Speaking to a crowd of more than 600 students and instructors from two Salvadoran culinary schools, American chef Hoss Fuentes encouraged them to “cook with passion and express yourselves through your food.”
“A career in cooking has its difficulties but also its rewards and joys,” Fuentes said, urging them to take full advantage of their education and training.
Fuentes is the executive chef of the Palm Restaurant in Nashville, Tenn., and made a visit to El Salvador March 7-13 as part of the Department’s Culinary Diplomacy exchange program. In addition to lectures and workshops, Fuentes, who was born in Honduras, visited a local food market as well as several Salvadoran restaurants.
In his lecture, on March 10, Fuentes was joined by Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte, and the Salvadoran Minister of Tourism, José Napoleón Duarte. Also present were the directors from the two schools, the Engineering Specialized School (ITCA) and the Pan American Academy of Culinary Arts (APAC), and the Salvadoran Restaurant Association (ARES) – all partners with the Embassy in organizing the chef’s visit to El Salvador.
Ambassador Aponte emphasized the importance of the culinary industry in society, noting that a strong culinary and hospitality industry is key to a country’s economic growth and sustainability. “This makes you, the next generation of culinary professionals, a major part of the economic future of El Salvador,” she said.
On the second day of his visit, Chef Fuentes visited a local food market, learning more about Salvadoran cuisine, commonly-used ingredients, and Salvadoran culture. He was accompanied by representatives of APAC and ITCA, and the Mercado Saludable de Antiguo Cuscatlán’s administration assistant. This market is also known as Mercado de Merliot. Later that day, Fuentes led APAC and ITCA chefs in preparing a representational dinner at the Ambassador’s residence.
On his final day in El Salvador, Chef Fuentes toured five Salvadoran restaurants with ARES’ executive director to get to know better the food, the restaurant industry and how it contributes to local tourism.