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Claus Meyer's Gustu Aims to Elevate Bolivian Cuisine

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Chefs Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari, and Bolivia's indigenous pacay fruit.
Chefs Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari, and Bolivia's indigenous pacay fruit.
Photos: Bloomberg Pursuits magazine

Next month, Noma co-owner Claus Meyer will open his newest restaurant Gustu in La Paz, Bolivia, an ambitious restaurant that aims to do for Bolivian cuisine what Noma did for the New Nordic and what Gaston Acurio has done for Peruvian cuisine. Bloomberg critic Ryan Sutton spent some time in Bolivia for Bloomberg Pursuits magazine — "the poorest state in South America" — to preview the $1.1 million restaurant and cooking school that aims to raise the profile of Bolivian food and help develop the country's food movement.

In the piece, Sutton initially expresses some doubt about who would travel to Bolivia just for a dining experience and whether the pricey tasting menu will shut out the locals. But, he adds, "that was before I tried the llama." And, as Sutton notes over at The Bad Deal, Gustu is so much more than just an upscale destination restaurant with a tasting menu that runs $260 for two. It's also "a restaurant that makes improving people's lives an integral part of its business model." He dubs it the "next great social restaurant."

Meyer explains that the point is to follow the Acurio model of turning "native fare into an exportable commodity." The restaurateur says he plans to reinvest much of the profit into the Bolivian food movement, and it has brought in young Bolivians to train as cooks and staff. As Meyer explains, "When our students leave Gustu, we have the intention of investing in them and their ideas. ... So the idea of Gustu will disseminate into Bolivian society and not remain something just for the rich." The restaurant opens in April.

· Noma's Co-Owner Thinks Bolivian Food Is the Next Big Thing [Bloomberg Pursuits]
· The Next Great Social Restaurant Is in Bolivia [The Bad Deal]
· All Claus Meyer Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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