant. He has already released an app documented the ingredients of his country but the new centre aims to take this work further.
Ice Brûlée from Atacama desert plants and ice cream sandwich of the rose of the year.
For Guzman, it will allow a continued development of relationships he has made with these communities. “It's about economy, these wild plants or these wild fruits we used to gather with a few people from the restaurant during the year. After a few years, some other restaurants got interested in these ingredients and now our foragers are becoming producers and those producers are feeding more people, maybe in the markets and maybe in the grocery stores and that's more quality food for the children... That's very interesting for society.”
Chilean langoustine cake and Kolof roots broth.
The new Boragó, with a dining room double the size of the last restaurant while maintaining a 54-seat capacity, is something Guzman said was needed for the next step. “We used to be four in the kitchen and now we're 40, we have massive logistics, we have a farm away from the restaurant, we have to find ingredients from the hills around us, we have this very intense operation: most of our ingredients are coming from these foragers all over the country. We needed this space to be happy and complete as a family. The kitchen is now very comfortable and very, very efficient. The restaurant is almost like a spa, we have a beautiful garden outside and we're planning to do yoga classes every morning for the staff.”
The yoga idea is something very much in tune with how restaurants seem to be developing at the moment. There is much more focus on staff wellbeing within the fine dining industry, mental health, mindfulness and the sustainability of the actual chef are all topics that are being heavily discussed at the moment. For Guzman, this is something imperative for running a top restaurant.
“I think cooking to the point that restaurants are pushing for, you're pushing so hard that it's a performance and when you're performing you have to be prepared. You have to have a good quality of life, you have to be prepared spiritually, mentally, physically - then you can move forward and feel great with yourself and others.
"Let's take a very complex restaurant. When you're putting so much effort, you're pushing to the limits and moving to a performance area. Have you seen the Formula One? It's a big team, ok, there's one guy driving but there are so many other guys in the team that are absolutely focused. I think when you're serving food that requires a huge amount of effort, you really, really need to be focused. Having all the support from those little things that can make you feel great are important, we work a lot of hours, we spend a lot of hours inside of the kitchen but even when we're very passionate for this we have to feel very strong physically and spiritually, all of it."
Picoroco, pewén and cold Pulmay.