The 5th version of the “Siembra Negro” Festival launches today and runs through September 14th, in Coquí, a village outside of the coastal town of Nuquí on Colombia’s Pacific coast best known as a launching point for whale watching and ecotourism.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MINCIT) with Tourism promotion agency FONTUR, the Chocó Emprende Foundation, and FUNLEO, the Leo Espinosa Foundation are co-organizer of the event, which is part of Colombia’s annual late summer gastronomy festival session. The Leo Espinosa foundation is the charity initiative established by world renowned haute cuisine chef Leonor Espinosa, proprietor of Bogotá’s famous Leo Cocina & Cava, voted one of the 50 best restaurants on the planet.
Traditional cooks from the area will gather and collaborate with national chefs to exchange knowledge, techniques and experience. Traditional foods from the region will be showcased, and local products available for commerce will be highlighted. Chocó is an underdeveloped, low-income department of Colombia that has too often been neglected when it comes to distribution of national resources and development.
Local restaurant and culinary center Zotea will be the center of activities, and visiting chefs include Julián Hoyos, from El Silo restaurant in Montenegro, Quindio, Colombian gastronomical researcher Charlie Otero, chef Alejandro Cuellar from 5 Sentidos Catering and Canasto Bistro, Eduardo Martinez from Mini-mal, Alvaro Clavijo from El Chato, and Yulián Téllez. In addition to dining, and its mission to support the local fishermen, agriculture and human culture, Zotea offers tourists cooking workshops, natural products such as cold pressed coconut oil, tours, and lessons in local knowledge.
With Chocó being one of the rainiest places on earth, Nuquí’s “hierbas de azotea” or raised gardens are an agricultural technique that the region can teach to the rest of Colombia, and may be a sustainable form of agriculture even for urban environments. Nuquí’s wet terrain makes it necessity to grow some vegetable and herb crops above ground for proper drainage, since lack of road access means the Pacific coast of Chocó lacks road access for affordable produce to arrive by ground. Colombia has built no roads to connect Nuquí and many other Pacific coastal towns to the rest of the country, so they must be supplied by boat or by air.
These chefs and restaurateurs will engage with local counterparts to discuss ways to advance gastronomy with tourism, and themes of entrepreneurship in the sectors.
Nuquí has been growing as a tourism destination due to the natural resources, nearby beaches, mangroves, Utria National Park, and relaxed atmosphere. The area is also growing as a source for vanilla,
Above Photo: Sunset over Guachalito Beach, just outside of Coquí (© Loren Moss)