Rodolfo Guzmán’s character is probably best defined by one core characteristic: a quiet but steely determination. Anyone less committed to his work and his principles might have quit the business when, a few years ago, his Santiago restaurant remained half-empty and his bank account almost completely so.
But Guzmán’s belief in Boragó and, more broadly, in his country’s biodiversity, culinary traditions and future potential won through. Today, this contemporarily designed dining destination is not only fully booked months ahead, but is ranked No.2 in Latin America as a whole. Furthermore, its unpretentious chef-owner is the recipient of this year’s Chefs’ Choice Award, voted for by his fellow culinary professionals.
After working in Spain under highly regarded chefs including Andrés Madrigal and Andoni Luis Aduriz, Guzmán opened Boragó in 2006. But Chilean diners are conservative – and this pioneering chef uses ingredients that, though sourced closer to home, are as unfamiliar to locals as to overseas visitors. Think obscure mountain herbs, rare seaweeds, prune flowers, wild berries and almond kefir yoghurt, perhaps paired with venison, veal or the freshest fish.
Guzmán is inspired by his rural childhood experiences, Chile’s rich and varied natural larder and the Mapuche community’s traditions of living off the land, experimenting with and documenting indigenous ingredients along the way. As Guzmán himself says: “We need to look back so we can walk forwards.”
The restaurant’s ever-evolving offer features solely Chilean produce and relies on a network of some 200 local foragers, farmers and producers. Strictly tied to seasonality and sustainability, upwards of 700 dish variations will feature on the 18-course tasting menu throughout the course of the year.
Santiago is now considered one of the globe’s up and coming culinary hot spots – a fact that Guzmán is still getting his head around. “People used to say that there was no good food in Chile. Now people from all over the world are travelling to eat here.” The main attraction? A humble chef delivering a genuinely unique dining experience.
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