Tag Archives: Colombian chefs

Colombia’s Top Restaurants and Chefs

Recently the World’s 50 Best Restaurants came out with some news that will affect Colombia’s top restaurants and chefs. And, if you live in Bogota or are planning a visit, this may very well affect you too.

It’s about their restaurant awards for Latin America.

However, before I get to the news, I want to talk about the awards themselves. Because you may be asking yourself why in the world you should care about restaurant awards.

Perhaps you’ve heard criticism of restaurant awards. After all, who is truly qualified to judge restaurants? Chefs, journalists, people in the restaurant industry – couldn’t they all be biased or have criteria that are completely skewed? Sure, they do know much more about the industry than the average person. But then again, the average person that would consider following their suggestions might not value the same dining experiences.

If that’s what you’re thinking, well…you’re right.

You could also ask yourself how they can judge the best offerings in a vast area, such as an entire country or a vast region. Have their judges eaten at all of those restaurants to be able to compare all those experiences?

And again, you’d be right: few judges can afford the luxury of trying all the restaurants in a large area or even one city. Unless, of course, you’re Jeffrey Merrihue, the man who’s literally eaten through the  world’s best restaurants list. But he’s a different story, which we’ll someday get around to telling our version of.

Another point you could question is what are those awards based on? Glitz? Famous chefs? Fancy ingredients that few people can afford? A restaurant owner’s influence in the industry? You could be right about each of those points. At times, restaurants do get on those lists because of everything except the chef’s skill in the kitchen.

So why should you care about these awards?

Because in spite of any challenges and drawbacks to choosing the restaurants that make it onto the lists, awards are still the best way to recognize and congratulate those who are doing something extraordinary in a tough – and often unforgiving – industry.

Most food awards do give a nod to lesser-known chefs who are doing extraordinary things in the quiet obscurity of their kitchens and other delightfully creative spots (home stoves, backyard fire pits, or rural gardens).

It’s through these awards that you can discover some amazing chefs who are working to make their world a better place. They do things like supporting small producers and the local economy, employing former guerrilla soldiersbattling destructive marine life, and helping women make a living.

Ooops, did I suddenly shift to talking about Colombia? Yup. Because the exciting news from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is that the Latin American Awards will take place in Colombia for the next two years.

[Applause]

Yes, after taking their turn in Peru and Mexico, the awards ceremony will land this September in another gem of a culinary city, Bogota.

For those of us who believe in the restaurant industry’s ability to change lives and the value of discovering Colombia’s fascinating culinary traditions, we truly do applaud this move.

This year the world will turn its eyes to Bogota and ask, “Why Colombia?” And over the next 7 months leading up to the awards ceremony, the chefs, restaurant owners, culinary schools, and yes, food writers here in Bogota will stand up and shout out the clear answer.

So keep your ears open this year to discover the best in Colombian ingredients, innovative techniques, renewed traditions, and perhaps the most passionate chefs anywhere. Because whatever Colombians do, they bring to it a passion and energy that takes the ordinary and makes it shine.

Some of Colombia’s top restaurants and chefs

Interested in finding out aboutColombia’s top restaurants and chefs that have won the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in the past? Here’s a quick overview.

A word of warning – remember that many of the true gems in this city and around the country have never been on an awards list, and probably never will be. Over the coming months we’ll be focusing on those little-known but incredibly valuable chefs that the world has largely forgotten to talk about. Please join us – subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date (you’ll find the form at the bottom of this page).

Perhaps you’re not interested in fancy restaurants with staggering price tags. That’s right up our alley, too – after all, the best way to discover a city’s culinary roots is to get out on the street. Read about some of our favorite places for food lovers in Bogota.

Leo

Restaurante Leo Bogota Grilled angus

Colombia’s top chef, Leonor Espinosa, brings international attention to lesser known ingredients like corozo, yacón, and fried ants. Her artistic creations have put her in the limelight. In 2016, her restaurant LEO, in the heart of Bogota’s downtown financial district, was at number 16 on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

That achievement positions her as the best chef in Colombia. Although some chefs have reached that fame by expanding beyond Colombia’s borders for inspiration, Leonor sticks not just to Colombian food, but to food from little-known regions of the country.

