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Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2021

Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2021

Celele

Cartagena, Colombia

Stretching the boundaries of Colombian-Caribbean cooking and hospitality

Dynamic duo Jaime Rodríguez and Sebastián Pinzón have always put the diners’ experience first in their vibrant restaurant, Celele. Determined to provide for others during the pandemic, the restaurant shipped delivery boxes all over Colombia, showcasing unique products from its artisanal suppliers. Now able to open its doors again, Celele is focusing its concept on the incredible wealth of information that can be gleaned from a dish or even a single ingredient, creating an engaging experience that delights and educates guests on the intricacies of Colombian-Caribbean culinary culture.

Rodríguez and Pinzón certainly didn’t rush when it came to Celele, spending years exploring the Caribbean coast of Colombia. They put in the miles metaphorical and physical as they travelled from the island of San Andrés to the Guajira peninsula and across the Alto Sinú department, meeting indigenous people and discovering new flavours and ingredients. They researched techniques and documented recipes that were in danger of being lost in a bid to capture the authentic identity of the region.

The research initiative was dubbed Proyecto Caribe Lab and its goal was to push the boundaries of Caribbean food and prove it is much more than just fried fish, rice and patacones (fried plantain). The talented chefs showcased their experimental take – which melds Spanish, African and indigenous influences – on the region’s culinary heritage at regular pop-up dinners in Cartagena before opening Celele in the bohemian Getsemaní neighbourhood in December 2018.

Since then, Celele has become the jewel in the crown of Cartagena’s burgeoning culinary scene, with the 30-cover restaurant turning into a must-visit gastronomic stop. Diners can choose from the à la carte menu, but for the full experience a 10-course tasting menu explores everything the Caribbean has to offer, accompanied by a thoughtful drinks flight of regional craft beers, cocktails made with exotic Colombian fruits, fermented spirits and wines.

The opening of the restaurant didn’t signal the end of innovation for Proyecto Caribe Lab. Celele’s menu continues to evolve, with Rodríguez responsible for creative development and research and Pinzón the chef for sustainable development and R&D. Both are involved in crafting Celele’s unique hospitality, training the young front of house team and putting Colombian-Caribbean cuisine on the global gastronomic map.

Social causes were always at the heart of the project, with the aim to improve the lives of farmers, less-fortunate families, artisans and micro-producers they met across Caribbean Colombia by sourcing all ingredients locally, as well as promoting biodiversity and sustainability. Through its many projects and facets, Celele is proving that hospitality is much more than a word – it is a concept that runs through everything you do.

Read the interview with Celele's Rodríguez and Pinzón, and watch the video: 
The Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award recognises a restaurant that has gone above and beyond to support its customers and deliver a new model of hospitality throughout the recent difficulties. Five establishments were shortlisted for the accolade, with Celele crowned as winner on 22nd November 2021. The other shortlisted candidates were:

- Ambrosía, Santiago, Chile
- Maito, Panama City, Panama
- Mishiguene, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Rosetta, Mexico City, Mexico

Contact

Calle del Espiritu Santo, cr 10c # 29 – 200, Getsemaní, Cartagena, Colombia

+57 301 742 0389 Visit Celele's Website Visit Celele on Instagram