When I first arrived in Santiago, it didn’t really seem to have a big culinary scene. Certainly, after the wide range of “puertas cerradas”, restaurants, parrillas and great bars in Buenos Aires, Santiago’s line up paled by comparison.
But, after much research, more time to get to know the city, and advise from people who had been around a lot longer, more options started to bubble to the surface. And not just the range of restaurants to try out, but in particular, those events that take place outside the standard confines of a restaurant.
The many different iterations of “cena escondida” (hidden dinner) events.
Creative chefs who either don’t have their own permanent space, or want to use it a little differently, and try something new, without a standard menu that only changes once every couple of months.
There are Chilean chefs who want to honour traditional recipes with quality produce, or take quality local and produce something creative, sometimes testing the boundaries, based on what’s fresh and in season. There are chefs that have come from abroad, putting their own creative spin on the wide range of available ingredients. The common underlying factor is that they want the freedom to express themselves through their food, and produce a quality product which, for the consumers, is great news.
Most of the events are based on shared tables, making it suitable for solo diners but, of course, it is always nice to go with someone with shared interests so finding some fellow foodie friends here was a big bonus!
It’s not as easy to keep up with what’s going on in these circles as it is to walk past your local restaurant and see if they’re open. Many a time a local has asked me “but, how do you know about these things?”. It’s really a case of keeping “an ear to the ground”, and social media and word-of-mouth goes a long way.
So, despite my initial reservations upon arriving in Santiago, I now find there is such a wide variety of events that it’s sometimes impossible to keep up and, for the budget and the waistline, I can’t get to all of them. Still, it’s great to seek out something new and interesting, and treat ourselves once in a while, definitely something I love about living in Chile!