WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
I returned to La Cusinga in January, 2009 with a dream in mind. I wanted to create a cuisine that would bridge the gap between what La Cusinga offered their guests physically and spiritually, and what they were putting in their bodies when they ate here. Just as La Cusinga represents a sustainable form of eco-tourism, I wanted to offer a cuisine that reflected that same sustainability. I was on a mission to show not just our guests, but also the people of this community that it was possible to create delicious, serious, mostly organic food using entirely local ingredients.
I had in mind a vision that would support local farmers, fishermen and food artisans and one that would create a new cuisine of coastal Costa Rica. I visit the markets each week to talk with growers and to develop the relationships that will be mutually beneficial as Costa Rica experiences its rapid growth on an international level. Dairy farmers, cheesemakers, rice farmers, ceramic artists, vanilla growers and cacao farmers; all are included in this vision.
I am often asked if I cook entirely locally and my answer, somewhat surprised, is always, “Yes, of course, why wouldn’t I?” This should be every Chef’s dream, to be able to provide the food for his guests with ingredients grown less than an hour away. Between the produce we grow here at the Lodge, the lovely organics I am able to buy from my loyal and local farmers, and the fish that come from the ocean I can see from my kitchen, we have created a cuisine here at La Cusinga that is original and unique to this area.
What we are doing is by no means unique internationally; after all the French have been using this model for years and the United States is home to a huge “farm to table” sensibility. But here in Costa Rica our world class fish and produce have been pushed to the side in an effort to create a more homogenous cuisine for tourists. I don’t believe we have to do that and I believe that the ingredients I get here at tiny La Cusinga rival those of any kitchen in the world.
I am proud of the food we serve at La Cusinga. I am proud that organic growers here have risen to the challenge of producing top flight produce and I am proud to be able to go right to the boats where our fish are caught. But mostly I am proud to be able to put food on our tables here that honors and respects the hard work of John and Bella, of Geinier and Henry and of all the people who make La Cusinga the world class Eco-Lodge that it is.