Creative Local Fare at a New Private Island Resort: Meet Isla Palenque's Chef Oliver Blond
CHICAGO, March 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At a restaurant called Eden on a wild private island in Panama, Chef Oliver Blond is inventing ways to accommodate the adventurous appetites of guests at the just-opened Resort at Isla Palenque.
Blond, a native Panamanian whose expertise encompasses Latin cuisine as well as experiential and concept dining, was a natural "in" for Eden, which focuses on fine local cuisine with a generous dash of creativity.
Innovation is one of Blond's culinary strengths – one he exercises daily at Eden, while enjoying a degree of intimacy with his ingredients found at few other restaurants. An on-island organic farm supplies much of the produce and herbs used in Eden's cuisine, and sourcing catch-of-the-day seafood frequently means intercepting a cooler from that morning's sportfishing excursion.
With such freshness at his fingertips, Chef Blond has had little difficulty creating distinctive dishes for Isla Palenque's guests to savor. Yuca gnocchi in a rich carbonara made with Chiriqui pork, carpaccio of fresh-caught snook and seasoned with island herbs, and classic Panamanian sancocho served at the table from a silver tureen are just a few of the ways Blond has contrived to close the gap between simple local fare and gourmet gastronomy.
In Panama City, where Blond grew up, cuisine exhibits a decidedly global character: you'll find Chinese and Middle-Eastern restaurants next door to Panamanian dining establishments that incorporate flavors and techniques from around the world, thanks to the influence of commerce and the Canal. This mash-up of the traditional and the eclectic defined Blond's early cooking experiences, initially at home in Panama and continuing through formal studies in Mexico and Chile. After completing his training, Blond served as chef in several of Panama City's top restaurants, notably La Comedia in Casco Viejo. In 2009, he accepted a post as Executive Chef at The Rock in Boquete, Chiriqui – and it was then that he began to discover his signature culinary style.
"Living in Chiriqui changed the way I cook," says Blond. "Here, I found friendship with other chefs; we'd sit talking over meals about the things we wanted to try, exchanging ideas; I got to know the producers and see where the ingredients came from. In the capital, you go to the supermarket or call to have ingredients delivered – you don't have direct contact with the producers like you do here in Chiriqui."
Blond has made Eden his arena for ingredient-focused dishes that make a statement. Presentation is always thoughtful, often structural: crisp plantain chips and microgreens from the island farm lend drama or delicacy as needed, and each dish balances color and texture to appetizing effect. The setting beyond the plate at Eden likewise encourages extraordinary dining experiences through design: a central Great Room invites communal dining in view of the infinity-edge pool where it disappears into the expansive Gulf of Chiriqui, or guests can choose a table for two in the breezy bohio below.
Already, Blond has had the pleasure of delivering on his concept of "the perfect meal" at this new dining venue in secluded paradise:
"La cena ideal, for me, is much like we did at our 7-course tasting event for the first guests. Dinner begins at six-thirty in the evening at sunset, with soft jazz playing. In the middle of the music, a live saxophonist comes out: una sorpresa."
Sax or no sax, meals at Eden assure plenty of pleasant surprises as Chef Blond innovates afresh with different in-season ingredients as they arrive at his island kitchen on Isla Palenque.
About The Resort at Isla Palenque
The Resort at Isla Palenque is a sustainable resort and residence development located on a private island in the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama. The resort's boutique hotel welcomed its first guests February 14, 2013 to experience a luxurious escape amid the wild jungles and pristine beaches of Isla Palenque.
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Media contact: Emily Kinskey, Marketing Manager for The Resort at Isla Palenque, Email, 773-769-1145
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SOURCE The Resort at Isla Palenque