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12 – Meet Chef Phony Gustavo

14 November, 2011

Chef Phony Gustavo c'èst moi

Please, let me introduce you to Chef Phony Gustavo. Chef Phony Gustavo is the kitchen artist who went beyond the molecular gastronomy of Ferran Adria, the fusion recipes of Donna Hay, the croquettes of Lulù Cucù. Chef Phony Gustavo is many years that taste for you and spread good things from a mean world. Chef Phony Gustavo, c’est moi.

Even if I can tell proudly I come from the country with the best cuisine in the world (my opinion for once is shared with the majority), it is only a couple of years I cook my meals regularly. Paradoxically, that in Italy food is so good and there are so many people passionate of cooking, if it surely helped me to develop a refined taste, on the other side didn’t stimulate me in learning how to cook. My mom, friends, then my travels where the first imperative was to try local specialities, there were always someone who was preparing food for me, and I was more than happy with just enjoy it.

But in the last years food has become one of my biggest passion, so far that the book I wrote in 2008, whose subject were my travels, it is conceived like a big meal. Cooking, experimenting with new flavours, the science of nutritionist: the topic is so vast I really don’t know what to focus on this article.

Luckily I never had problems with weight, nor of appetite, or alimentary intolerance or addiction to junk food, even if I have always had a sweet tooth, probably because I am such a sweetheart. But only when I start traveling I realized how many bad habits I used to have. I was eating too little fruit and vegetables, which are the staples of any food pyramid. I was also too picky, refusing any spicy dish, while now I add garlic or chili when I can, because they are not only extremely healthy, but they also open your taste bud. Unfortunately I haven’t changed yet the really bad vice of eating too quickly, without chewing properly.

The aspect I love more in cooking is alchemy: observe aliments that change shape, flavours and smell that fuse together. I have learned some recipes, but few times I follow them. My mantra is experimenting. Nine times out of ten, I just improvising. Obviously I am still an amateur, and often my results are disappointing, if not disgusting, at least for my italian refined taste.

I try to keep in my kitchen a good selection of vegetables and spices, that every time I put together in a different way, to make a salad or a sauce to mix with the inevitable pasta or rice. Or with eggs to prepare a frittata, a tortilla or an omelette. Since I am in Colombia I discovered the pleasure of prepare soups too. Like the chick-peas I made after publish this articles, which was not bad at all.

I rarely cook meat or fish, but not because I became vegetarian. On contrary, while I understand where they come from, since I experimented not only with stoves but also with alternatives foodstyles, I believe their choice is childish.

And people who adopt more extreme options like veganism or crudism, like diets based on opposite assumptions like Paleolithic or no carbs, to me are a spy of unresolved personal problems. I can see the grumpy reaction of some pacific vegan, so compassionate with all animals, but much less with the animal “man” who doesn’t support their choice. But the researches that show the significant percentage of vegans that turn into anorexic, or the high chance of spontaneous miscarriage of vegan women are equally, if no more trustworthy, than their sources that paint the imminent destruction of Mother Earth, if we everybody doesn’t stop immediately to assume animal proteins.

I rarely cook meat and fish simply because they require more time, abilities, money and they last less when fresh, since I don’t like frozen, even if the assumption frozen food is not healthy is just one of the common misconception that’s has already proven wrong. Moreover I prefer to reserve fish and meat for special events, like a dinner on the beach or a barbecue with friends.

Instead I use a lot the blender, mainly for natural fresh fruit juices, one of the best example of food at the same time tasty and healthy. At the tropics I discovered an amazing variety of fruits, completely unknown to me before I began traveling. I eat a lot of dry fruit too, being almonds my favourite snacks.

Obviously what I eat depend a lot of the country where I am, the climate, the season, my temporary lifestyle. That’s all for introducing Chef Phony Gustavo, who has many more thing to tell you, but for now he leaves you because he feel some appetite now, with the list of his top five food:

-Pizza. Good for any occasion, perfect to share
-Argentinian cow. Just compare a living Argentinian vaca with an indian one and please tell me how can you justify vegetarianism
– French fries (that actually were invented in Belgium). Cooked in olive oil with rosemary.
– Sashimi. Eventually peruvian ceviche
– Tiramisù. No need of further explanations.

How come, I didn’t include pasta? Let’s just say pasta is out of category, because there are too many types and too many seasonings to elect one. Anything I eat, possibly come with a good wine. Because wine is divine.

even prepare a simple salad can be very rewarding

Tools & Tricks

Cose buone da un mondo cattivo Chef Phony Gustavo is born with the desire to share all the ethnic food I discovered in my traveling

Food and healing Best book about nutritionist, more than cuisine, I have read so far.

Food myths and misconceptions You can find a good list here, here and here.

Public places where I wrote
Biblioteca departamental en La Manzana del Saber (Cali)


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