Open Sesame: Meet Mariana Velásquez!
Sometimes a person walks into a room and you immediately feel their joyous energy and generous spirit. Just writing this short intro about Mariana Velásquez makes me smile and it fills me with gratitude to call her a friend and culinary inspiration! We were honored to help her celebrate the launch of her first cookbook, Colombiana. Get to know Mariana below!
Q: What are some of the tunes in your kitchen playlist?
I love listening to the playlists my husband Diego curated for the menus of my cookbook. The tunes vary from the epic Carmen Miranda to the contemporary Salt Cathedral- here is one of my favorites.
Q: What’s the last thing you ate that brought you joy?
Tiny, candy like, strawberries from the farmer’s market. Their season is so fleeting…
Q: What's an ingredient that you love that you think people underestimate?
Rice vinegar- it adds the perfect touch of acidity to brighten just about any recipe.
Q: Who are your culinary heroes?
My grandmother Adela, who could whip up lunch for 20 with her eyes closed and with such grace. Alice Waters and Chef Margarita Forés in Manila.
Q: Favorite Sunday night dinner?
Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herbs and a bottle of red wine.
Q: Favorite food travel destination (other than Colombia, of course!)?
Hong Kong! I love that city, the cultural layers, from the street food to fine dining. The streets feel cinematic and food becomes part of the narrative. I would move there in a second.
Q: What fruit or vegetable feels more like art to you? (e.g. for us it would pomegranates or blood oranges!)
Ah, I love this question… As a stylist I'm always in awe of the shapes, colors and textures of fruits and vegetables. But I must say I have a soft spot for citrus- all varieties, limes, pomelos, lemons, kumquats, grapefruits… their segmented pulp, the color and oiliness of their skins, not to mention their fragrant blossoms...
Q: What's a “foodie” related book, podcast, or movie you love?
I recently re-read Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl. Ruth’s writing is so rich and transportive.
Q: Most memorable restaurant experience?
Contraste in Milano- I was alone in the city for two nights after la Fiera del Mobile and I was taken to this exquisite restaurant by a friend of a friend who turned out to be a wine collector. We didn’t know each other and it was kind of a wild card. He took me to this restaurant in a house in a residential area with decadent Murano chandeliers, 70’s cut marble floors, and ultra minimalist décor. It was such an unexpected evening I took it all in. We tasted the best wines along with a 12 course elaborate dinner and even though this is not the way I dream about food, this evening took my breath away and I made a new friend.