Among the leading figures in Latin American gastronomy is Rodolfo Guzmán, the man who put Chile on the gourmet map. From humble beginnings as a dishwasher in the United States, he went on to open "Boragò" with its extraordinary endemic cuisine. The chef's revolution, inspired by indigenous heritage and native products, earned him several awards, including the Sustainable Restaurant Award among the 50 best restaurants in Latin America in 2018 and 2021.
Rodolfo Guzmán was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1978. Initially, he considered other careers and enrolled in Management Engineering, but after just a year, he dropped out. Meanwhile, he practiced water skiing, a great hobby for him, only occasionally dabbling in cooking. An accident on the waves convinced him to change his life: he decided to study culinary arts at a professional institute in Santiago.
After graduating, his beginnings were modest: Guzmán headed to the United States, where he worked as a dishwasher and waiter in small restaurants. Later, he felt the need to challenge himself further and landed in Spain, not just anywhere, but at “Mugaritz” under Andoni Luis Aduriz, which would change his life. Here, he received his proper culinary training, both technically and creatively. He was an apprentice who kept learning, absorbing, imagining, and creating, developing ideas that would guide his growth as a professional.
By 2006 he felt ready to return to his homeland, where he began cataloging and classifying the ingredients of the so-called "Chilean endemic pantry," documenting their uses and properties. That same year, he opened "Boragò". The potential in front of him was vast: he could explore new processing and cooking methods for ingredients no one had ever considered, due to Chilean cuisine's lack of historical background. A new tradition was born, intertwined with the remarkable natural and human heritage of a vast and diverse country, rebuilding after turbulent decades. The cuisine is 100% native in ingredients and concepts. Hence, the initial response from customers, accustomed to foie gras and imported delights, was skeptical. In fact, "Boragò" remained empty for years, too ahead of a revolution that was yet to begin.
Things began to change in 2013 when the restaurant was listed among the Best Restaurants in Chile: the long-awaited turning point, a reward for perseverance. That unconventional and revolutionary cuisine finally attracted attention, drawing critics and gourmet enthusiasts from around the world, eager to experience its unique cultural and culinary offerings. Two years later, in 2015, "Boragò" ranked second among the Best Restaurants in Latin America and clinched the 42nd spot in the 50 Best Restaurants worldwide, but it kept climbing, reaching the 30th spot in 2023.
Guzmán speaks of "endemic cuisine," a holistic approach emphasizing the natural resources present in the country, even the rainwater from Patagonia. The chef's efforts led to the Sustainable Restaurant Award among the 50 best restaurants in Latin America in 2018, the inaugural year, and again in 2021.
In 2019, "Boragò" moved to the foothills of Manquehue hill, overlooking Santiago's valley. Guzmán took with him the network he built over the years, comprising 200 people, including chefs, waitstaff, small producers, and foragers, to sustainably support local communities. Alongside the new venue, the Chilean Gastronomic Research Center was also established, where the chef experiments for the restaurant.
Today, "Boragò" is undeniably the most important restaurant in Chile and paves the way for a new approach to gastronomy for Latin Americans, as captured in the book "Coming from the South". Guzmán stays the course; he even got invited to Italy for a masterclass at Alma. He's humbled yet confident, allowing his cuisine to speak for itself, the rest is pride for the work done and for restoring proper recognition to his country.