Home Flavors Chef Ayelet Vahnish Gal: “Fusing the native with what is brought from...

Chef Ayelet Vahnish Gal: “Fusing the native with what is brought from our country of origin allows us to create dishes that reflect the identity of Panama”

The contribution of people from other countries covers almost all professions and businesses in our society. In this edition we continue to discover how gastronomy also has a great influence from people who came to Panama to give the best of their talent. This is the case of Chef Ayelet Vahnish Gal, who arrived in Panama in the early 80’s due to her father’s work and had the opportunity to live her childhood and part of her adolescence in our country. Our guest in the Flavors segment returned to Panama after having completed military service in Israel and studied culinary arts in this country, as well as expanding her gastronomic experience in Paris. On this occasion she shares with The Visitor – El Visitante why she found a home in Panama to share her passion for gastronomy and how the local culture continues to influence each recipe.

What led you to want to develop your gastronomic potential in Panama, and what is different about this destination from others?
“The decision to develop my gastronomic potential in Panama was influenced by several factors. When I arrived in the country in 2003, I found a culinary scene that, while limited compared to other more recognized destinations, presented great potential and unique opportunities.

I opened my first restaurant in late 2003 with a focus on using these local ingredients and highlighting the gastronomic richness of Panama. I chose to include a wide selection of doughs and vegetables in my menu, since bread is one of my culinary passions.

What makes Panama different from other gastronomic destinations is its authenticity and its underexplored potential. Although at that time the country was not as recognized on the international gastronomic scene, I saw the opportunity to highlight its unique cuisine and contribute to the growth and development of the local culinary industry.”

How much do you feel the expat or foreign community contributes to local and regional activities in Panama?
“The expatriate or foreign community plays a significant role in local and regional affairs in Panama. Each individual brings with them a unique perspective, diverse experiences and specialized knowledge that enriches the country’s cultural and culinary scene.

What I find fascinating about living in a country that attracts people from all over the world is the richness of diversity and new ideas that are constantly generated. The interaction between different cultures and traditions creates a dynamic and stimulating environment that drives creativity and innovation in all aspects of life, including gastronomy.

As a foreign chef, I think it is important to recognize and value local ingredients and Panamanian culinary culture. Using local products and making an intelligent fusion between what is native and what is brought from our country of origin allows us to create unique and authentic dishes that reflect the identity and character of Panama.”

How have the food and traditions of Panama influenced your recipes and the experience you seek to create in the diner?
“The food and traditions of Panama have had a significant impact on my recipes and the experience I seek to create for my guests. I have always believed in the importance of using local ingredients in my dishes, as this not only guarantees freshness and food quality, but also honors and respects the rich culinary heritage of Panama.

Since arriving in this beautiful country, I have been captivated by the diversity of local products available, from seasonal vegetables to fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. These exceptional ingredients have become the basis for many of my culinary creations, offering a wide range of flavors and textures that are unique to this region.

Additionally, I have sought to integrate elements of Panamanian cuisine into my recipes, whether through preparation techniques, flavor combinations or creative presentations. I am inspired by Panama’s rich gastronomic history, which fuses indigenous, African, Spanish and Caribbean influences, and I try to reflect this diversity in my dishes.”

Photos courtesy: Chef Ayelet Vahnish Gal

Previous articleCasco Antiguo, a Historic Neighborhood with a Vibrant Expat Community
Next articleCoronado, a Beach Community with a Lifestyle that Attracts Many Expats


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here