Through her Leo Espinosa Foundation, she works with small rural communities all over Colombia. She brings rare ingredients and methods to her restaurant and combines a love of discovery with a sense of social well-being.

Even the coffee at LEO will make you feel good: it comes from a rural Afro-Colombian community that has been afflicted by unrest and violence. For a more casual look into Colombian cuisine, try her Misia restaurants.

Calle 27B # 6 – 75, Bogota

Criterion

Criterion restaurant Bogota Colombia
Photo courtesy of Criterion

Criterion has been on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list ever since the awards began. Led by Colombia’s beloved culinary brothers, Jorge and Mark Rausch, in 2015 the restaurant moved up the list to come in at #18 and in 2016 they placed at #29.

Criterion’s location in Zona G puts this duo in one of the hottest restaurant areas with some of the top dining establishments. The  menu is based on French cuisine with Latin touches. Hidden among foie gras, gigot d’agneau and bouillabaisse on their menu, they include typical Colombian dishes like the famous posta negra cartagenera, a braised short rib with tamarind and panela (raw sugar). Their desserts appropriately focus on Colombia’s outstanding tropical fruits, with guanabana sorbet, coconut mousse with arequipe cream, or cuajada (fresh cheese) with melao and guava sauce.

Calle 69 A # 5 – 75, Bogota

Harry Sasson

Harry Sasson restaurant Bogota Colombia

One of the first Colombian chefs to gain celebrity status, Harry Sasson headed up fine dining back in the mid-1990s in Bogota.

His restaurant, set in a gorgeous National Heritage mansion with a Tudor look, is just a stone’s throw from one of the most impressive gastronomic scenes in the city. From the elegant upstairs bar and chef’s table to the bright and modern atrium outside, Harry knows how to set the scene for an outstanding meal. This is where heads of state, national and international artists, and famous musicians go for memorable meals.

The menu isn’t just about Colombian food. You’ll find Asian and international touches mixed in with Colombian ingredients. Dishes done on a Japanese robata grill sit on the menu next to salads with hearts of palm from Putumayo, the south of Colombia. Harry came in at #40 on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2016.

Carrera 9 No. 75-70, Bogota

El Cielo

At El Cielo, baby-faced owner and chef Juan Manuel Barrientos’ inventiveness and his constantly changing experimental tasting menu will challenge your preconceptions about food. El Cielo is all about creating emotions and reactions to the dishes. Recent tasting menus focus on Colombian ingredients and traditions mixed with international techniques.

What Juan Manuel wants to transmit to those who eat at his version of heaven is Stop. Live the moment. Look at what you have in front of you, and look again because maybe you didn’t see it right the first time. Feel it. Smell it. Turn it over and over and understand it. Each minute of life is precious and we won’t get it back.

After visiting the restaurant you’ll understand why Barrientos is considered among the top chefs in Colombia. El Cielo came in at #30 on the Latin America’s Best Restaurants List in 2015.

Calle 70 4-47, Bogota

Andrés Carne de Res

Volumes could be written about the craziness at Andrés Carne de Res. It’s on most must-do-while-visiting-Bogota lists. And when you walk through the door, you’ll realize why. Musicians wander from table to table to play typical Latin ballads, waiters are dressed in colorful and bizarre outfits, and random objects such as steel cows and neon hearts dangle from the ceiling.

The menu is almost 70 pages long, presumably in an attempt to list the majority of Colombian dishes. As the name suggest, this place shines when it comes to meat preparations like lomo al trapo. Most of the dishes are overpriced for typical Colombian food, but what you’re really paying for is the party (which is priceless).

The original restaurant is in Chía, but if you don’t want to battle traffic to get out of the city, try the five-level monstrosity in Bogota for a crazy, fun night out. Andrés Carne de Res squeaked in at #49 on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2016.

