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Chef Matias Palomo: The Rising Star of South American Gastronomy

May 22, 2009

Son of Chilean Exiles Returns to Champion the Taste of a Nation

Chef Palomo was born in Mexico in 1978, the son of Chilean exiles who fled the anti-intellectual dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Palomo returned to Chile as a student of INACAP, the Cordon Bleu of Santiago. He traveled to Mexico City for his first professional kitchen experience at La Costa Vasca. In 2001, Chef Palomo received his first truly gourmet experience when he accepted a position in the Basque countryside kitchen of Juan Mari Arzak, the father of new Spanish cuisine and dynamic mentor to Ferran Adrià. Palomo had found his calling. He continued his work-study within the temples of haute cuisine at Daniel in New York City, and for several months in 2002 at El Bulli with Chef Adrià. Palomo returned in 2005 to Restaurant Arzak where he became increasingly certain of his need to return to Chile. “My goal,” says Palomo, “is to make a change in the national cuisine of Latin America. South America is home to some 80% of the quality products used in the culinary world, but its cuisine is not recognized at the international level, unlike Asia and Europe, for example. And our kitchens have the same root. In Mexico, there are empanadas and in Chile we have pastel de choclo. We cook the same ways and this can be empowering.”

At Sukalde, Chef Palomo marries Chile’s indigeous bounty with classical techniques as well as the signature molecular gastronomy of contemporary Spain. Meals reveal the young chef’s playfulness. One night, an appetizer might be a slice of freshly caught tuna topped with micro-beads of soy “caviar.” One another, the kitchen might produce a ten-course meal inspired by the final feast served on the Titanic. Chef Palomo finds particular inspiration in the sea and introduces his diners to lesser-known Pacific fish. This act has inspired Chef Palomo to package fresh frozen fish for distribution within Chile, as well as to Argentina, Mexico and Canada.

Ceiba (701 14th Street NW, Washington, DC; 202.393.9383) is excited to introduce this dynamic upstart to diners in the nation’s capital. The five-course prix fixe dinner will be available June 8-13. The cost is $39, with wines $59.

For more information:
Simone Rathlé