We felt it necessary to end this last month of June with a bang by hosting a wonderful “Dinner Duet” (Cena a 4 manos) alongside Chef Rodrigo Pacheco, who hails from Bocavaldivia Restaurant in Puerto Cayo Manabi (located on Ecuador’s coast). Follow along in this blog as we tell you all about the wonderful magic that occurred at the Finch Bay as our team of chefs prepared traditional Galapagos food!
A Savory Bit of Serendipity
The culinary world is quite small, and before beginning this story, it’s worth mentioning that Rodrigo and I have been friends ever since we met as little kids. Once we reached High School, however, we both ended up switching schools and then, after graduating, took off on our separate culinary journeys – Rodrigo to study gastronomy in France, while I went off to study in Spain. We came back home almost around the same time, nearly ten years after having surveyed and experimented at many different restaurants and hotels throughout the cities and countries of Europe.
I mention all of this because, oftentimes, that’s what seems to be the most beautiful thing about traveling, especially when you’re a cook – you get to learn about new and different cultures and then bring it all back home, to your roots. The other thing I love is getting together with your colleagues years later and sharing everything you’ve learned with them. For me, it’s one of life’s greatest caprices – the way things manage to reconnect in the end and come full circle.
And it just so happens that Rodrigo and I are quite aligned with respect to the type of cooking we do and wish to share with our guests. Due to the similarity that Puerto Cayo has with the Galapagos Islands, we both decided to host and focus this “Dinner Duet” on the stellar and notable ingredients that one can find throughout the islands, implementing the techniques that both Rodrigo and I have acquired throughout this past decade.
Preparing Galapagos Traditional Food (in Tandem)!
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is the fact that we’re always aiming and searching for ways to be more sustainable with how we cook. We are always striving to use local products and ingredients that help us highlight the fact that Galapagos’ traditional food is all about being sustainable and responsible. And just like the finches, our Galapagos traditional food is also one that evolves over time in the laboratory of our kitchen, where we continuously perfect and hone our culinary prowess.
Prior to this event, Rodrigo and I got together for around 3 hours, during which we began to throw ideas around, let our creativity flow and ultimately realized that we were both very much aligned in terms of our vision for this specific bit of Galapagos traditional food that we were about to concoct. Not to mention, we seemed to be the perfect match for smoothly executing our menu for this particular evening.
In the end, we decided to prepare a tasting menu consisting of 6 courses that would allow our guests to savor and taste some of the most emblematic seafood of the Enchanted Isles, all of them prepared using the specialized techniques and flavors that are exclusive to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and the Bocavaldivia Restaurant.
The main ingredients of the night were: Galapagos red tuna, octopus, canchalagua, “mule’s foot” clam, endemic lobster, and pez brujo (endemic Galapagos “witch” fish) alongside several different fruits, vegetables and aromatic herbs that come from the islands themselves.
Rodrigo defines his style of cooking as ethnobotanical, as he makes use of all the ingredients and products that are made available to him by the surrounding, natural world. Not only does he use these in the process of cooking, but he also uses them to decorate the dishes he prepares.
The thing about our team in the kitchen at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is that we always make the most of the ingredients that are readily available to us, using our creativity and resourcefulness to produce something truly great and unique.
In Spanish, the term we use to refer to this particular style of event is: “Cena a 4 manos” or “A Dinner Prepared by Four Hands” in English. While Rodrigo and I were the mentors that led the concept on this particular occasion, none of this would have worked as superbly as it did had we not had our trusty and expert team of cooks at the Finch Bay with us! It was thanks to their tremendous help that we managed to deliver a spectacular dinner to all our guests. Not to mention: it was a fantastic experience for all of us working together in the kitchen.
At the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, we’re all about laying down the “culinary groundwork” for Galapagos’ traditional food. Put another way: we aim to be the pioneers of culinary traditions in the archipelago, working hand-in-hand with local fishermen and farmers to eliminate the environmental burden of importing items from the mainland. Our Chakrita garden, too, helps us grow much of our own products right here at the hotel itself. For us, Galapagos’ traditional food is all about paying homage to what the islands produce without damaging this unique, one-of-a-kind destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sustainability and exquisite delicacies must go hand-in-hand here more than anywhere else in the world. One of these days, when the friends and/or family members of our guests ask them about what the food was like in Galapagos, we want them to refer to us.
For me, life is pretty simple when it comes to figuring out what you need to do with it: just think about what you feel passionate about and what makes you happy, and try and focus on doing that one thing!
It’s one of my greatest fortunes and a tremendous privilege to get the chance to cook with one of my good friends from childhood, right here in a paradisiacal place like Galapagos, surrounded by one of the best teams of cooks I could ever ask for.
And the best part? There’s still plenty of roads to tread, things to create, and stories to tell… and we’ll always be looking forward to the next gastronomic adventure!
In the end: We live to cook, we cook to live and we love to cook!