Calle 3 N° 11A – 56, Chia

Calle 82 #12-21, Zona Rosa, Bogota

Where do you love to to eat in Colombia? Do you have your favorite Colombian chef? Please tell us about them! Let’s start our own 50 Best Restaurants in Colombia list.

 

Restaurants in Bogota: Prudencia

La Candelaria is one of Bogota’s most fascinating neighborhoods, both bohemian and historic. It’s uncomfortably crowded down by the main plaza but takes on an eerie calm up by Chorro de Quevedo, the fountain and plaza where they say Bogota got its start.

I can feel the history as I walk on the quiet streets past buildings whose foundations were laid in the early 1600s.  The cobblestone streets are crowded with red tile roofed houses painted in vibrant colonial colors. Occasional splashes of street art invoke the past and present, modern and historic, European and indigenous.

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Restaurants in Colombia: Criterion

Quick Reviews are short peeks at restaurants in Colombia

Colombia’s beloved culinary brothers, Jorge and Mark Rausch, have been on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list with their restaurant Criterion ever since the prestigious awards began. In 2015 they moved up the list to now come in at number 18.

Their popularity has reached new heights since Jorge formed part of the Master Chef Colombia team. Criterion’s location in Zona G puts this duo in one of the hottest restaurant areas with some of the top dining establishments.

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Restaurants in Colombia: El Cielo

El Cielo is a restaurant in Colombia that will knock your socks off. Baby-faced chef Juan Manuel Barrientos’ inventiveness and his experimental tasting menu will challenge your preconceptions about food. In fact, it’s better not to come with any expectations at all – the experience will be different than anything you imagine.

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Taste Colombia’s Regional Ingredients at LEO

Colombia’s most famous female chef, Leonor Espinosa, brings international attention to Colombia’s regional ingredients like corozo and yacón, snails and fried ants (a Colombian delicacy).

Continue reading Taste Colombia’s Regional Ingredients at LEO

Chefs Celebrate Latin Cuisine in Manhattan

The annual charity banquet for Citymeals on Wheels is going Latin this year. More than 1,000 guests will try the Latin creations of chefs from around the United States and Latin America at ¡Qué Rico! Celebrating Latino Cuisine and Culture.

Continue reading Chefs Celebrate Latin Cuisine in Manhattan

Restaurants in Colombia: Harry Sasson

Quick Reviews are short peeks at restaurants in Colombia

One of the first Colombian chefs to become a celebrity, Harry Sasson headed up in the mid-1990s what has become a fine dining boom in Bogota.

His restaurant is set in a National Heritage mansion with a Tudor look. It’s just a stone’s throw from Zona G, one of the most outstanding gastronomic scenes in the city. This restaurant is where heads of state, national and international artists, and famous musicians go for unforgettable meals.

Continue reading Restaurants in Colombia: Harry Sasson

Dining in Style in Cartagena

Cartagena, a tropical seaside city, is all about sun, relaxation, and sand beneath your feet. But Cartagena has so much more than that, with a growing – perhaps more appropriately called exploding – restaurant and food scene. New restaurants are constantly opening their doors, and the attention of the world is focused on this city for food lovers.

When you want to add a touch of luxury to your vacation – perhaps celebrate a special event or spend a romantic evening – there are plenty of top notch restaurants that serve both Colombian and international cuisine. Cartagena’s chefs and restaurant owners make good use of the gorgeous boutique hotels set in fabulously restored mansions that dot the historical city.  Here, the dining experience goes beyond the food and immerses you in a cultural and historic journey.

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Bogota Wine & Food Festival 2016

What the festival is about

Since 2011, the Bogota Wine and Food Festival (BWFF) has been bringing attention to Colombia’s fascinating culinary scene. The festival gathers together chefs from around the world to cook, talk, eat, and most importantly, share their knowledge.

This time it’s all about Colombian ingredients. Sporting the question A Qué Sabe Colombia? (What does Colombia Taste Like), this year’s festival is all about what you’ll taste here in this country of biodiversity.

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