When Carlos García heard that the local children’s hospital in Caracas did not have enough food to feed its patients, he was struck by the effects of extreme poverty in his country, Venezuela. He was approached with an idea of making soup to feed 180 kids, and soon became part of a new foundation called Barriga Llena, Corazón Contento, meaning Fully belly, Happy heart, in 2016.
Since then, food shortages and political crises have worsened in Venezuela, and García has left his home country for Miami. But there he continues to support the foundation, making sure a percentage of the proceeds from the soup sold at his restaurants, Obra Kitchen Table in Miami and Alto in Caracas, is donated to the starving back home. As perhaps the most popular and well-known chef in Venezuela, he is using his voice for positive change.
García has been a powerful presence in Latin America gastronomy for many years. After training at world-class Spanish restaurants El Bulli and El Celler de Can Roca, he returned to South America to work as head chef at Malabar in Lima in 2003. Four years later, he moved back to the Venezuelan capital to open his first solo restaurant, Alto, creating a gastronomic experience comparable with the finest in the world. There he created locally and Mediterranean-influenced dishes such as lamb tartare with coconut and curry, and don’t-miss desserts such as his signature Land of Cacao, a dish of four different textures of chocolate.
Alto continues in Caracas in spite of extreme food shortages, and García still oversees the restaurant while he bases himself in Miami at Obra, which opened in 2018. Located in the trendy Brickell district, the casual all-day restaurant serves Latin America-influenced cuisine such as yucca and bacon millefeuille and hearty dishes such as octopus bucatini carbonara. A cheerful bar also offers cocktails such a ‘non-traditional’ negroni featuring mezcal, and a ‘Guanatini’ with melon vodka, St Germaine, lychee and burnt guanábana, a South American fruit.
Though he is no longer based in Venezuela, García continues to support his country and its people with passion, and is a strong presence on social media, where he fights for the causes closest to his heart through the medium of food. He has earned the full respect of his colleagues across both South and North America, and remains a firm favourite of the chefs of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. As such, he is a worthy winner of the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Estrella Damm – the only accolade voted by the 50 chefs whose restaurants are on this year’s list.
Primera Avenida de Los Palos Grandes con Tercera Trasversal