Rodolfo Guzmán is a Chilean ambassador. But not in the usual sense. Because, rather than sitting behind a desk, the master chef stands in the kitchen of his Boragó restaurant in Santiago de Chile, whipping up aware-ness of the Andean republic. He does so with his avant-gardist Endemic Cuisine, which only uses ingredients from Chile and attracts guests from all over the world. Rare ingredients that are not available here in Europe, such as white strawberries from the city of Purén, or Kra Kra fish from Easter Island, delight even the most discerning gourmets and prove that: politics can also be pleasant.
At the beginning, there was nothing to suggest that Guzmán would one day be a culinary ambassador for his native country. After all, he was set for a career as a professional water skier. But when it didn't pan out, despite his considerable talent, he attended cookery school to start training as a chef – a decision that still amazes him to this day: "I never thought of becoming a chef. I somehow just fell into it. But I loved it. I always had a great time in the kitchen." After completing his training in 2000, Guzmán moved to Spain to refine his skills.
Back then, Spain set the standard for modern cuisine, and the country was at its culinary pinnacle at the time. He enjoyed stints at the restaurants Azul Profundo and Balzac in Madrid, before landing at the famous Mugaritz in the Basque Country, run by Andoni Luis Aduriz. In 2004, he was drawn back to his beloved homeland, where over the subsequent years he worked in many positions in the kitchen and, after becoming head chef, became the partner in a restaurant.
In 2007, the time had finally come: Guzmán opened his own restaurant, Boragó, where he has since been realising his dream of a cuisine based on the endemic environment of Chile, a form of cooking
that cites the treasures of the country and reflects its richness and idiosyncrasies. "At Mugaritz I learned a lot, but the most important thing I learned was that the only limits are those that we set ourselves. It really opened my eyes. That's when I understood that we are culinary multimillionaires in Chile."
Guzmán only uses ingredients that originate from Chile. This also includes rare and unusual ingredients that were used by the indigenous peoples long before the Spanish arrived. Once or twice a week, Guzmán and his team go out foraging for ingredients for his restaurant – and they occasionally find some very rare ones. Such as mushrooms that only grow in native forest and only sprout from the ground every couple of years. From the Chilean treasures that they collect, Guzmán creates spectacular dishes, some of which he refines using ancient indigenous preparation techniques. The whole team share this enthusiasm: one day they might be up at an elevation of 3000 metres cutting a wild fruit that only grows one week a year and nowhere else on earth, and then the next day be cutting equally rare rock plants down at the coast. The result? Delicious creations such as Mapuches eggs al rescoldo, smoked cow on tepú with spicy wild herbs, or his Rica Rica fermented ice cream and chañar macaron. It didn't take long, of course, for his creativity to be discovered and the first awards to start rolling in: In 2007, Boragó was named Best New Restaurant by El Mercurio's Wikén magazine.
After more honors, the restaurant also made it onto the WBP Stars list of the 60 Best Restaurants in the World in 2012. Rodolfo Guzmán is a culinary ambassador for his home country Chile. With his cuisine based on the endemic environment of his country, which relies purely on ingredients from Chile, he raises awareness of the country's richness and diversity among gourmets. As befits an ambassador, he thereby nurtures culinary relationships with gourmets from all over the world.
A different top chef each month. It doesn‘t matter which continent or country they come from or whether they serve traditional, fusion or molecular cuisine. What matters most is the variety. And, of course, the high quality of the dishes.
Eckart Witzigmann, Chef of the Century and patron of Restaurant Ikarus, implemented the concept successfully from 2003 to 2013, together with Executive Chef Roland Trettl. Since January 2014, the Ikarus Concept has been continued under the patronage of Eckart Witzigmann and guidance of Martin Klein, who for many years was the partner and Chef de Cuisine of former Executive Chef Roland Trettl. Unique instead of mainstream, multi-faceted instead of simplistic, bold instead of boring, and cosmopolitan instead of narrow-minded will continue to be the motto under Martin. The result? Satisfied bons vivants who relish fine cuisine.
For the chefs of Restaurant Ikarus, the guest chef concept means adapting to a new menu, a new top chef and a new philosophy each and every month. This demands a high degree of talent, versatility and team spirit.
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Images © Helge Kirchberger / Red Bull Hangar-7