As Santiago’s famed Boragó continues to gain footing in the international culinary scene, thereby giving the Chilean capital a good amount recognition for its ambitious, burgeoning culinary scene, a new, slightly less formal style of cooking is gaining a following amongst Santiaguinos. Pop-ups, Puertas Cerradas, and one-off joint dinners between chefs are trending right now, and there seems to be no limit to the amount of special dinners that diners will sign up for. And while there are one-night-only events that will burn brightly and fade, there are several private dining experiences that seem poised to stick around.
Taller de Raíz
NOMA alum and former chef de cuisine at Boragó, Diego Prado, has combined forces with former co-worker and D.O.M. alum Sayil Guerra and Kurt Schmidt to give Santiaguinos a pop-up experience in the truest sense of the word. De Raíz dinners have happened in parking garages, gardens, and rooftops, with more exotic locations in the works. They focus on seasonal, endemic ingredients, as well as the leftovers that are undervalued at Santiago’s Vega Central, like broccoli stems and leaves, offal, and everything but Chilean sea bass. Their dinners usually happen once a month, and have become the hottest ticket in town. More info at www.deraiz.com
Salvador Cocina y Café
Chef / owner of Salvador Rolando Ortega is a former coffee- shop owner and auto-didact. After selling his stake in two of Santiago’s hottest coffee shops, he opened the restaurant of his dreams which, as he puts it, focuses on Montreal-style, nose to tail dining. He was, until recently, putting on a monthly ‘comedor clandestino’ for 15 lucky diners, but the popularity of the events has forced him to add another date to the calendar. Diners lucky enough to get a ticket to the twice-monthly events (the tickets sell out almost before they’re even published) feast on dishes like re- stuffed potatoes with runny eggs and ash aioli, pork terrine with mashed apples, and fried rabbit raviolis with pungent demi-glace. Not for the faint of heart or those watching their waist lines, Salvador is the definition of big flavors. For up-to-date information, follow their Facebook page.
Santiago’s only real ‘Puertas Cerradas’ (closed-door dining) experience, Dugnad is a melange of cooks from Argentina, Chile, Peru and even the United States. Headed by Nicolas Lopez, the group focuses on using mostly traditional cooking techniques in combination with modern plating, hand-made clay plates, and an apartment whose bare simplicity compliments the minimalist cuisine. Open mostly on weekends, the buzz that this group has created in just three months of existence borders on legendary. More info at firstname.lastname@example.org
The chefs at this small eatery that, during a given week, serves less-than-typical Chilean ‘colaciónes’ for lunch, including modernized takes on traditional soups and other meat-heavy dishes, like to mess around a couple times a month with dinners that look nothing like their typical lunch fare. Dubbed ‘OMNIVOROS,’ chefs Alvaro Vega and Hocsel Prat, along with friends Juan Pablo Fernandez, and Francisco Barros, bring diners their own look at the best Chile has to offer. Dishes like salmon cured two ways served over pine leaves in their own trunk, or a dessert homage to Jordi Roca are made even more incredible given that, for the typical eight courses, the dinners cost a mere $60 US, including wine and infusion pairings. La Republiqueta doesn’t talk much about their dinners. For the best information, follow their Twitter feed.
These, for now, are the four most popular and active groups doing private dinners and pop-ups. Naturally, new ones are, well, popping-up it seems monthly. As with all pop- up style dining, timing is key. Though in Santiago, it seems that even a slip in timing won’t matter much in the near future. The proliferation of restaurant-free dining is showing no signs of slowing down.