Andres Lombo is Executive Chef at RESTAURANTE LA ROCCA in Bogotá. If you like Colombian food you will love this article.

 

You currently work as Executive Chef at RESTAURANTE LA ROCCA in Bogotá, Colombia. Tell us about how you got started as a chef. Why did you decide on cooking professionally?

For a long time. The age of fifteen. It is a topic. It is a theme of the kitchen, instilled in love, passion and the delivery of each dish. I decided to study gastronomy in life and life in life, after having made the decision of what was the moment to learn the different methods and techniques of elaboration applied to this wide world.

 

Which culinary school did you attend?

I had the fortune to study and train as a cook, but above all to venture into reality, it was the moment of a great beginning in this world, in which you will learn the matter and essence that exists in each of the elements. I was trained in the School of Hospitality Bilbao Colombia, obtaining the degree in international cuisine, where I had the opportunity to do the double degree in the management of Hotel and Gastronomic companies awarded by the Artxanda Superior School of Hospitality – Bilbao. Among other studies and diplomas, service, tasting and protocol, assembly and structure of dishes, creative and molecular cuisine, counting on the formation of qualifications.
Mentors with a wide recognition, where I also had the luck of having the participation of great chefs with a wide baggage and recognition at a national and international level, such as Paco Roncero – Álvaro Garrido “Mina Bilbao Restaurant” – Marcello Chiaramonte – Juan Manuel Barrientos “Restaurant el Cielo” among others.

 

What will you never forget about your first year as a chef?

I will never forget that joy and pride that I felt to be really fulfilling the dream of forming professionally and to have the good fortune of being able to share and learn from these greats of gastronomy.

 

Every career starts with hard moments when you think about giving up. Were there such moments in your career, and how did you overcome them?

I can not deny that as in any profession there are moments when things happen that make you doubt, but always with my firmness and mind that the dream of achieving my goals was stronger and in this way the obstacles always passed to be part of a second plane.

 

What is the best part of being a chef?

Fabulous meeting that in your cook or chef career you have the opportunity to show your emotions and passions reflected in the smile of each diner that proves your preparations.

 

What is the most difficult aspect to be a professional chef?

The dream of each chef as my own is to have the support and recognition of your work in function of all the development, learning and above all of your hard work to be every day better than the previous one, receiving ovations from the people who follow your work.

 

How are chefs considered in Columbia’s society in the past and how does it differ to the current situation?

The chefs of yesteryear, as were my uncles, who had the opportunity to work with large hotel chains and chef of the time very well known, cooked and innovated according to the cultures of the times, counting on the appearance of those of today that count with diverse techniques, cultures and technologies which show part of the transformation of the world gastronomy.

How would you describe the soul of Columbia’s cuisine best?

Our cuisine is diverse; beautiful I think we are very fortunate to have a wide variety of native products such as those of our vast Amazon rainforest.

 

And particular the soul of Bogota’s cuisine?

Speaking a bit about the culture and soul of our gastronomy Bogotana we have different dishes and ingredients but if we talk about some more cultural such as hot drinks, the famous canelazo, or spend a good afternoon temperándonos with a good hot chocolate , an aromatic fruit, accompanied by fabulous Colombian dough, not to mention our traditional Santa Fe.

 

Peru; Ecuador and Venezuela are Columbia’s neighbours. How is Columbia’s cuisine different and same with its neighbours?  

If we talk about each of the gastronomy of our neighbors such as Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela, we can say that each has a very broad gastronomic biodiversity without mentioning the international recognition as is the case of Peru. For me each one including our country Colombia we have our own stamp in this wide area, patrimonial, cultural and gastronomic.

 

Which ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques reflect the soul of Columbia’s best?

Speaking and a little deeper into our recipes and ingredients of the soul of our beloved country Colombia. As are the stews, starting with the potato of all the cooked chiguachía, the flagship of the parties in Choachi – Cundinamarca, the secrets of this chiguano banquet go back in the history of the colony; it has an antiquity of more than 120 years. – Pusandao “pacific Colombian” – Patarasca “Amazonia” – Arroz atollado “valle del Cauca” – Bandeja Paisa “Antioquia”.

