By Tamarindo News Staff Photo courtesy: Tamarindo Art Wave
Daysi Barrantes, a chef from Nicoya, took first place in an international culinary contest organized by the Tamarindo Arts Foundation (TAF), designed to encourage the use of Guanacaste´s organic ingredients and area plants in the gastronomic offerings.
The contest began in mid-July last year with tasting of dishes presented at the Cala Luna Hotel in Playa Langosta, where the initiatives to preserve the province´s cuisine and healthy food were developed.
The award will be presented during a special ceremony that will take place at Cala Luna Hotel on February 3, at 7 p.m. The ceremony will consist of a gala dinner by participants Fabien Mandrea, Sebastien Couratier (both of France), Leo Manzur (Argentina), Francesco Mascarucci (Italy), Christina Spilsbury, Rick Macsherry (United States) and winner Barrantes. All will be led by the chef of the Cala Luna Hotel, Italy’s Manuele Senis. According to the score of the judges, Barrantes won with 4.65 points, followed by Mandrea (4.32) and in third place, Mascarucci (4.19).
According to the TAF President, Griet Depypere, the initiative, supported by organizations such as the Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (CCTT), was implemented to develop the use of Costa Rican ingredients, especially those of nearby areas of Tamarindo, but also from other surrounding locations.
“The use of purchased processed products that could be used to enhance a better flavor of the ingredients of each dish was not allowed. The idea was to develop a five-course tasting menu for approximately 30 people.
A photo and a short personal summary was requested in advance in order for them to be printed on the menus,” Depypere explained. The chefs Mandrea, Couratier, Manzur, Mascarucci, Spilsbury, Macsherry and Barrantes participated in the six dates of the contest.
“We presented a project of great cultural value but, at the same time, was useful to demonstrate the great quality of human resources that exist in the cooking departments in Tamarindo’s tourism companies. These people meet the highest international quality standards for the benefit of national and international visitors,” said Hernán Imhoff, President of the CCTT.
To rate the participants, customers at each dinner had to answer a questionnaire, with a rating of 1 to 5 in different aspects of the menu.
The public assessment represented 30% of the final score. In the same way, the TAF members rated the dishes, which represented 70% of the final account.
The president of the TAF explained that preparations outside the Cala Luna kitchen were forbidden. Besides, orders had to be made by the purchasing department of the hotel.
The chefs were allowed to carry some specific product of their own if interested, but it was mandatory to report this fact in advance.
Winner: “I owe my experience to my mother” Chef Barrantes is currently the chef for the Beach Club kitchen at the Westin hotel at Reserva Conchal. With 12 years of experience in the art of the gastronomy, Daysi confessed that her cooking studies began in a training course imparted by the National Institute of Learning (INA).
“This award is a recognition that makes me feel very happy for several reasons. First, because I had never participated in something like this before, and secondly, because I had to compete with great connoisseurs of other countries’ gastronomies,” said Barrantes, who lives in Cartagena de Santa Cruz.
“I have to emphasize the great influence of my paternal grandmother. I also owe my experience to my mother who taught me how to cook, perhaps nothing out of the ordinary, but I clearly remember her lasagna recipe, which I still practice, and dry cake and pudding for coffee in the afternoons. My maternal grandmother taught me some tricks. When I was very young I saw her cooking white rice with its unique flavor, beans well cooked, chicken in Chinese sauce with honey and ginger in her great firewood kitchen. This is the essence: I learned cooking from the simplest to the more sophisticated. These are three legacies that I thank from the bottom of my heart,” Barrantes said. In Tamarindo, the winner cooked, among other courses, a corvina with yucca biscuit and ayote (Corvina in infusion of ginger and garlic, yucca biscuit, ayote sauce and orange with seeds and ayote flower), pork with banana ragu and sweet potato (Pork tenderloin with lemon zacate foam and oregano from the yard, banana ragu and sweet potato) and trio of glazed tomatoes, with camembert cheese biscuit (mini glazed tomatoes with passion fruit, camembert cheese breaded with almonds, pecans, cinnamon and orange zest).