Panamá Gastronómica

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A seat at the table for local celeb chefs

Panamá Gastronómica draws thousands.

Panamá Gastronómica draws thousands.

Panamá Gastronómica, the Super Bowl for foodies, returns to the Atlapa Convention Center Friday, August 29 – Sunday, August 31. The event will feature a smorgasbord of activities, including a special conference series called “Chefs Unplugged.” The speakers include local and international chefs who will give hour-long presentations about a variety of subjects related to food.

Here are a couple of the Panamanian celebrity chefs and restaurant owners who will be taking part.

Chef Alfonso José de la Espriella Durling

Restaurant: La Trona

Chef Espriella with students.

Chef Espriella with students.

Born in 1982, Chef Espriella is one of the talented, new breed of restaurateurs shaping Panama’s fast-evolving gastronomic scene. Cooking played a big role for him growing up. It was a passion he discovered early on that his family encouraged him to pursue. After completing his studies in Chile in 2008, he went on to work in the United States and Spain. It was on the Iberian Peninsula where he met Martin Berasategui, the Michelin Three-Star chef who became a great mentor. In the U.S. he worked at the famous BLT restaurant in Miami. Alfonso describes the food he serves in La Trona as “simple and tasty.” While his dishes run the gamut from crab cakes to smoked duck risotto, his most popular recipes are anything with lobster.

You can catch chef Espriella’s presentation during “Chefs Unplugged” on Friday, August 29 at 10 a.m.

Chef Mario Castrellón

Restaurants: Maito y Humo

Chef Castrellón in his garden.

Chef Castrellón in his garden.

Mario began his culinary studies in Barcelona in the famed Sant Pol de Mar Hotel School before returning to Panama to set up shop. He worked in several well-known restaurants before founding Maito, the restaurant that bears his grandfather’s name. His unique style, which he describes as “Criollo Slow Food,” features local flavors and produce from his garden. Recently named as one of the best restaurants in Latin America, Maito is a point of reference for stylized Panamanian cuisine. Mario’s second project, Humo, is dedicated to serving BBQ and has become an instant hit.

You can catch Mario’s presentation at “Chefs Unplugged” on Friday, August 29 at 11 a.m.

Tickets to the fair are available through Ticketplus. The entry costs $7. Tickets to “Chefs Unplugged” cost $100 for students and $150 for everyone else. For more information, visit


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