A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to be part of a great experience preparing traditional Galapagos food; and not only for me as a chef, but for the entire Finch Bay team. We were hired to cook a VIP dinner here in the Galapagos Islands for Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, his wife, his team and a special guest that was none other than Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel was requested to cook for very house that they were staying at on Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos. Our whole team rose to the occasion and we couldn’t have been happier with how well everything turned out. Adding to our purpose of creating traditional Galapagos food, we took this opportunity get super creative inventive while making the most out of the amazing ingredients from our land and the bountiful Galapagos waters. Cooking for Presidents is no easy task, but showing the world all the possibilities that exist when it comes to preparing traditional Galapagos food is a goal me and my culinary team fully dove into!
The Menu: Our Little Spin on Traditional Galapagos Food
We designed a unique menu for the evening that included several of the emblematic and endemic goods that are found throughout the islands. Our carefully-crafted menu included:
- Smoked octopus with potato and sweet pepper foam
- Red tuna ceviche with sweet and sour orange sauce
- Passion fruit sorbet infused with tequila
- Lobster with coconut sauce and a garlic and saffron butter accompanied with green plantain patacones and spicy pico de gallo
- Coulant with 72% cacao Hoja Verde chocolate, ginger ice cream and vanilla foam infused with frankincense
We started our mise en place (meal prep) early in the morning, so that everything, including any and all necessary kitchenware, would be ready for the evening. The logistics were actually a lot of fun! Remember that we’re talking about the Galapagos Islands here: it’s not like we have a truck at our disposal that we can just drive down the road. For transportation, we actually had to find the next best thing – a tractor. We hired one that was big enough to move all our kitchenware and ingredients over to the harbor from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. We then moved everything onto a boat to transfer everything from Punta Estrada to Puerto Ayora. Once we got to the other side, we put it all inside an actual truck that helped move everything over to the house where the President was staying.
Ready, steady, go!
The President’s security detail was extremely thorough. They checked all the food items as well as the kitchenware we brought with us. They also took samples of the food we had already cooked and passed it through a scanner to see if it was in good condition and if it complied with their safety standards. Obviously, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel’s Restaurant passed the test! Everything here is always prepared fresh and only uses the best quality ingredients!
Once we got the green light from security, we were finally ready to put the best of our abilities to the test!
Our team in charge of providing catering for this special event included only 4 people from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel: Cesar, the Maître; Johanna, Captain of Waiters; Sebastian the Sous Chef; and myself – the chef!
We took over the kitchen in the President’s house and continued organizing and preparing everything for the event which was set to begin at 8:00 pm. If there is one thing about official events like these, especially presidential ones, it’s that they start right on time.
We ended up cooking an out-of-this-world meal for the Presidents of Chile and our beloved country of Ecuador, the First Lady, and the Chancellors and Ambassadors of both countries. Everything went as smoothly as the turquoise waters of the Galapagos sea. So when it was all over, we all collectively let out a giant sigh a relief!
An Evening with Traditional Galapagos Food: Conversation and Everlasting Memories
When the dinner was finally finished, I went out to the dining room to greet the dignitaries that we had the pleasure of cooking for that evening. I took my time to explain each individual dish, focusing mostly on the ingredients and highlighting the fact that these came from the islands. Our guests expressed their gratitude, happiness and satisfaction over how delicious the dinner had been, commenting that it had served as the perfect complement to an evening filled with friendly and diplomatic conversation. They also showed a lot of curiosity and interest in what the ingredients were and how, exactly, we had prepared them.
I can’t say it enough: I love my job! And what I love most about it is making people happy with my food, transmitting the passion that my team and I imbue every dish with, and creating memorable experiences that will hopefully remain in the hearts of our guests forever! We truly want our guests to take a bit of the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel back home with them and have it remain as one of their fondest memories of the archipelago. On this occasion, we were able to honour our President and President Bachelet, with whom we were able to share a little taste of Ecuador, traditional Galapagos food, the unique ingredients found here and, most importantly, a piece of our hearts that went into each and every one of the dishes we cooked. I am thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we had as part of the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel team. It was truly an honour to cook for the Presidents and their respective teams.