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Mesamerica 2014 "Cumbre Gastronomica de Mexico"

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One of the most well attended food events around the world gets underway next week in Mexico City from the 20th till the 22nd of May. This is the third year of this conference initiated by Mexico's most celebrated chef Enrique Olvera of Pujol restaurant in Mexico City. The Latin American food scene has been gaining a lot of attention and creating a significant buzz in the food world in the last few years. Last September the first 50 Best Restaurants of Latin America were announced in Lima, Peru and Pujol was ranked at #3 followed by other names such as Biko, Pangea, Quintonil, Sud777, Corazon de Tierra, and Merotoro, an indication of this regions growing influence.

Last years list of speakers included chefs from countries like Venezuela, Peru, Denmark, Spain, France, the US, and Italy, as well as many established and upcoming chefs from Mexico. Women are underrepresented on the roster at such events and last year's Mesamerica was no different. This year however, Alice Waters, probably one of the most well known and celebrated American chefs, headlines the event along with Mario Batali, Danny Bowien, Vinny Dotolo, and Jon Shook, so it seems the focus will be on the US food scene. The theme of this years event at the Blackberry Auditorio is "Comida Callejera, Expresiones Urbanas" or "The Urban Expression of Street Food." Tickets range from MX $1484 to MX $2911.00 and are discounted for culinary students who earnestly line up outside the auditorium to be up close with names that they have heard about and but rarely get to visit in their top tier restaurants.

The other partners in the list of organizers and sponsors are the association of Mexican chefs Colectivo Mexicano De Cocina A.C with the involvement of the Secretaria de Agricultura, Secretaria de Turismo and numerous others. In such an economically challenged region, the future of this event in the same format was uncertain as per a conversation with Enrique Olvera at the end of last years event. This year the event is in a similar format for the first two days followed by one whole day dedicated to the sweet world of pastry, sponsored by Nespresso. Last year Jordi Roca of Celler de Can Roca, Spain demonstrated some spectacular deserts on stage, and this year Pierre Herme, the famous French pastry chef, headlines the sweet section of the program.

This event has contributed to bringing the attention of the culinary world to this region of Latin America. It is an exciting three days of lectures, cooking demonstrations, and an opportunity to see up close some of the most celebrated chefs from around the world. Last year's guests included Alex Atala (Brazil), René Redzepi (Denmark), Massimo Bottura (Italy), Andoni Aduriz( Spain), Daniel Humm (US), Eneko Atxa (Spain), Gaston Acurio and Virgillio Martinez (Peru), and David Kinch (US). A veritable who's who of the world of the food world!

This year the galaxy of stars has international heavy hitters as well. The Mexican culinary talent is well represented with numerous up and coming chefs, as well as others from related fields such as design, food journalism, food activists like Carlos Petrini of Slow Food, film makers like David Gelb of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" fame, and social activists like David Lida.

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