An exploration of Chilean produce from Santiago’s most talented chef
What makes it special: A play on the word ‘borage’ in Spanish, Santiago de Chile-based Boragó deals in territory rather than technique, according to chef Rodolfo Guzmán. He and his energetic team source native Chilean products used by the Mapuche indigenous people, physically gathering them from the Andes, the Pacific coast and every hill and valley in between; they also work with tiny producers and foragers. The end result is Endémica, a menu starring diverse preparations that can change during the course of an evening according to produce supply, paired with natural and biodynamic wine or juices.
How many endemic Chilean species will I eat? Nine years into Boragó and Guzmán’s understanding and timing with respect to when products flourish in particular micro seasons – and how to use them – is greater than ever. Take uvas de montaña, wild grapes (not actually grapes) from the conifer family available for just five weeks a year; they form part of a wild leaf and lamb salad. Loyo, for example, is a giant mushroom with a tiny four-week harvesting window. Besides serving ingredients that many customers have never heard of, Guzmán has also expanded his repertoire. In his own words: “Seven years ago, one ingredient meant one possibility. Today it means 300.”
The space: Walk up to Boragó’s minimalist-style façade in the swanky Vitacura neighbourhood, and a whole lamb might well be slowly roasting on a cross-shaped spit on the terrace by the front door, a sign of flavours to come. Seated at tables made from Chiloé-sourced lumber, diners can witness some of the culinary action through the kitchen’s floor-to-ceiling windows; there’s also a small herb garden at the back. Ask to take a peek at the first-floor test kitchen, where Conectáz (see below) and other research magic takes place.
Other projects: In 2017, Guzmán published his first book, Boragó: Coming from the South, a 100-recipe tome. He is also working on Conectáz, Chile’s first encyclopedia categorising and cataloguing Chilean products, at Test Kitchen and Lab Kitchen at Santiago’s Catholic University, where one fascinating discovery is turning vegetables into protein. Guzmán also co-founded the Ngelemen symposium that discusses the world’s endemic pantry, and pops up around the world with the Gelinaz chefs collective.