The food scene is buzzing in Bolivia. Why? Claus Meyer, is back on the scene with another culinary revolution up his sleeves. It is hard to read any article on the top restaurants in the world without coming across Noma, the 2 Michelin starred restaurant which he co-founded. Its fame means it is near impossible to get a table here, but not to worry, Meyer’s ambitious new venture means that with a mere flight to Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, you can sample his latest creation in the form of Gustu.
Gustu opened its doors earlier this summer to a select group of local elite and international diners who braved the dizzying heights of Bolivia’s bustling capital, La Paz. Meyer’s choice of location has evoked surprise, after all, La Paz is perhaps the geographical and economical opposite to the home of Noma, Copenhagen. But in fact, his biggest innovation is his choice of Bolivian cuisine as the next candidate for his high precision, molecular approach which transformed Noma into a household name. So far, Bolivia’s most recognizable culinary exports consist of super food favourite, quinoa and stodgy beans, but Meyer is out to change this. Gustu’s menu, which sources only local ingredients, represents a powerful ambition to bring Bolivian cuisine to the ever increasing number of gastro-tourists in constant search for exciting flavours and the next big thing.
Its menu certainly doesn’t disappoint – you won’t be finding beans and rice here. Instead feast on a menu which incorporates Ox cheeks perfumed with kallampa mushrooms or llama filet with chuño (dehydrated potatos ) glazed in an apple and banana syrup, enough to fulfil the fantasies of any meat lover, whilst delicately balancing Bolivia’s unique flavours and aromas. Even its drinks are homegrown, with wines are sourced from Bolivia’s own high altitude vineyards (just over the border from the better known Argentine wine producing region of Salta), even Gustu’s cocktails forego vodka and rum for the five hundred year old Bolivian grape based spirit, Singani.
The ambitiously sourced and conceived menu represents only part of the series of contradictions and difficulties which Gustu takes in its stride. Although the audience is international and the price range is a far reach for the average resident of La Paz, Gustu is has firmly rooted itself in local social initiatives. The whole restaurant is owned by Melting Pot Bolivia, a non-profit organization which trains underprivileged local youths to become world class chefs and waiters. Lets hope that Gustu’s local culinary initiative becomes the international inspiration it aspires to be, showing us that quinoa is really only the tip of the iceberg.
Tempted to book a flight to La Paz for the aromatic delights of Gustu? Feel free to contact us at Dehouche for hotel advice, the hottest spots and insider knowledge!