In August, Sol y Luna played host to the first ever gathering of Relais & Chateaux chefs from Central and South America.
A temperance of chefs
23 chefs from as far as the jungles of Iguazu, the deserts of the Atacama, the grasslands of Argentina and the waters of the Galapagos Islands travelled to Peru’s Sacred Valley for four days of meetings, talks and cooking workshops.
The trip was a chance for this incredibly talented group to swap ideas, inspire and be inspired, meet up and get to know colleagues from fellow Relais & Chateaux properties, and learn more about the culture and unique gastronomy of the Peruvian uplands.
We were delighted to host the event, with our hotel, surrounded by tranquil and beautiful gardens, and the spectacular Andes beyond, providing the perfect backdrop for this culinary meeting of minds.
“The Relais & Châteaux Chef’s Meeting was the first event of the sort and I was lucky to be able to host with Sol y Luna owner Petit, here at the hotel” explained Sol y Luna’s own head chef José Libaque.
“It was a true pleasure to be able to spend time with my fellow R&C chefs for the first time. Kitchen staff are not always brought forward but it is by being together that we realised we have so much to share and so many ideas to give each other!”
A blend of activities
The four days were spent getting to know the hotel and exploring the incredible scenery in the Sacred Valley, including the Maras salt mines and Incan agricultural terraces at Moray, as well as nearby farms, markets and some of Sol y Luna’s local suppliers.
The chefs were introduced to Manuel Choqque, a fourth generation farmer based near Sol y Luna who cultivates almost 400 varieties of native potatoes. In the last few years, Manuel has developed and launched his own wine brand, Miskioca, made from his locally grown crops.
His rosé, red, white and orange wines are made by cooking the potatoes down to a juice, before fermenting them for six months and resting the bottles for a further 60 days.
Manuel recently featured in the World’s 50 Best as a game-changing producer influencing the future of gastronomy, whilst his wines are sold throughout Peru and beyond, including to Central in Lima, regularly voted as Latin America’s finest restaurant.
A recipe for success
One evening was spent at our ranch, Wayra, where the chefs were treated to a traditional horse show using our very own Peruvian Pasos, followed by a drama show by the Cusi Wasi theatre company and a pisco sour demonstration.
The highlight of the evening was the Pachamanca, a symbolic dining ritual dating from pre-Incan times.
Pachamanca involves cooking local ingredients – potatoes, corn, stuffed peppers, beans and tamales, along with lamb, alpaca, pork, chicken and guinea pig – in an earthen oven buried underground, to symbolise returning our food to Mother Earth before it is consumed.
As part of the visit, the chefs accompanied Sol y Luna founder Petit Miribel to the Sol y Luna Home, which provides a safe, loving home for children who have suffered violence or neglect. Petit explained how she founded the Sol y Luna Foundation back in 1998, turning to tourism to help fund this incredible organisation.
The Foundation now includes a School, the Home, Paqari, which provides special needs support, and the Roots & Wings programme for further education, all of which is funded through private donations and income from the hotel itself.
The trip was a great success and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who took part. Our own chef José summed it up, speaking on behalf of all: “How great for me that it was in my own backyard! I am really looking forward to going to the next event and getting to meet again with my distant colleagues!”.
On the final night, an unforgettable “all hands” dinner took place, where all 23 chefs collaborated to prepare dishes that symbolised and represented all the corners of Central and South America from which they had visited.
Too many cooks? Not a bit of it!
“Hats off to Hotel Sol y Luna for hosting this event, providing a platform for our culinary experts to not only shape our goals and future direction, but also to openly discuss challenges and share best practices” declared Relais and Chateaux, as the chefs returned to their hotels and restaurants, armed with new ideas and inspiration for the future.