For the first time, Relais & Chateaux has collaborated with Slow Food’s Ark of Taste to add local, endangered products highlighted by member properties to their catalogue of 5,500 ingredients from around the world that potentially risk extinction.
Relais & Chateaux chefs around the globe are saving near-extinct foods to ensure the preservation of culinary heritage.
At Awasi Atacama, Chef Juan Pablo chose algarroba as his star ingredient. Algarroba is a medium-sized tree, measuring between 5 and 15m (16 and 49ft) that grows in the region and even inside the grounds at Awasi Atacama. The fruits are modified seed pods, 20 cm (7.9 in) long, with brown seeds about 7 mm (0.28 in). They contain a sweet, floury paste which is very high in energy and can be turned into flour and added to recipes. The flour is brown and sweet – a little like cacao – and it can be used to bake healthy snacks. Its natural sweetness allow it to avoid the use of refined sugar.
At Awasi Iguazu, Chef Manu Agrelo selected cassava as it is one of the most versatile and typical ingredients in the Atlantic Rainforest. Also called manioc or yuca, the tuber of this plant is a type of starch that can be consumed boiled, grilled, fried, pureed or as a flour. It is very mild in taste and goes very well with both savory and sweet preparations. This shrub grows wild in the rainforest and is enjoyed by the local population in many typical preparations: as flour in chipa, as grains in tapioca or alongside an asado or grilled freshwater fish.
The power of pitanga
This is the fourth year that Relais & Chateaux has celebrated Food for Change, using the opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of protecting lesser-known food around the world. Last year, Chef Manu presented the pitanga berry which has now been selected as one of the recognised ingredients in Ark Of Taste.
Launched in 1996, the Ark of Taste has brought aboard 5,555 products from 150 different countries. They include breeds of animals, varieties of heirloom vegetables or plants, and transformed products of small-scale expertise. At Awasi our chefs love forming part of Relais & Chateaux for many reasons, not least because it encourages sustainable practices and unites them with chefs across the world.