Super Chefs

They are kitchen royalty, the talents behind great cuisine, masters of their domains. We are proud to present Latin America’s rising stars, all under the age of 40.

text: Rodrigo Barría & Daniela Vicuña | illustrations: hugo horita




Photos: Sebastián Utreras

I t’s 4:30 in the afternoon, and Carolina Bazán is focused on cutting wild mushrooms in her restaurant Ambrosía. She has already checked the menu and the ingredients available for the night: “There’s no fish, for example. My supplier didn’t have any, and I’m opposed to using frozen fish, with very few exceptions,” she explains.
Ten years ago, a 23-year-old Bazán had recently graduated from culinary school. With that training under her toque, she took over the kitchen at Ambrosía, her parents’ restaurant in downtown Santiago. With little experience, but a good palate and well-honed technique, Bazán managed to fill the place daily and attract the attention of experts.


“I’m in a good place, something I think is rooted in experience, harmony and adaptation.”

With occasional trips to Italy, Thailand, Brazil, England and France to discover new ingredients, find inspiration, try new foods and learn new things, Bazán’s definitive return to Chile was energetic and passionate. In collaboration with her family, she decided to move the restaurant, expand its hours and turn Ambrosia into a bistro offering great food, a warm atmosphere and attentive service. The goal was to make Ambrosia the kind of place you’d want to visit again and again.
“Your food has lots of flavor,” said Fernando Rivarola, the chef of the noted Argentinean restaurant El Baqueario, who visited a few months back. And he was right on the money. Bazán displays a natural facility for simple, well-defined, fresh creations. No wonder the Chilean press named her Best New Chef in 2013, and in 2014, Ambrosía won the “One to Watch” award from Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.



What book informs your creations?
The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.


What flavor or dish have you never liked?
I think anything prepared well can be delicious.
If I don’t like something, I give it a second try somewhere else, where it’s made differently. If I still don’t like it, I give it a third chance and so on, until it wins me over.

A hearty breakfast, a cookout with friends, a good bottle of booze or a smorgasbord of desserts?
A cookout with friends.

You’re starving, short on time and don’t feel like cooking. What do you make?

Your favorite restaurant in Chile?
After mine? Goemon.

An essential ingredient?

What’s the soundtrack for your cooking?
We don’t always play music, but when we do, it’s on shuffle. I’ve noticed that electronic music provides a good tempo for working.

Describe your ideal last meal.
An Italian feast with friends.


Where would you eat for less than US$15?
I’d have a rumano italiano, a hamburger made with beef and pork and served with avocado, tomato and mayonnaise at
La Fuente Alemana.

Rumano Italiano de la Fuente Alemana




Photos: Mocotó


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In São Paulo, far from the spotlights and chic circuits, without tablecloths or fancy silverware, you’ll find one of the biggest hits of the Brazilian culinary scene. It’s called Mocotó, in honor of a beloved traditional stew, and from its kitchen, the talented, young chef Rodrigo Oliveira is earning his share of plaudits.
With the notion of democratizing the culinary scene and showcasing the intense flavors of Pernambuco – the state his family calls home –Oliveira arrived in 2004 to take over a business stared by his father in the 1970s. He left school behind and let his hidden love for gourmet food flourish, gradually transforming Mocotó into an honest, simple restaurant featuring fabulous Brazilian fare, where the simplest cuts of meat are elevated to the stratosphere and forgotten vegetables are prepared to perfection.
IMG_3560 copy
Number 12 on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, Mocotó doesn’t take reservations, prices are reasonable, and it’s always packed. And that makes Oliveira proud: “Our recipe has two main ingredients: good food and hospitality. Although it seems simple, it is something you can only achieve through lots of dedication, talent and – most importantly – passion.”


What book informs your creations?
There’s no one book in particular but a short list would include Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, as well as books by Joël Robuchon, Santi Santamaria and Joan Roca.



An essential ingredient?
Beans and their incredible variety.

Your favorite restaurant in Brazil?
Paraiso Tropical in Salvador da Bahia. Chef Beto Pimentel prepares a unique, very natural and intuitive cuisine.

Where do you go to eat after midnight?
Sushi Hiroshi in Santana. In addition to the food and amazing technique, you get to enjoy the hospitality of Hiroshi and his lovely family.

