We are delighted to continue our series of introducing and presenting some of the great people that we work with on a daily basis. This time, Cristina Lopez, owner of the beautiful Villa Beluno in Bariloche. Read here how Cristina starts her day and whom she would like to invite to her house for dinner.
When you were a child, what was your favourite dish cooked by your mother or grandmother?
The favourite dish of my childhood was the Valencian Risotto that my grandmother used to cook with so much love.
How was your education and training as chef?
If I’d go into all the details, this would be a very long answer. To sum it up in a few words however, I spent my life studying cooking. Basically I started with my grandmother who was an excellent cook. From there, I took many courses and studies to train as a professional chef. I am very detailed in the making of a dish and its presentation, very demanding with myself and I spend a lot of time researching the products to get the best out of them.
How do you start a regular day (when the hotel is open)?
The day begins in the kitchen and the patisserie kitchen, checking the fridges and store rooms, hosting the daily meeting with the chefs and pastry assistant. I like to inspect the kitchen areas on a daily basis to guarantee order and hygiene. I also check the products that arrive at the hotel, and I go to the greenhouse to see what items are available to incorporate into the daily menu. I like to participate in the preparation of the dishes and check that they go out to the guest as they are supposed to. The presentation and quality of what arrives at the table of our diners is essential for me, since it is a reflection of myself, of what I want to offer and of the experience that I want to transmit. Therefore, the kitchen is an area of great focus of mine. Seeing guests congratulating the team for both the attention to detail in the service as well as for flavours and taste of the food gives me the greatest satisfaction that I can ask for after a long and hard day of work.
If you have the opportunity to cook together with any chef in the world, who would you choose and why?
If I had the chance, I would love to cook together with Nancy Silverton and Thomas Keller. They are two of the chefs that I admire and with whom I identify with the most. In Argentina my choices are Dolli Irigoyen and Beatriz Chomnalez who were my teachers for many years. I choose them because I identify with their flavours and visions. They have a simple and elegant style, using as much fresh and natural products as possible.
What is your favorite dish on your menu at your restaurant Avellana?
There is no dish that I prefer over another. It is a very personal menu, very much that of my family. I love offering a daily special because I use the products that I find fresh on the market and in my greenhouse. Due to this, every day offers a new surprise that comes from the daily inspiration and what is fresh on offering. This keeps us creative!
What has been the most outstanding experience since the opening of the Villa Beluno hotel?
Well, with the short time that the hotel has been open so far, I think that until now the most beautiful experience we have had were the festive days last year. The hotel was full of families and they all celebrated in a very warm and comfortable atmosphere. For us it was something very special, our dream come true!
If you and your husband could invite someone special to have dinner with you at home, who would you invite and why?
We would love to receive Thomas Keller or Nancy Silverton! Together with them we would enjoy a culinary experience in our beautiful home.
What is your favorite panoramic view of the Lake District?
In my opinion, our hotel is located in one of the most beautiful places on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. The suites and public areas all offer views of Victoria Island and the breath-taking mountains of the majestic Andes. That, for me, is the best view of Bariloche.