Chef’s blog: a nat geo Galapagos culinary experience at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel
A Nat Geo Galapagos Culinary Experience
In order for readers to understand this Nat Geo Galapagos culinary experience I am going to write about in this blog, I must first let them know about the time when we were selected as one of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. It all started about a year and a half ago. Being selected was something we worked really hard for and when it finally happened we all felt very excited and frightened at the same time. Yet the effort was worth it, because we were able to become one of only two hotels in Ecuador to form part of such an exclusive group.
Being part of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World entails offering our guests a one-in-a-million sort of experience. It’s more than just being included in a list of luxury hotels – it means guests here at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel get the chance to experience unique moments not everyone has the opportunity to live. This is exactly what we wanted our first National Geographic guests to experience for themselves.
– Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel’s Chef Fabricio Hidalgo –
As is the case with any guest arriving at Finch Bay for the first time, we make sure the experience begins as soon as they set foot in the archipelago. In this case, a cold refreshment prepared with herbs from our Chakrita garden welcomed our guests Mary Rose and Lisa. This served as the perfect moment to provide them with a short explanation of what their experience at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel included. For guests booking their stay with us through the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World page, several activities are listed and can be selected for their stay. One of these is having a cooking class with the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel chef. After all, who isn’t interested in learning how to cook a delicious dish from another part of the world?
With Mary Rose and Lisa we decided to cook an Ecuadorian ceviche, one of Ecuador’s most popular dishes. And of course, we would do it with the special touch found at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.
– Produce grown in Finch Bay’s Chakrita Garden. Photo credit: Chakrita Lab –
The Main Ingredient
Our National Geographic guests, Mary Rose and Lisa, selected a day for their class and the rest was up to us. We checked the list of ingredients to make sure we would find the freshest products and have them taken directly from the sea to the chef’s table. We chose the delicious wahoo, a fish with a unique flavour and a strong texture. These characteristics actually serve as an advantage when marinating it with lemon, because it means the fish won’t come apart and will instead remain firm and juicy.
I have to admit that with them being our first official Nat Geo guests, I was a little nervous. I had never given a cooking class to anyone other than my girlfriend or a close friend. More worrisome was the fact that I had never tried to explain cooking in a language that wasn’t my mother tongue.
Right from the start however, Mary Rose and Lisa were incredibly friendly and kind, and so my nerves relaxed almost immediately. It felt like we were already friends from long ago, so after a bit of chit chat we got right into cooking. I started by identifying all of the ingredients that we would be using for this recipe.
Mary Rose spoke a little Spanish too, so she was very curious about learning some of the ingredients’ names in Spanish. On the other hand, Lisa was already familiar with cooking so she became the perfect assistant. We talked about all the different kinds of ceviches and their variations throughout South America. In between cooking and laughing, I told them about how here in Ecuador ceviche is also a popular remedy for those suffering from a hangover. Of course, it is always a good idea to accompany this perfectly acidic and fresh dish with a cold beer.
– A Nat Geo Galapagos culinary experience: Chef Fabricio with our Nat Geo guests –
Wahoo Ceviche a la Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel!
If there is something I can happily say about my cooking partners is that they did such a good job with the recipe that we never had to make any corrections. Once we were done with the cooking and we got to taste the final product, I could only say the flavour was perfect! I even asked them if they were interested in working with me at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. They rejected my offer only because they had obligations waiting for them back home.
I felt an immense satisfaction when I saw Mary Rose and Lisa leave with a big smile on their faces. I realized that, when it comes to cooking, one has the opportunity to connect and create great friendships, all while getting to know a little more about other languages and cultures. I now know that I have two new friends and I hope that I can visit them over in their country one day so that we can cook together again.
– The final product –