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50 Best Editorial – 22/11/2022
The 10th edition of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, saw the region’s gastronomic community converge on the city of Mérida in Yucatán, Mexico, for several days of culinary discovery, celebrations and much-deserved recognition.
From traditional bites to the best contemporary gastronomy, and from culinary conferences to the star-studded awards ceremony, enjoy these 24 postcards that summarise everything that happened at this year’s events
1. The community discovers Yucatán’s culinary treasures
To kick off the festivities, the gastronomic community gathered at restaurant Ku’uk in Mérida, where renowned local chef Pedro Evia curated a menu of the best dishes from the last decade of his eatery. Highlights included the chef’s mole, made with dates and black persimmon and accompanied by sunflower petals and seeds, and Cerdo Pelón, a dish of slow-cooked Creole suckling pig with lentils.
2. Latin America’s finest chocolatier crafts some delicious desserts
The dinner at Ku’uk culminated in a dessert by Luis Robledo, who was named Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef in 2019, including a delicious combination of mandarin, hazelnut praline, goat’s cheese, green apple and arugula, as well as unique truffles made with República del Cacao chocolate.
3. Mexico’s best bartenders shake up a storm
To complement the delicious dinner, Gina Barbachano from Hanky Panky was joined by Gabriela Lozada from Brujas (respectively No.13 and No.64 in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022) to provide a selection of outstanding tipples for the guests, including the Casa Batlló, featuring Tequila Ocho, mezcal and a caprese cordial.
4. #50BestTalks: Cocina Consciente puts the focus on community and sustainability
At #50BestTalks, 50 Best’s signature thought-leadership forum held at the Hyatt Regency Mérida, an elite group of food personalities shone a spotlight on more ethical ways of cooking. Gastromotiva founder David Hertz, from Brazil, spoke of the power of social gastronomy to unite beyond borders, while Debora Fadul, chef-owner of Diacá in Guatemala City, proposed a new vision of gastronomy with producers at its heart.
5. Cochinita pibil steals the show
As part of #50BestTalks, traditional Mayan chef Rosalia Chay Chuc from the Yaxunah community revealed the secrets of her cochinita pibil tacos, made exclusively with creole pork cooked in an earthen oven, and demonstrated how she makes her unique meat marinade (recado) on stage.
6. The Chefs’ Feast provides a taste of Yucatecan culture
On the day before the awards ceremony, the region’s culinary community came together at the Chefs’ Feast at Chablé Resort. They were treated to an authentic display of Yucatán’s flavours, from hand-made corn tortillas filled with lechón (suckling pig) to black tacos al pastor and a raw bar with oysters, clams and octopus. Folkloric dances contributed to the cheerful mood and anticipation for the ceremony the next day.
7. Latin America’s best chefs share tacos around the fire
With chefs and restaurateurs from across the Latin American region reunited for the first time since 2019, good times were had by all, with many taking the chance to pose in groups for the cameras. In this photo, see if you can spot chefs Renzo Garibaldi, Mitsuharu Tsumura, Rafael Osterling, Virgilio Martínez, Pía León and Pablo Rivero, among others.
8. Guests arrive in style at the gala awards evening
Pulling up in sleek Volvo cars, the region’s top chefs, media and food-lovers converged at the Centro Internacional de Congresos de Yucatán in Mérida. The red carpet and drinks reception were buzzing with anticipation and excitement.
9. Brazilians looking on point on the red carpet
Chefs from all over Brazil gathered at the media wall on arrival at the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 awards ceremony for an epic team photo.
10. Talk, laughter and a tequila tipple
Before taking their seats for the countdown, guests were tempted by small bites including macarons, tacos and a selection of cocktails.
11. Chefs show their moves at the drinks reception
The 360-degree camera was a popular spot at the cocktail reception, leading to multi-national snaps. In this photo, chef Carolina Bazán from Ambrosía Bistro in Santiago is joined by Jaime Rodríguez of Celele in Cartagena and Gerardo Vázquez Lugo of Nicos in Mexico City.
