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Have you ever thought of mixing French and Colombian gastronomy? Well, our Paris based Colombian chef , Daniel Salazar has and it’s absolutely exquisite! Inspired by his Latin American roots and his life in Paris, Daniel has fused both gastronomies into one concept, La Cuadra. La Cuadra is a tour of Paris through the flavors that Daniel considers emblematic of each quartier, all while adding a touch of uniqueness to each of his creations. We meet the man.
How would you describe your business, La Cuadra?
‘La Cuadra‘ (the block) is a Colombian expression that refers to a neighborhood or a street where friends gather to have fun. I’ve been working on this concept ever since I arrived to Paris in order to describe through flavors each of the neighborhoods of this city. The purpose is that each dish gathers the main elements and flavors of a specific quartier (ex: Saint- Germain-Des-Près, Champs Elysées, Montmarte etc.)
What is the most unusual request you’ve had?
A couple of years ago, I was working for Fox TeleColombia in a reality show called Cocineros al Límite (Cooks to the limit). The quest consisted in creating a dish with alligator and ostrich eggs. Not only was it extremely difficult to find these ingredients but also, to conceive how to express myself through them.
What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the business?
There are two main things I’d suggest. First of all, not to be afraid to fail. There’s going to be a lot of pressure and you’re going to be confronted to a lot of unexpected circumstances. For me, the kitchen is like a jungle, only the fittest can survive. You have to be ready to handle anything, and anything is anything. Finally, you have to believe in what you’re doing. Don’t lose hope, don’t ever forget that what you cook is an extension of yourself. It’s a direct expression of what you are. You have to be loyal to yourself.
La Cuadra is now expanding to ‘La Cuadra Pâtisserie’. I had the chance to represent Colombia in the Salon du Chocolat in Paris last October. La Cuadra is now working in new pastry flavors to blend exotic fruits with the French pâtisserie techniques.
What is your favorite restaurant?
This is a very tricky question. But in Buenos Aires there is a place called Maria Magdalena (by Chef Roberto Richa). He is just very creative and always has surprises for his clients.
What would your last meal on earth be?
My grandmother’s special Beef’s tongue in its own sauce!
Hummus or Tehina? Hummus
Apple or android’?Apple
Picasso or Matisse? Picasso
Coffee or tea? Tea
Love or friendship? Friendship
Gabriel García Márquez or Ernest Hemingway? García Márquez