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Recipe for a food festival: Tortas, food trucks and celebrity chefs

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Massimo Bottura. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida, Yucatán — Not limited to art and theater, Mérida Fest 2018 is a magnet for celebrity chefs.

The city will welcome Massimo Bottura, the famous Italian proprietor of three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana, which in 2016 was named the best restaurant in the world.

Bottura is the subject of a 2016 documentary film “Theater of Life,” about a soup kitchen he created using food waste from Expo 2015 in Milan. He was on the Peninsula in 2013 when he was a guest of honor at the 2013 Cancún-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival.

He is also considered the alchemist who reinvented Italian cuisine.

He will be accompanied by yet more celebrity chefs: Antonio Bachour, a Puerto Rican pastry chef and author based in Miami; Edgar Núñez, owner of Sud777 in Mexico City; and Zahie Téllez, who is seen on the Discovery Channel, said Pedro Evia, organizer of the gastronomic conference and chef-owner of the restaurant Ku’uk.

The activities will begin 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19 with the Festival del Sabor, at the Remate del Paseo de Montejo. “Gastronomy is not just gourmet food, so we bring the festival with the best exponents of regional food,” he said.

Wayané, El Negro Gil de Santiago, Tortas Don Omar, La Lupita de Santa Ana and La Poderosa de Altabrisa will be joined by food trucks Agogó, Paps, Wings Wagon and El Curi.

Festival del Sabor will include music from Té Yucateco, with a repertoire of Latin American music, and Musiek, featuring of 1970s disco music.

Botura will also lead a conference at noon, Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Teatro Daniel Ayala. A roundtable of chefs will share their perspectives on the world of gastronomy.

Pedro Evia said that a year ago Massimo visited Mérida and fell in love with the city, and despite having a complicated schedule that will take him through Argentina, Miami and other parts of the United States, he will arrive in Mérida next weekend.

Free tickets to the conference will be available 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. this weekend at the Olimpo Cultural Center while supplies last. Due to the demand of people interested in attending the event, a maximum of two tickets per person will be handed out.

The third and final gastronomic activity is an eight-course charity dinner, prepared by the famed guest chefs, 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21 at Ku’uk. Tickets to the dinner, which were limited to 100 guests at 3,000 pesos apiece, are already sold out.

Proceeds will benefit Albergue Reina de la Paz de las Hermanas Misioneras de la Caridad, and the Institución Asistencia, A.C., which in turn supports two institutions: los Albergues Temporales San Vicente de Paul and the Buena Voluntad.

The full Mérida Fest program is online.

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