 

What are the constant and varying elements of the Columbia’s cuisine?

We have elements in constants and variables in the whole issue of agriculture due to the high food product of imports where our producers and farmers are affected, to which we add the low demand in the purchase of their crops.

 

 

Modern Columbian cuisine, what does it mean for you?

If we talk about modern Colombian cuisine we enter into a contradiction in terms of the chefs of yesteryear who safeguard the traditionality of our cultural recipes, on the other hand there is the demand of the new rising wave of the gastronomic sector where the great majority of restaurants present to its guests local products of excellent quality mounted on different types of creative items a little out of the answer without saying that their presentations in the vast majority are simple deconstructions of these dishes.

 

How would you describe your own culinary style today?

Andrés Lombo style has the hallmark of our roots and origins of each Colombian product with the study developed meticulously embodied in the execution, combination and creation in the balance of each dish.

 

As Executive Chef at RESTAURANTE LA ROCCA in Bogotá, Colombia today, what is the culinary direction/ set up there?

As Executive Chef of the Restaurant La Rocca, we emphasize that we are pioneers in managing a brand not only in Bogota but also at the national level where we have had the opportunity to work hand in hand with various international chefs, showing the quality of a new concept in restaurants, diverse locations for radio and television, launch of recognized brands among others.

 

 

What are some of the lesser known spices and vegetables you use?

We have the opportunity in our country to have a great variety of spices and spices, plants, vegetables, native vegetables, in which a nice job is added by different chefs to make them part of their menus for their restaurants, working to make them known and reach the Colombian table as they are the case of wild seeds, star anise, linseed, insphingo, achiote.

 

Which unique cooking technique have you mastered?

Our cooking techniques are based on the ancestral roots of Colombian cuisine, directing them to a modern and creative theme in which different ways of showing a growing cuisine are explored.

 

What are the current trends / developments you see in Bogota’s culinary world?

Gastronomy in Bogotá has contributed to a repositioning in all ranges and sectors as is the theme of gourmet and healthy trends, having an annual growth in the best and most exclusive sectors of the city. This being one of the biggest attractions for tourists and visitors from around the world.

 

What does work mean for you?

I am one of the people who think that when you develop in a world where day by day you do what you like most in life, you could not call it work, because it is something that you do with love and the best disposition, effort to execute each day a better work in favor of always having the reward of gratitude to those you serve.

 

As a chef, you never stop learning: Curse or blessing?

Humans should always be in constant and with the thought of learning, I think that knowledge is one of the most important bases in our lives, for me it is a BLESSING to tell and surround myself with people who bring you and from whom you learn something new always

 

Fusion cuisine is a trend. In addition to this trend, the country cuisines evolve over the years and centuries, mainly due to influences from other cultures. Which sustainable external influences have the greatest influence on Columbia’s cuisine?

Speaking of external influences, we take part in a very important issue such as sustainable agricultural influences, these have a high impact on the Colombian gastronomic market, since it is time to start implementing and supporting our agricultural farmers more than being in the vast majority of small producers, we have adopted the position of encouraging more purchases from outsiders. Where we really should be supporting more agricultural exports, and the productive purchase of Colombian land.

 

In addition to influences from other cultures, other/new ingredients also influence the country’s cuisine. Which new ingredients have a formative influence on Columbia’s cuisine?

We cannot deny the reality of Colombian gastronomy that for many years was undervalued by chefs, businessmen and restaurant chains. But today we have become aware of this and little by little we have been growing remarkably and positively in the gastronomic field with a growing wave of new chefs and chefs passionate about the products of our Colombian land as are native potatoes.

 

Healthy nutrition and an understanding of our food; should start at a young age and be established as a school subject. Are there any initial tendencies/approaches in Columbia?

It is noteworthy that in the last decades, food has arisen various changes and modifications in all the food chains and methods in the traditional, being replaced by foods from our family basket with high energy density.

 

The Slow Food Movement is a very good idea, but it can often not be implemented in larger restaurants/hotels, because time is always pressing for the guests, or there are simply too many guests. Do you see a “solution” in the middle?

