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Glorious Guatemalan Gourmet

Experiencing the evolution of a country, one bite at a time.

I have always been fascinated with Guatemala. It is a land of stunning beauty, rich cultural heritage, and a people as colorful as the fabrics that adorn the women of this ever-welcoming Central American nation. Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala offers a Mayan culinary palette with a rich history of international influences.  

Ancestral foods such as corn, squash, honey, and cacao were not only sustenance, they also held cultural significance. These ingredients symbolized the Mayans' close connection to the land and their rich culinary heritage, passed down through generations of ancestors. This small but culturally diverse country has evolved its culinary traditions over centuries, drawing from indigenous Mayan roots, Spanish colonial heritage, and a delicious rainbow of global flavors. In recent decades, globalization has brought even more international flavors to Guatemala. The country has embraced Asian, African, and North American cuisines, resulting in an eclectic culinary landscape ripe for your next globally relevant dining adventure.

Relais & Châteaux

Relais & Châteaux is the pinnacle of global excellence in hospitality and fine dining. There are 580 properties across the world that have received this very special demarcation and Casa Palopó and Villa Bokéh are the only two properties in Guatemala to achieve the Relais & Châteaux status and identifying plaque on their thresholds. The mission, “to preserve the diversity of cuisines and hospitality in this world so that future generations can know and share in their richness,” is top of mind for everyone at these two equally magical destinations. The incredible staff at this Guatemalan dynamic duo are making a better world through their cuisine and gracious hospitality.

Chef Marcos Saenz

When Chef Marcos and I first met I was taken by his understated charm and presence. Born in Heuhuetenango, Guatemala, his respect for small local farmers is only matched by his desire to use the most time-honored, indigenous, seasonal products. Casual in conversation and very honest about his approach to cooking, Chef Marcos was to make a huge impact on my visit to Guatemala. Growing and buying locally is certainly a key to his success but so is the romance between Chef Marcos and his ingredients. Each bite celebrates his culinary journey and adds to the global excitement behind Guatemalan cuisine.

Casa Palopó

Casa Palopó is perched on the edge of Lake Atitlán, one of the most picturesque spots in Guatemala. Formed as a result of a massive volcanic eruption some 84,000 years ago, this lake in Guatemala’s southwestern highlands is over 50 square miles and is dotted with small, colorful communities rich with Mayan cultural heritage. The lake is surrounded by three giant volcanos and many hills which offer some of Guatemala’s most dramatic and awesome views. This luxurious, tiered, boutique hotel is renowned for its stunning vistas and exciting gourmet cuisine. Chef creates dishes that celebrate the rich and vibrant culinary heritage of the nation. Each dish is as visually stunning as it is delicious. Whether you choose to enjoy the outstanding interpretation of a Peruvian Ceviche, the Duck Breast with green pea puree, cassava fake charcoal, roasted cambry onion with hibiscus and orange reduction, or the table side Bananas Foster you are certainly in for one incredibly memorable meal.

Villa Bokéh

Located on the outskirts of Antigua, Villa Bokéh is a six-acre colonial-style estate that embodies all the understated elegance and character of historical Antigua.  Lush gardens and a lagoon give rise to a picture-perfect view of Volcán de Agua, an active volcano that towers over the property and all of Antigua. The restaurants at Villa Bokéh offer a prime example of how Guatemalan cuisine has evolved and embraced international influences. Bring your appetite and be sure to enjoy the chef’s signature Creamy Corn Soup or the Mediterranean Shrimp, polenta cake, fava bean hummus, and roasted cherry tomatoes with parsley chimichurri.  

I have never been as impacted by my travels, nor the people that met, as I was in Guatemala. Throughout the trip, I was offered a glimpse into the heart and soul of a people who, despite change, honored tradition, family, and culture ever so highly. Every meal was a dinner with friends, family, and loved ones. I have never been more impressed by the simplicity of people, whose undefinable richness, left me always wanting more.

"I believe that every cuisine has to have an identity.  It needs to know its culture and roots. It is so important to represent our cuisine."  - Chef Marcos Saenz