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Chef Andrea Pinzon: “Chefs must leave a positive mark on earth and on the people. We are agents of change.”

Every day young talents are enrolling in gastronomy with greater force.  Their energy, passion and innovative ideas are nowing forward the development of this field in the country. Precisely, Panamanian tourism requires this new way of doing things so that its potential also begins to develop as it has long deserved. A good reason to invite Chef Andrea Pinzon, a gastronomic talent who, at 28 years old, has had the opportunity to study in Switzerland and San Sebastian, Spain, as well as to launch her own venture Baran Blü.

Our guest has such a different vision that the protagonists of her culinary creations are vegetables, something that is not common in our country, but that is revolutionizing the way we fully enjoy food. On this occasion, she shares with us her vision and perceptions about gastronomy and its place in Panamanian tourism.

What led you to become a Chef and why is this profession so important in Panama today?

“Since I was a child, I always liked to cook. I loved seeing the way dough turned into cookies and how heat could change the structure of something. I shared a lot with my dad when he let me make pancakes and other simple things.

I felt very close to people when my schoolmates ate a cookie I made for them and their faces changed. That’s why I think this profession is important, because we have the ability to touch people through food, and there is a powerful message behind every dish we serve. As chefs we have a very great responsibility to transmit a message that leaves a positive mark on the earth and on the people. We are agents of change.”

How does your culinary offering differ from others in Panama and what inspires you?

“Mainly because I only work with vegetable products, and on some occasions, dairy products and eggs. My inspiration is the fruits of the Panamanian land. Our land is generous, the diversity of our products is impressive, and what moves me every day is sharing with people all the potential that exists beyond what we are used to eating. Everything that can be achieved with our vegetables and fruits, stems, seeds and peels, is what allows us to develop a stronger and more unique gastronomic identity. My intention is for the vegetables to shine on their own, without having to look like something else, and to demonstrate that it is valid to eat a meatless dish a couple of times a week.”

Gastronomy grows every day in Panama, it is one of the most innovative. How can this field help make the tourist experience unforgettable in our country?

“Panama has something that many countries in our region do not have. Its geographical position and the passage of cultures throughout history. Now there are many offers promoting the multiculturalism of our country and I think that (plus the radical acceptance of our local product) is what is putting us on the map as an innovative gastronomy that celebrates its roots. That a tourist can come and enjoy Afro-Caribbean, Asian, Mesoamerican food, among many others, not because we want to be something more but because it is part of our history, it is unique and it will take us far if we continue celebrating it in a conscious and sustainable way.”

What Panamanian dishes should a tourist try on their first day visiting our country and why?

“Tamal de olla (tamale in a pot), because there are many tamales but this is the one that differentiates us. A good dim sum, because this is also Panama (and nowhere else in the world can you find this Chinese-Panamanian fusion). And a guacho, because it tells that part of the story that we are rice people and it is the basis of our diet”.

In your opinion, which sectors of Panama have the greatest potential to become internationally renowned gastronomic destinations?

“The province of Azuero and Cocle. The biodiversity in these areas is impressive and they contain a large part of the products that represent us as a country.”

Photos courtesy: Chef Andrea Pinzon

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