A hearty breakfast, a cookout with friends, a good bottle of booze or a smorgasbord of desserts?
Definitely breakfast, that magic hour where you can have a colorful table, dear friends, smiles, children waking up…


You’re starving, short on time and don’t feel like cooking.
What do you make?

A loaf of bread, made by our baker Rogério Moraes, olive oil, a piece of cheese from Serra da Canastra, in Minas Gerais, and if possible, a glass of Alicante Bouschet.

Rebanada de Pan con Queso




Photos: Leandro Monachesi


The story of Gonzalo Aramburu began many years ago. He first learned about pans, knives and the proper combination of ingredients as a child at home, sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity. Perhaps it was this early experience that ultimately led Aramburu to set aside his love for theater and law in order to enter the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomía (IAG). He soon dedicated himself to cooking around the world, learning from some of the greats – Charlie Trotter, Martín Berasategui, Daniel Boulud and Joël Robuchon – before finally returning to his native Buenos Aires to showcase an impeccable take on local cuisine with national roots.

For his creative menu, Aramburu mixes modern and traditional techniques.

Hidden in the heart of bohemian San Telmo, without any signs or attention-seeking decor, Aramburu opened his eponymous restaurant, a foray into the world of avant-garde dishes, pure flavors and tasting menus. Today, he also owns Aramburu Bis and Aramburu Cocina Central. It has been several years since Aramburu launched his open kitchen, and today, Aramburu ranks 14 on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Using top-quality, Argentinean ingredients, this inspired chef turns out prawns wrapped in kadaif pastry and coral sauce that deserve a standing ovation and a perfect suckling pig with pumpkin puree that will leave you wanting more, all accompanied with fine wine selected by award-winning sommelier Agustina de Alba.



Where would you eat for less than US$15?
I would pick a food truck and find a simple option that fit my budget.

Food Truck

An essential ingredient?

You’re starving, short on time and don’t feel like cooking. What do you make?
Whatever’s in the fridge: from salad to a sandwich or some fruit.

Your favorite restaurant in Argentina?
It’s impossible to choose just one. There are more than ten establishments featuring truly great chefs.

What book informs your creations?
There’s no one book that stands out. I look at everything from cookbooks from the early 20th-century to the latest books on the market.

Describe your ideal last meal.
With friends, cherishing the moment more than the meal.


A hearty breakfast, a cookout with friends, a good bottle of booze or a smorgasbord of desserts?
A cookout with friends that ends with a bottle of whiskey.

Plato de carne a la Parrilla y Botella de Whisky




Photos: El Cielo

Born in Medellín in 1983, Juan Manuel Barrientos began his culinary studies in his hometown. Then he made a bold move by leaving school and heading to Argentina to work with renowned chef Iwao Komiyama, from whom he learned technique and rigor. With this apprenticeship under his belt, in 2005 Barrientos landed at San Sebastián’s Arzak, one of the most influential and celebrated restaurants in the world.


Barrientos first opened El Cielo as a hot dog cart. Today, it’s one of the 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America.

When he returned to Colombia, Barrientos was just 23 years old, but he had absorbed decades of experience, which was just what he needed to open his own restaurants. Both establishments – one in Medellín and another in Bogotá – share the same name, El Cielo, and the number 46 spot on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, thanks to an avant-garde concept that uses elements of neuroscience to create tasting menus evoking emotions and feelings.
Barrientos – who has created some 1,500 dishes in his career – raises a provocative question: Since when do we only eat with
our mouths? One fabulous illustration of his culinary quest is Chocolaterapia. In this experiential dish, diners “wash” their hands with melted chocolate and coconut milk, a multi-sensorial event that stimulates the mind and the soul.
Hyperactive and groundbreaking, the Colombian chef sums up own his existential dilemma with stark honesty: “I know what to do with my restaurants, but I don’t know what to do with my life.”


An essential ingredient?


Your favorite restaurant in Colombia?
Sancho Paisa in Medellín, where I’ve been going since I was a kid.

You’re starving, short on time and don’t feel like cooking. What do you make?
I slice open a ciabatta roll and add honey, pesto and fresh mozzarella, and I washed it all down with prosecco.

Where would you eat for less than US$15?
At El Cielo in Bogotá, where I don’t spend a penny (he laughs). A good spot is Abasto in Usaquén.

Where do you go to eat after midnight?
Donde Juancho in Medellín.

