At El Campanario, a quaint organic farm tucked away in the Yucatan’s least-visited state, a rare dining experience has begun to amaze locals, while also meeting the increasing demand for more genuinely authentic, healthy food.
On the outskirts of Campeche City, an exploration of culinary flavors and designs, known as Farm to Table, is taking place. Additionally, the monthly event has happily invoked an appetite for organic ingredients and eco-responsibility.
Guests of Farm to Table enjoy close proximity to the fresh produce soon to be cooked by one of Campeche’s finest chefs, Enrique Ortiz, of restaurant La Maria Cocina Peninsular. Diners may watch as he and his team construct a three-course meal over an open fire. Pleasantries between the staff keep the atmosphere at ease, while at any moment farm animals may roam by, curious about the new visitors.
Chef Enrique runs this deservingly popularized restaurant in Campeche’s historic center, which has become known for its authentic southern Mexico dishes and alluring presentations, earning a Tripadvisor 2021 Travelers’ Choice Award. Enrique aspired to extend his regional culinary creations- and hopefully some eco-values- into the community beyond his restaurant, and with the help of the team at El Campanario, did so at the start of 2021.
Partnering up with this zero waste farm, Ortiz set out to cultivate sustainable and gratifying dishes by putting an emphasis on local produce and the economy.
“The idea of Farm to Table first began after a walk around El Campanario,” says Ortiz. “I saw the use of the compost system to reduce waste. I saw how endemic plants were allowed to flourish. I saw the amazing abundance of pumpkins! There and then I had this desire to experiment with the seasonal produce, to take on the challenge and see if I could make something new.”
“In the same way that I purchase seasonal produce from markets in Campeche to build the menu for La Maria, my team and I also harvest the produce in El Campanario the day before a Farm to Table event. This is how we maximize food usage and ensure good quality.”
The recipes for the multi-course meal are decided after harvesting, often even the day of the event. Enrique is passionate about the challenge of thinking on his feet when creating dishes. “I enjoy seeing what there is to work with, and I am always thinking about what’s next,” he adds wholeheartedly, “It is very rewarding.”
Entirely vegan dishes, what is served at Farm to Table will take guests back in time to the sought-after flavors of more rural parts of Mexico. Mixing in Enrique’s experimental methods and traditional southern cooking techniques, with the atmosphere of a literal farm, diners will experience a rare culinary artistic experience in a spirited outdoor setting.
Both teams, the team at El Campanario and staff of La Maria, come braced to host and serve in any kind of climate. If re-arrangements are needed mid-course, the teams are quick to revive the atmosphere with cheerful banter and harmonious transitions. Just the same, the chef is prepared to create under any condition, and thrives off of the chaotic circumstances presented when cooking on an open fire.
Sitting across a vibrant landscape of characterful animals and unpredictable occurrences, attendees of Farm to Table always leave with a positive reaction to the dining experience. “Our guests are usually people who are interested in our project, and of course share our same values,” Enrique explains.
The overarching goal is to enhance food autonomy in the local community by empowering farms, such as El Campanario, to provide a variety of tasteful foods, as well as involving progressive ideas of coexistence within the dining experience.
Enrique points out that “the demand for more Farm to Table experiences is increasing.” This is wonderful news for eco-activists and those concerned about the lasting effects of animal consumption. The teams also feel that this experience helps create a bridge between locals and those who look out for the environment.
Customers will be pleased by the delivery and design of high quality dishes served, alongside the shared knowledge that they are making eco-responsible choices.
In addition to spreading their values, Farm to Table satisfies another key component for both La Maria and El Campanario teams: sustainable living. The FtT experiment has little to no impact on the environment throughout its cultivation, all the way to its cleanup. With a priority on zero food miles traveled, and the elimination of plastic use when stocking or storing, this team has established an extension of eco-friendly values within Campeche, and optimistically, beyond.
The next Farm to Table event takes place on Tuesday 21st September, in Campeche, with a Mexican Independence Day theme. For more information visit https://www.instagram.com/lamaria.cp/
For Times Media Mexico, Kalee Lamp Sparr in Campeche
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