The DJ Cookbook celebrated the 7th edition of our dinner series at the Soho Beach House in Miami on a tropical late December evening with two of Venezuela’s most prized musical and culinary exports. Chef Carlos García and DJ David Rondón united forces to showcase Venezuelan innovation and talent through nostalgia and respect for the flavors and sounds of this nation at war. Proceeds of this event went to Barriga Llena Corazón Contento, a Venezuelan foundation that helps feed sick children at the J.M de los Ríos pediatric hospital.
For those that don’t know, Carlos García is a man with elite training having worked at El Bulli and El Celler de Can Roca, but he’s also a man with immense respect for his land and its people. He opened his fine dining restaurant Alto (rated No. 32 on the continent by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy) in Caracas in 2007 and as the political tides got more turbulent he managed to adapt his menu to the foods available on mostly empty shelves.
Flavors drifted from Mediterranean to more local ingredients, elevating the ubiquitous arepa, the understated dogfish and the uncontested cacao. Given the incessant struggles Venezuela has faced since the opening of Alto, Chef has decided to start anew in the sunshine state, never the less Alto remains open. As of this past month he inaugurated Obra, a more casual Venezuelan eatery in Miami.
Our selector for the evening was David Rondón, a Venezuelan Radio host, Music Journalist and DJ who has worked across the globe interviewing musicians and exploring cultures through music. He is also a recipient of the International Young Music Entrepreneur awarded by the Britsh Council. Currently he’s a resident DJ at Juvia, a restaurant on Miami Beach and continues his daily Venezuelan radio show with Circuito Lider FM remotely.
Each DJ Cookbook dinner brings a Chef and DJ together to collaborate on an original concept that speaks to both of them by merging music and a five course mostly vegetarian meal. This time around the participants not only knew each other from Caracas but are also friends, so putting together the event became a beautifully synced dance during which music and food fully embraced.
The dinner was subtlety threaded by the aromatic flavor of garlic. The meal began with a whey curd and arepa crust. This was followed by white cured asparagus with poached egg and garlic migas. Then came an unbelievable vegetable bone marrow made from hollowed out potatoes cooked in charcoal, then roasted and filled with a cauliflower, garlic, onion and nori puree topped with garlic crisps. Its deep, rich flavor encapsulated the essence of actual bone marrow. The two main dishes followed: a fleshy roasted cabbage with cashew praline and mojo criollo, and a red snapper with arepa frita and an habanero emulsion. The dinner culminated with an almond rice pudding finished with black garlic ganache.
Simultaneously, Rondón took us on an eclectic journey of Venezuelan music. Each dish was paired with an identifying song. This particular song served as the introduction to that course and guided its development. For example, the opening bite of whey curd and arepa crust was paired with Simón Díaz’s Tonada del Cabestrero this opened the gateway to explore la Tonada Llanera. A style of folkloric music used by agricultural workers as a ritual when tending their heard, fishing, grinding corn – or in this case milking their cows. This was followed by more Venezuelan waltz and Onda Nueva; both being classical resonances that encompass the foundation of the Venezuelan sound. Later in the evening we listened to new Venezuelan talents like Crema Paraiso – paired with the cabbage main, Rawayana and Trujillo. The dinner ended on an upbeat note inspired by Betsayda Machado’s Pueblo Fiesta and García’s almond rice pudding.
The evening, although difficult on many levels, given Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, was simultaneously beautiful and uplifting. Seeing a community of Soho House members and non-members (mostly Venezuelan expats) come together to honor the soundscapes and flavors, and raise money for the children of a country facing such hardship was truly touching. Thank you to all that made this evening possible. Venezuela needs your support!