You’re going to Bolivia?


“Your going to Bolivia? Why? You have already visited Bolivia?” says a relative. I had to gather my thoughts to not reply defensively. Dealing with family warrants a bit of restraint from getting emotional that is a work in progress for me. “Well, the first time in 2003, I only spent three months volunteering for an NGO gaining experience in public health. This time I have another goal to accomplish.” I excitingly explain the unique opening of Gustu Restaurant with Claus Meyer founder of NOMA restaurant (voted #1 of Worlds50BestRestaurants for three consecutive years) to open in La Paz, Bolivia. And the chance to work with the most professional chefs at the helm; Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari would be a once in a lifetime experience.

In February 2013, the NY Times article announced the opening of Gustu, fine-dining experience with indigenous Bolivian ingredients. With my basics and a specialized Latin Cuisine program from the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, immersion and exploration of Latin Cuisine seemed ideal. Like most recent culinary graduates the idea of traveling through Europe is a progressive step to understanding and practicing the Art of Cuisine. Could it be possible to travel and work? With counsel and a brutal honest chat with my brother and confidant, I packed up and sold things for income. With all the support and no responsibilities like a spouse or children, I really had no reason not to go away for a year. Time and youth would soon run out and now was the perfect time.

I left May 14, 2013. First stop La Paz, Bolivia.
Continuing on to Peru and hopefully Brazil.

Going away party menu:
Alma’s black bean salad with Tortilla Chips (Now @El Chilito, Austin, TX)
Roasted tomato salsa with Tortilla Chips (El Chile’s house salsa, Austin,TX)
Salsa Criolla Salad (Peruvian)
Cabbage and Avocado Salad (Chilean)
Beef Anticuchos with Salsa Dulce Aji Amarillo (Peruvian)
Camote y Choclo
Lechon Puerto Riqueño style
Black beans a la cazuela
White rice


Maribel invites people into a kitchen filled with unique Latin foods, chiles (ajies), and passion for the stories and tastes of Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico. She is excited to share her rich knowledge of modern and ancient food traditions with readers and eaters alike.

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