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Food trends that are changing Latin America

July 1, 2020

We’ve noticed some interesting food trends emerge in Latin America over the last few years. Some pioneering Latin American chefs are stepping out of the kitchen and into public service! From feeding customers to creating jobs, promoting equality, preventing violence and more.

Here are 5 Latin American culinary ventures you should know about.

1. Brazil: Cooking to prevent violence

Brazilian chef David Hertz first realized that food could help alleviate the poverty and violence of Sao Paulo’s poorest neighbourhoods over a decade ago. And in 2006 he launched a project called Gastromotiva. The initiative encourages local gang members to train as chefs, giving them legal and productive source of income.

So far, Hertz’s social gastronomy program has trained 1,850 young men and women. And even more impressive, 80% have gone on to get jobs in the restaurant industry.

2. Venezuela: Feeding the hungry

At night, Venezuelan chef Carlos García runs Alto, a swanky restaurant in the capital of Caracas. But by day he directs Barriga Llena, Corazon Contento – “Full Belly, Happy Heart”– a foundation that delivers daily meals to schools in Caracas’ poorest neighbourhood.

The foundation serves 160 people at José Manuel de los Rios Children’s Hospital, including 30 doctors. Parents often struggle to feed their children while they receive treatment, so Garcia stepped in to help. But rather than an act of charity, García says he sees feeding starving people as the professional obligation of a chef.

And extra kudos most surely go to a chef who has to source ingredients in a country with empty grocery store shelves.

3. The Amazon: Creating a rainforest-to-table movement

Possibly the most innovative social gastronomy project in Latin America is Cumari. This is a collaboration of several non-profit organizations based in the Amazon rainforest of Peru and Brazil.

With 40,000 species of plants, thousands of kinds of fish and 3,000 different fruits, the Amazon is bursting with ingredients. But traditional food production is threatened by development and the rise of industrial agriculture. Cumari’s founders hope that demand for local ingredients will rise as more people get to know Amazonian cuisine. And a bigger market for rainforest foods should, in turn, protect this environment.

Working together to attract influential Latin American chefs into the jungle, the Cumari collaborative places them in kitchens across the region. There, the chefs prepare meals showcasing traditional Amazonian flavours. From super healthy fruits like acai berry to fleshy river fish!

4. Peru: Fighting inequality with gastronomy

Chef Gastón Acurio played a huge part in cementing Peru’s reputation as a  culinary destination.  In fact, he was so successful that you can now find outposts of his award-winning Lima restaurant Astrid y Gastón, in London, Bogota and beyond.

Now, he’s using global interest in Peruvian food to help young people back home. Acurio’s Fundación Pachacutec Culinary Institute, offers scholarships to budding chefs from marginalized communities in Peru and pays them a living wage while they train. Because, Acurio believes that education is Peru’s most powerful weapon against inequality, which remains very high.

The institute has had more than 300 graduates, with many alumni showing off their skills in some of the world’s most celebrated restaurants.

5. Bolivia: Reclaiming indigenous cuisine

Gusto is the brainchild of Danish entrepreneur Claus Meyer, the man behind award-winning Noma restaurant. In 2013, he decided he wanted to open a great restaurant abroad that could also make a difference. To advance his goal of “fighting poverty through deliciousness,” he created a culinary school for disadvantaged youths.

Just like Noma, Gustu is fiercely focused on promoting indigenous flavours and locally sourced ingredients. And since Bolivia is one of the most biodiverse nations in the world, they have an incredible variety of produce to choose from!

Latin America never stops surprising us. These food trends are part of a broader emerging effort, designed to help lift people out of poverty and reduce environmental impacts. So if you’re interested in learning more about these kinds of programs, contact one of our Travel Specialists! Because we’ve got a fantastic array of tours which can connect you with development programs just like these!

And if you’d like to know more about the above 5 venture, read the original article here.