Slow Food trends, having a broad global growth in an average of more than 160 countries, giving a priority focused on promoting organic food with a high impact on sustainable consumption, the priority is to create awareness and make more sense of responsibility with the producers for each one of us in safeguarding our Colombian gastronomic heritage.

 

 

The kitchen has become so international and is always bringing new trends, themes… to the fore. Hand on heart; how do you always get along as a chef with this?

As a chef, I believe that each one of us must have a very clear priority about his own gastronomic concept. That is why it is clear that the avant-garde cuisine will continue to exist and having a space in each of the assemblies to creations of the new trends and techniques of each chef, being part of the inventions that this will continue to be present in restaurants and even in the kitchens of our houses.

 

What motto do you have for your work as a chef?

My motto as a chef is always to be willing to undertake new projects, to believe in our talent, to accept that there will always be someone better than us, to allow positive comments but to receive good negatives, to believe in our roots, to rescue our traditions, to take our products to make them our own and not to fear to innovate, to create, to merge without fearing to fall and get up whenever possible, that is the beauty of the kitchen.

 

What situations have helped you the most in your development as a chef?

I always keep in mind that to start we must be willing to live new experiences, to listen to others, to accept criticism and advice, we must travel, venture, get into our world, give ourselves to what we like. To learn more about our products we must allow each of them to risk knowing their origin and in this way give thanks to the farmers who work hard to deliver the products of their crops, and especially to continue in the process of development as a chef.

 

What do you do if you want to treat yourself to something special to eat?

Whenever I want to give myself a special gift to eat, the most rewarding thing in my life is being able to share with family and friends those of a beautiful bonfire and share a good wine.

 

What is one of your favourite local street food/ simple outside eat dish/place in Bogota?

One of my favorite dishes could fully ensure that there would be several, but if it is to name a badge we would talk about a delicious red snapper stew, in the best company my beloved mother Rosa prepared with her own hands.

 

 

There are lots of trends in the international culinary world. What are the real important developments you see and would like to become more important?

We have many factors, cultural and gastronomic trends internationally but without a doubt one of our strengths that we should bet on in our country is to potentially strengthen the Colombian gastronomic tourism.

 

As an innovative chef you need honest and hard feedback. Where do you get it from? 

We repeatedly fall into the constant credibility of objectively thinking that each montage or new creation of our authorship is perfect, but it is really where we really make the mistake, I think that in our profession it is vital to take into account each comment of the diners, their observations, and even try to be open to receive advice, it is in this way that listening to each word expressed to improve enriches me to be better every day.

 

Did your career as a chef change you as a person and if so, how?

Unquestionably make the decision to be a chef, has been fully the most correct way of life in which every day I assure myself and I feel in love with this beautiful profession, is an exceptional lifestyle not only as a professional but as a human being.

 

What do people often misunderstand about the job of a chef?

Maybe there are times when your friends, family, partners or even yourself work team, misinterpret your attitude when you adopt the position of wanting to do everything perfectly, where you want all your work to be reflected in excellence, is for It means that this monopolizes all your time and interest, making few moments of your social life in which you can share with them on different occasions.

 

Any place in the world you would like to work as chef one day?

I have always been a lover of culture and cuisine of Alaska without a doubt it is one of my future goals to work in this enriching country, since it has the best examples of the world such as sockeye, trout, the herring, black cod, local seaweed, crabs among many others being these much appreciated in their local cuisine.

 

 

If you would have the time to write a cookbook, what would it be about?

If I had the opportunity to write a cookbook, I would certainly talk about all the hard work, process and traceability that our farmers and farmers perform with great effort, this being the initial basis of our entire food chain, mainly from before and after after each person who decides to take as a profession the beautiful career of chef or chef taking into account that these are the pillars of everything, without counting on these passionate people who do not manage to have the opportunity to train but still day after day give everything themselves to learn more in techniques and methods of cooking in the wide world of gastronomy and adopt it as the greatest art in their lives taking it in their veins.

 

Thank you a lot Andres.

 

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