Panama Gastronomica 1st Day

A very hectic way to start my day, we had to wake up very early, left home without breakfast but brought snacks with me at least and my sweet folks got me a water bottle to take along with me.  I also left home without my wallet but it was a good thing to have my Dad nearby; he brought me some cash so I am not penniless the whole day.

Arriving to the Hotel El Panama (where the festival is taking place), I am so excited to see everything set up already, I take a seat on the first row and there it was Chef Elena apologizing for the event starting passed the scheduled time.

Chef Collins started the Conference, explaining the “tomate de arbol” and how his family brought this and “naranjilla” from Ecuador, I got so excited to hear this that after the conference I requested him his email so I can obtain more information on this and I can write an article about it, he promised he will tell me the story.

He made a dessert of Tomate de Arbol, cooked them in water, sugar and lemon juice.  Used this juice to make a shot with vodka, and also blended the tomatoes to make a sauce.  Baked some sort of Baklava but a thinner version and cut them in very long triangles as you can see on the picture.  Then he made foam with the goat cheese and milk.

I wish Avi Barak’s presentation wouldn’t have been cancelled.  Maybe next year we will hear from his tropical flavors.

El Chicheme from Chef Melissa was a really informative segment, she shared with us a documentary she made on bollos and tamales in Chorrera, where the Chicharron Bollo was the star (a bollo is a dough made of cooked “old corn” that has butter and some seasonings, the chicharron is pork fried skin, it was chopped and mixed along with the dough).

Little details such as we wrap our tamales in Panama with Banana leaves and then Bijao leaves, you should not use aluminum paper, etc, where taken by the audience with a lot of enthusiasm.  She recommended to wrap the bollo in a Palma Real leaf, and after her presentation everyone went almost running to the Stand outside the conference where the lady who was in the documentary was actually selling those bollos, my parents loved it, me I didn’t try them, I had more ceviche that night!

Las Curbitaceas de André Lestienne, Pastry chef at the Club Union.  one of the thing I remember the most of his piece was the comment on how Zapayo came from Egypt, from there this Chef really surprised me that with the little time he has been here (I think less than 2 years), he has worked so much with tropical fruits, and really fell in love with them, I actually asked him about his favorite vegetables or fruits and he mentioned the “Chayote” I was in shock, he said it is almost like a pear, and I tought and remembered we usually use it for salads and that is it!  Now I wish I bought the marmalade he was selling at his stand.

(correction, the Chef Lestienne has lived in Panama for 12 years and he is the Executive Chef at the Club Union, apologies Chef! =)

Chef Elena (organizer of this event) and Chef Luis Young, these two Chef brought the Cocina del Barrio to Panama Gastronomica. I believe Cocina del Barrio translation could be “Ghetto Food” or something like that.  The food that comes out of a necessity to cover expenses, which is very interesting since my grandma has already mentioned me in the past how the days she didn’t have a penny in her pocket, she would ask for corn and work on empanadas and tortillas to sell, because she had to.

Chef Elena presented a video on Rio Abajo’s Saus (pickled pig’s trotters), and Chorrillo’s fried fish, though she explained El Chorrillo was a very dangerous area so she went to a different place to get the video shot.  They were both very traditional and I liked the touch of garlic the lady added to the Saus on the video, on the other hand I felt the fried fish was a different one than the classic one offered in El Chorrillo, still it looked delicious.

Chef Luis did a deconstruction of both dishes, Sous-Vide technique for both and on the picture I hope you can see the different way he composed his dish.  They looked interesting, I am sure because of the technique the flavors were amazing, though I am still not sure if I want my Saus boneless!

Another big fan of Chef Jose Andres, this was Chef Alvaro Perrino from El Bodegon, he may be the first Chef that I know who will have a tasting room in Panama, and it really breaks my heart I won’t be here by the time he opens it.  His theme “Nuestras Tapas” was a new take on classic tapas, without falling in the classic deconstruction he went with inspiration and smaller portions with cuter presentations, on the picture you will see how he served both gazpachos on test tubes, the Gamba (shrimp) was serve in a stick, the Tortilla Española was served in a shot and he also made potato chips explaning how when in his childhood in Spain he and his friends would go running after football to buy these chips, it was a fun presentation.

Everyone knew Chef Pedro was running a little behind nobody cared when he started his presentation it was that fun and hilarious!  Before his segment I was so tired but once he started talking it was better than a Capuccino with 4 shots of espresso.  He explained how he is self taught, how he doesn’t care about rules, he is just a rebel and I loved every bit of it.  I had so much fun I couldn’t take picture of his dishes, they were a risotto and a paella.

The last presentation, by the Chilean Chef Guillermo Rodriguez. He mentioned so many good things, how we have to work with what he have already, how when we travel abroad we should always share some of our beautiful and tasty gastronomy.  He took 2 traditional Chilean dishes who aftewards would never look again like comfort food.

Overall on the first day of this event.

I know I am quite late uploading this post, and I still have 3 days of the event to cover, but for now I can say that I won’t think too much about it and just enjoy the time until I get all my posts up.

All the pics are without name. if you have any questions sent me an email at

¡a comer!


  1. Hola estoy buscando la receta original o antigua de la carne en palito que tanto comía en los carnavales, ferias y la he buscado en el internet pero salen otros ingredientes que se no se usaban antes.
    Por favor si ustedes la tienen me la pueden hacer llegar.

    Muchas gracias

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