12. Cooks from Central America don the coveted red scarfs
The teams of restaurants from across Latin America met on the red carpet wearing the iconic 50 Best red scarves. Central America stood arm-in-arm ahead of the awards ceremony, with representatives of restaurants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama.
13. Chef Jonatan Gómez Luna receives the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2022
Winner of the only peer-voted accolade in the programme, convivial chef Jonatan Gómez Luna accepted the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award in front of his applauding contemporaries. Gómez Luna deconstructs and reimagines traditional Mexican dishes at his restaurant, Le Chique, in Cancún.
14. The American Express One To Watch Award goes to Ancestral
Mauricio López and Sebastián Giménez picked up the trophy on behalf of Ancestral, the up-and-coming Bolivian restaurant utilising fire to breathe life into La Paz’s culinary scene.
15. Pía Salazar becomes Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef 2022, sponsored by República del Cacao
Known for her formidable avant-garde confectionery showcasing Ecuador’s endemic pantry, Pía Salazar was surprised with the individual award, while her and husband Alejandro Chamorro’s eatery, Nuema, was named The Best Restaurant in Ecuador.
16. Oteque is honoured with the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award
A smiling Alberto Landgraf received the award on stage from legends Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore of Best of the Best restaurant Osteria Francescana. Showcasing the best flavours of Brazil with panache and exquisite attention to detail, Oteque is a worthy winner of the coveted accolade.
17. Pablo Rivero is the inaugural Beronia Latin America’s Best Sommelier
The newest individual award in the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants programme went to Don Julio’s inimitable restaurateur-sommelier, Pablo Rivero. Famous for championing the traditional parrilla concept in Buenos Aires, Rivero’s restaurant is also home to a cellar with more than 12,000 labels.
18. Diacá picks up the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2022
Chef Debora Fadul’s restaurant came out on top thanks to its produce-centric attitude, plant-forward menu and standout, contemporary Guatemalan fare. Fadul was joined on stage by Jordi Roca of Best of the Best restaurant El Celler de Can Roca.
19. The Icon Award 2022 with Volvo is presented to Rafael Rincón
Social entrepreneur, creator of Fundación Gastronomía Social and co-founder of Ñam, Chile’s first gastronomic festival, Rincón was honoured at the awards ceremony for his tireless efforts to change the world for the better through food.
20. Manoella Buffara is named Latin America’s Best Female Chef
Game-changing chef Manoella Buffara was presented the trophy by former World’s Best Female Chef Dominique Crenn. With her ingenious culinary creations and dedication to southern Brazilian produce, Buffara is catapulting Curitiba onto the gastronomic map.
21. Fauna is hailed with the Highest New Entry Award 2022
Chef David Castro Hussong and pastry chef Maribel Aldaco Silva’s restaurant burst onto this year’s list at No.16. The pair took home the trophy that honours their boundless culinary creativity, experimental flavours and stunning snapshot of Baja California.
22. Maito is lauded with the Highest Climber Award
Grinning chef Mario Castrellón accepted the trophy alongside team members Cristina Perez and Rafael Reyes. Shooting up the rankings from No.42 to No.6, Maito is making waves with its unique blend of Panamanian, Afro, Creole and Cantonese cuisines.
23. Central is crowned The Best Restaurant in Latin America 2022, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna
Central received the ultimate accolade at this year’s award ceremony. Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León were joined by their team on stage as they celebrated being ranked No.1 in the regular annual vote for the first time since 2016.
24. See you next year!
After several days of celebration, stimulating discussion and delicious Yucatecan food, the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 edition came to a close. Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2023 edition next year.
Now catch up on the best moments from the celebrations with the video:
The list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced on Tuesday 15th November. Follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook, find us on Twitter, tag #LatAm50Best and subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest news.
Reporting by Giulia Sgarbi and Chloe Vialou-Clark