History was on the table this November in the southeast of Mexico, the land of the pib, habanero chile, cochinita, papadzules, achiote, chaya and much more: Merida was the gastronomic epicenter of a fiesta in which the ingredients and traditions of the region were celebrated in the first edition of Sabores Festival Gastronomico de Yucatan.
On top of everything else, 2022 was named the Year of Yucatecan Gastronomy, as the most influential personalities in the industry were there, from cooks, cooks, chefs, critics, journalists; producers of honey, salt, craft beer, distillates and much more.
Sabores de Yucatan took place from November 11 to 13 and was a meeting where you can find tastings, samplings, conferences, and master classes with renowned Mexican chefs.
The objective was to highlight the millenary traditions in the kitchens and contemporary trends in Yucatan, a place formerly known as “the land of the pheasant and the deer”.
Yucatan, a First-class Destination
As a vehicle of tourism development, more than 12,000 people enjoyed the first edition of Sabores de Yucatan, a gastronomic epicenter of Latin America, which confirms that it is a first-class destination for hosting major events.
The state of Yucatan has cenotes, archeology, farms, colonial cities, beaches, jungle, a living ancestral culture, infrastructure, and security. However, it is its gastronomy that offers the incredible opportunity to its promote tourism, narrating its diversity, its past, and its present.
This week, the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Yucatan (Sefotur), headed by Michelle Fridman Hirsch, Minister of Tourism of the State of Yucatan, bet directly on this idea as it hosted this year’s Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and the first edition of the Sabores de Yucatan Festival. The festival exposed Yucatecan gastronomy to more than 12,000 people, making it clear that gastronomy, in general, is an engine for tourism recovery and, specifically, that the Yucatecan culinary offer can compete with top-level culinary events.
With a diverse and authentic offer, Yucatan demonstrated that it had become a gastronomic destination par excellence, accompanied by an extensive program of activities. Some of these activities include a wide variety of options. Attendees enjoyed the Mercadito Sabores in Paseo de Montejo, bringing together 58 Yucatecan producers who were able to show their products made from ingredients endemic to the region. Some of the products exposed are honey, habanero, sour orange, and henequen, among others, to more than 4,300 people who visited this space; 3 Gastronomic Circuits attended by more than 600 people with their “gastronomic passport” and with the participation of 21 restaurants from the Center of Mérida.
Also, the Tours through Cantinas and Tap Rooms were carried out by 164 people; the Garden Sabores in Mercado 60 brought together around 2,000 people throughout the weekend who enjoyed the incredible variety of food and live music. Dinners were resolved by 6-handed chefs, where the talent of local, national, and international cookers came together, for which 15 restaurants participated and served more than 827 diners. In addition, 160 people walked through the traditional markets, and other points in the Market Tours offered free of charge to Festival attendees.
Also, within the facilities of Casona Minaret, 19 workshops and tastings were held for 760 people, and an Academic Program with ten presentations and conferences. Some of the most renowned culinary talents in the world participated, including local and national chefs, who gathered at the festival to share knowledge and reflections on gastronomy in front of more than 2,000 people.
Those attending the festival could visit the Gastronomic Circuits on streets 47, 55, and 60 using the Electric Buggy, which reported that approximately 800 people enjoyed the journey through the city streets to reach their preferred circuit.
Internationally Recognized Chefs
All of this was possible thanks to the participation of local producers, chefs, and traditional cooks, who shared their knowledge and flavors with more than 12,000 people included in all the activities. Sabores de Yucatan Festival and the celebration of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants were held for the first time in Yucatan, bringing together more than 180 local, national and international chefs between both events.
In this regard, Minister Fridman Hirsch commented that this event has allowed Yucatan to capture a significant economic benefit through tourism, promote the entity worldwide, and exchange experiences and knowledge of great value.
She stressed that tourism and the restaurant industry should be tools that shorten social gaps, mitigate food waste in a hungry world, promote local and responsible consumption, and preserve and regenerate the environment.
“In the hands of each one of us is building a future attached to sustainability and inclusion,” concluded the official.
The presence of internationally recognized chefs for these meetings drew the attention of locals, visitors, and gourmet experts who gathered to enjoy the different events and meet their idols.
The festival received visitors from all over the world, although it was always local. Traditional cook Rosalia Chay Chuc gave a lecture on recados and cochinita pibil, because the best in the state is made by her in her community, in Yaxunah.
Chef Dabiz Muñoz, from Diverxo restaurant in Madrid, Spain, spoke not only of the great moment Latin America is experiencing but also of the potential it is increasingly exploiting: “Coming to Merida in August was the trip of a lifetime. Its gastronomic richness is a reflection of the people, of their affection. When we arrived in Yucatan I was surprised to see how generous they were because, although they had little, they gave us everything. I believe that gastronomic luxury today is to make someone feel special, and that happens in Mexico,” concluded the best chef in the world in The Best Chef Awards.
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