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June 16, 2014

Mesamérica: full speed ahead 

Bowien & Batali

Mexico City is one of the richest and most interesting street food capitals of the world. Based on that premise, Mesamérica dedicated its third edition, which took place May 20-22, 2014, to Urban Expressions. Taking place at Auditorio Blackberry in Mexico City, experts from all over the globe got together to share their thoughts on what we're eating in big cities, how we're eating, and why.

More than 2,000 guests experienced big names like David Thompson (Bangkok), Alice Waters, Mario Batali, Danny Bowien, Jon Shook, Vinny Dotolo, David Gelb (USA), Mario Sandoval, Ricard Camarena and Joxe Maria Aizega (Spain), Rodrigo Oliveira (Brazil), Renato Giovannoni (Argentina), and Renzo Garibaldi (Peru). Day 1 of the conference even closed with a surprise appearance by Rene Redzepi, who was just off of regaining his restaurant's (Noma) title as Number 1 restaurant in the world on the World's 50 Best List.

Mexico was represented by some of its brightest talents, highlighting the depth and richness of its cuisine and its relationship with the city, as seen from different perspectives. Chefs Edgar Núñez, Josefina Santacruz, José Miguel García, Jorge Vallejo, Mikel Alonso, Daniel Ovadía and Dante Ferrero lead a program that also included authorities from other fields, like Juan Villoro, Ariel Rojo, David Lida, Gabriela Vargas, Ana Elena Guerra, Alejandro Escalante and Mara Robles, among others.

Grand opening
Food trucks are one of the most dominating forms of urban expressions, and so for the grand opening of the third edition of Mesamérica, the Mexican Association of Food Trucks welcomed more than 3,500 guests at Lienzo Charro in Costituyentes. Ten trucks were in charge of feeding the hungry guests amid activities like "face-offs" between chefs from the trucks and Colectivo Mexicano de Cocina. Participating trucks included Barra Vieja, Primario, Ñham Ñham, Bueno Bonito Bistrot, Meatless, Burguer Lab, Balak, Órale Arepa, and Nómada, and welcomed chefs Pablo Salas, Daniel Ovadía, Edgar Cano, Jorge Vallejo, Mario Espinoza, Ana Mari Fernández and Luis Robledo, among others.

Rene Redzepi

As a variant, Mesamérica also launched Sobre Mesa, a special section dedicated to pastry and organized in partnership with EspaiSucre. Presented by Nespresso, it featured virtuosos like Pierre Hermé (France), Oriol Balaguer, Ramón Morató, Jordi Butrón and Xano Saguer (Spain), as well as Alejandra Hurtado (Chile) and Sonia Arias (Mexico). Closing the event, Arca Lab showcased a mash-up dedicated to demonstrating the value of Mexican chocolate under an original dynamic.

Mesamérica is organized by Colectivo Mexicano de Cocina, led by chef Enrique Olvera and operated by three culinary schools–Ambrosía, Coronado, Itab–and it has positioned itself as the main culinary summit in Mexico as well as one of the most important ones in the world. The support of institutions like Secretaría de Turismo de Gobierno Federal (Sectur) is, now more than ever, key for the event's success, which has become an extraordinary display of Mexico's greatest assets both in and outside the country. "The key has been to propose an interdisciplinary program that makes gastronomy the starting point for a larger exchange, allowing different fields like architecture, nutrition, education, film and anthropology, to converge," says Olvera. "All of this is created with the sole intention of contributing to the development of our field, and to underline the great value that Mexico has as a culinary destination,"

Mesamérica motivated and inspired its audience with shared experiences by authorities who are trailblazers and rule-breakers. "We want Mesamérica to be an opportunity to share and enjoy the most distinctive part of Mexico, not just in terms of food but also in creativity," adds Sasha Correa, event director.

Other activities

It was important for Mesamérica to promote and recognize the role of culinary journalism. It is clear that it's an area of specialty, a challenge that requires sensibility and technical tools, and related not only to the rituals of the table, but also research and narrative. With that in mind, Mesamérica teamed up with the Department of Education of Mexico City to create a workshop titled "What we talk about when we talk about gastronomy," featuring Julio Villanueva Chang (founder and editor of Peru's Etiqueta Negra magazine) and Martín Caparrós (author of novel Comí, and winner of the Rey de España journalism award). Running from May 12-16, this was a unique opportunity to explore topics such as culinary chronicle and critique.

Closing party
Comensales hosted an amazing closing party to celebrate the opening of the highly-anticipated Mercado Roma. To showcase the best of the Mexican cocktail scene, mixologists from 10 of the most representative spots in town were in attendance, including Bar Lilit, Artemisia, Puebla 109 and Sesame. Guests also sampled the market's culinary offerings, which included El Zargazo, Ingredienta, La Barraca Valenciana de José Miguel García, QuéBo, Lactography, Aires de Campo, Rancho Tres Luisas, Villa de Patos, Theurel & Thomas, and more.

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