Chilean Chef Rodolfo Guzman: Cooking on the Edge of the World, Part 1

By
The Daily Meal sits down with the young and dynamic chef

Chef Rodolfo Guzman.

How did you begin your work on your menu in the Septime kitchen?
I tried to understand how Bertrand runs his operation and why and how he cooks that way. He and his team choose beautiful products to work with and I tried to put aside my own way of cooking and really wanted to cook just like him. I did different dishes of course while using some Chilean preparations and techniques.

What was the “Bad Bertrand” about?
I asked Bertrand for some things he would never ever do as a French cook or at Septime. Unfortunately for him he told me and so of course I had to do those. There was no question about it!
Bad Bertrand is a mix of butter, olive oil, citrus fruits, and vinegar.

Didn’t you have a similar situation in your kitchen during the shuffle with Ana Ros from Hisa Franko in Slovenia making pasta, which you would never do in your kitchen?
Exactly, that made it fun. I wasn't here myself but from what I heard from my sous chefs and team about it I felt that they all shared a lot and learned a lot.

Ana Ros is a self-taught chef while you have trained formally. Do you think such training is necessary for a cook or can they just cook from their heart?
I feel that cooking is more about emotions, feelings, thoughts and memories, and some part of it is related to the arts. Cooking is not officially an art but I feel all cooks are artisans and at some levels it is an intellectual process. It has to come from deep within you and representative of humanity and something we all experience in our lives. We pass it on through generations like a story. My grandfather taught me something about cooking which I must pass forward to my children.

Experience makes you better just like a Japanese master who perfects his craft for years but the learning process in this field is very deep, ambiguous and wide and that makes it difficult to say whether you should or should not train. Knowledge gained makes you better because you can help transform traditions which tend to become stagnant otherwise. Whether with training or not it is still possible to cook well and I don't think of myself as a super trained cook anyway.

Lately young cooks are flitting from one stage to another to create a resume that might list 10 restaurants in a year what is your take on this phenomenon?
I don't give a damn for resumes like that. People come to me with such resumes which mean nothing to me since we are cooks and artisans and in such a brief time you cannot really get a notion of what a restaurant is about. I think a year is a good length of time. Our interns here are very important to us and we have a vested interest in training them well.

Related

This is the first installment in a three-part interview with chef Rodolfo Guzman. You can find the second installment here and the third installment here.