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Creating Galapagos Culinary Traditions from Scratch

07 Sep 2017, Posted by Emilio Dalmau in Galapagos Islands Blog
Creating Galapagos culinary traditions from scratch. Photo credit: Emilio Dalmau

I have a passion for cooking and making people happy with food. Creating memorable experiences through which guests will remember our country, the Galapagos Islands, and the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is what moves me to be more creative every day. Working in such a magical place brings forth many challenges, not only environmentally, but socially and culturally. We seek not only to surprise our guests’ palates, but also to create Galapagos culinary traditions.

Share the Passion

One of the components that I enjoy the most about working in the culinary world is having the chance to interact with guests. Food opens people’s minds. I love taking my time to explain where the products come from and how they are prepared. I thoroughly enjoy telling guests about how ingredients should be handled and the techniques required to cook a typical Ecuadorian Ceviche. If I captivate our guests’ attention through my passion for cooking, maybe they will try to cook the recipe by themselves back home and, in the process, replay the amazing memories they have of Ecuador via our traditional flavours. Who knows? It might even ignite the curiosity of their family and friends to come and visit our country.

Emilio and guests during a cooking class

Emilio and guests during a cooking class

As a Chef, it’s a great privilege to be exposed to this interaction because you meet people from all around the world. We find a common language with which to communicate and share our experiences, in this case – food. And what better place to create new gastronomical traditions and to put our passions to work than the Galapagos Islands? The ingredients found in the archipelago allow us to express our love for this amazing place through our cooking.

The Importance of Sustainability in the Food Industry

We ask nothing more from our visitors than to try our local ingredients and cuisine, prepared using modern techniques. Don’t be afraid to ask about the flavours you’ve liked! We would be more than happy to explain their origins and preparation. Want to try something different? We’ll prepare it for you. Want to learn? Join us for a Galapagos-style ceviche cooking class!

We are lucky to live in a place that gifts us with the best and freshest products. Not just the mainland of Ecuador and its tropical, fertile soils, but also the Galapagos Islands and their unique and secluded environment. Have you tried our endemic Galapagos lobster? You will be hypnotized by its subtle and refined flavour. We are only allowed to fish it 6 months out of year (in order to give the lobster populations time to recover and grow), so treat yourself to it when you get the chance! If you are a big lobster fan, book your amazing Galapagos adventure at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel anytime between the 20th of August and the 30th of December.

Galapagos lobster. Photo credit: Emilio Dalmau

During this period we take advantage of the availability of this product and come up with a special recipe every week. Talk about putting our creative engines to work! We cook our signature lobster using the fresh home-grown vegetables and herbs from our Chakrita garden: red kale, green kale, spinach, chard, sorrel, tatsoi, pac choi, bekana, lemongrass, basil, and aloe vera are just some of the tasty products we love to cook with. At the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, we don’t take our luck for granted, either: sustainability and self-sustainability are an important part of who we are. By respecting the products, the producers, and our planet’s fragile ecosystems, we become part of the slow-food movement. And we show our gratitude for what planet Earth gives us by cooking the best way we possibly can.

A special lobster recipe. Photo credit: Emilio Dalmau

Galapagos Culinary Traditions

Traditions are created through the establishment of patterns and the usage of specific ingredients that reflect a group’s cultural background. Being a colonized land, the Galapagos Islands have not yet created gastronomical traditions of their own, rather they have all been adopted from the mainland. The establishment of traditions require not only time, but an understanding of the environment and its bounties, while simultaneously respecting its essence and limits. In a certain sense, we are gradually creating what constitutes traditional Galapagos food day-by-day, ingredient-by-ingredient. Big things, in the end, have small beginnings.

And at the end of the day, what really counts and what acts as a measure of success is a smile on the faces of our guests when they try our dishes. That is the main source of happiness in a chef’s life (and a good starting point for a new culinary tradition)!

Emilio Dalmau Moreira is a creative Ecuadorian Chef with Spanish roots. He takes pride in what his homeland has to offer by showing its products through the use of modern and classical techniques. With 15 years of experience, Emilio is a globetrotter that has lived in the USA, Argentina. Spain, Colombia, and now the Galapagos Islands. An active member of the Academié Culinaire de France, and with two degrees in Haute Cuisine received in Spain, Emilio is passionate for discovering new flavours and products, and for transmitting the essence of each of the places he cooks in.