The first time celeb chef Andrés Madrigal was approached by the folks from Boquete’s Finca Lérida was in August of last year. The small-scale boutique hotel, known for its lush coffee plantation where signature beans are grown, was in need of a redesign for its restaurant. Madrigal agreed to the project in September, and soon this year, Panama will taste the fruits of their labor.
“My objective is to create Panama’s first ‘kilometer zero restaurant’ supplied by foods grown around the property. I want to demonstrate that, using only flavors found in Panama, we can create a dignified world-renowned cuisine,” said chef Andrés.
Andrés has made quite a name for himself since arriving to Panama from Spain to open his signature restaurant, Madrigal, located in Casco Antiguo. He has since helped open Il Grillo by Madrigal in Costa del Este, where his cooking school, Atelier Madrigal, is also located. In addition, he has restaurant locations in Colombia and Mexico.
Finca Lérida’s restaurant redesign covers more than just the menu. “I was asked to create a concept,” said Andrés about his new project in Boquete. He worked closely with renowned Panamanian architect, Alegre Saporta.
“As the consultant for the project, I hope to present something that will be considered a part of the country’s patrimony,” he said. To accomplish this, he will bring to bear his unique cooking style, “cocina viajera,” a term he coined that refers to the influence traveling the globe has had on the dishes he offers.
His goal is to turn Boquete into a “gastronomic destination” that complements the area’s natural beauty. Andrés cites one of the country’s great kitchens, located there, Charlie Collins’ Hotel Panamonte.
Boquete’s culinary offer will stand to benefit from added exposure. Soon, Finca Lérida’s signature coffee will be made available in Panama City through the Madrigal family of restaurants.
It looks like 2015 will be a busy year for Chef Andrés. On the heels of the publication of his latest book in Spain (“Muerte a la carta” written with Eric Frattini), he plans on a “behind the scenes” role for the opening of his wife’s new eatery. “We also have something planned for the area of Lake Gatún.
“I don’t want to be the star of Panama’s cooking scene; I want the country’s gastronomy to be the protagonist,” he said.
Chef Madrigal can be followed on Twitter by his handle, “@andresmadrigalg” where he tweets using the hashtag, “#sedcuriosos”.