A hearty breakfast, a cookout with friends, a good bottle of booze or a smorgasbord of desserts?
A hearty breakfast, which would end up being a brunch with mimosas and bellinis that turns into a party.


What book informs your creations?
The Four Agreements, for cooking in peace; The Art of Loving, for “cooking” with someone you love; and Sous-Vide Cuisine, for going beyond.

los cuatro acuerdos 4




Photos: Rosetta



Simple, seasonal and carefully prepared cuisine is her trademark.

B orn in Mexico City, Elena Reygadas studied at the famous French Culinary Institute in New York. Her next move took her across the Atlantic, where she spent time working in a number of London kitchens. Among Reygadas’s most important stops was Locanda Locatelli, run by Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli, one of her great mentors and the man responsible for her enduring love of Italian cuisine.
In 2011, Reygadas returned to Mexico and opened Rosetta, a simple restaurant with a carefully curated menu. In this traditional mansion in Colonia Roma, the tables are adorned with flowers but no tablecloths, and warm lighting enhances the atmosphere. Diners at Rosetta are treated to unforgettable flavors, with the menu including malfattis, orecchiette and truly sublime bread. Reygadas’s Spanish grandmother would only prepare dishes from her homeland, and the young woman who has joined the circle of Mexico’s best-known chefs likewise sticks to what she loves: truffles, good olive oil and plenty of vegetables. Rosetta has become one of Mexico City’s most notable eateries, and Reygadas has added two bakeries to her culinary holdings. It’s an impressive trajectory that recently peaked with her nabbing the 2014 Veuve Clicquot award for Best Chef in Latin America.


What’s the soundtrack for your cooking?
The playlist is fun and wide-ranging, from Joy Division to Calle 13 to Sonora Santanera.



Where would you eat for less than US$15?
At París 16.

Where do you to eat after midnight?
After midnight, I get tacos at El Farolito or Los Parados.

An essential ingredient?
I don’t have a favorite, but I do have a predilection for herbs and vegetables.


You’re starving, short on time and don’t feel like cooking. What do you make?
Egg tacos

Tacos de Huevo Mexicanos

What flavor or dish have you never liked?
Anything that’s too sweet.



Photos: Maido


IMG_4891 - MT

At age 33, Micha already has two other projects in mind: in Spain and Asia.

They call him Micha. He’s Peruvian, but he traces his heritage to Osaka, Japan. After culinary school in the United States, Mitusharu Tsumura went to Osaka to get first-hand experience in local dishes in order to give them a Peruvian spin: the fantastic fusion known as Nikkei cuisine. He even wrote a book: Nikkei es Perú (Nikkei Is Peru). Impulsive and energetic but fond of sleep, Micha draws inspiration for his dishes from his recurring dreams about food. And he has been dreaming for a long time, ever since he was eight years old and tried to recreate the recipes he saw on television. His earliest culinary rite of passage was at age 14, when the budding chef was entrusted with preparing the family’s Christmas dinner.
Now at the helm of the prestigious Maido in the Lima neighborhood of Miraflores, Micha understands that the ingredients are the true stars of his dishes. Maido, which takes its name from an informal greeting in Japanese, greatly benefits from the chef’s stint in Japan. In 2014, his delicate and delicious Nikkei fusion earned Maido recognition as the seventh-best restaurant in Latin America, and there are plenty of reasons why, like the nigiri sushi made with Amazonian cecina (dried pork) and a rice pudding with passion-fruit foam. And to drink? Try an unforgettable pisco sour.


An essential ingredient?
All Peruvian chili peppers, especially ají amarillo and rocoto.


Where would you eat for less than US$15?
Al Toke Pez in Surquillo

What’s the soundtrack for your cooking?

Describe your ideal last meal.
A meal from the north of Peru, with a good cebiche, torrejitas de choclo (corn fritters), seco de cabrito (goat stewed with lots of cilantro) with rice and beans, duck and rice and chirimpico (a dish made with goat chitterlings).

Where do you go to eat after midnight?
The La Pava Sangüich. Order the cerdo al cilindro (cylinder-cooked pork) or the lomo saltado 
(beef stir-fry).

What is your favorite restaurant in Peru?
It’s impossible to pick just one. There are so many good ones here and around the world.


You’re starving, short on time and don’t feel like cooking. What do you make?
Rice with Fried Eggs.

Arroz con Huevo Frito


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