Gabriel Layera changes his tone of voice when he talks about PES And how badly they treat sea food in Chile, he says. Just ask him how he began his way of chef, to talk without stopping his summers in Chigualoco, the influences of his grandmother in the kitchen, and his father, the main responsible for this today is his trade.
The story is not as romantic as it seems. It is not that Layera has wanted all his life to follow the ways of his father, one of the students of the first generation of cooks of Inacap. I just didn’t know what to study. His childhood at Colegio Francisco de Miranda was very free and says he never felt really good for a particular bouquet. At the age of 18, his father enrolled him to be a chef. And it didn’t bother him.
It was on the road that he discovered what he wanted to dedicate himself to. «I saw rotting, bad fish coming in, and the same school teachers worked the frozen stuff. I thought, ´, what happened to those incredible fish that I ate when I was a boy?
Titled Chef, he worked in two restaurants, excited to find in them good-level fish. «They put the fish by heaps in those ice-cream freezers. And that’s tearing them apart. It is a super delicate food and yet they were in plastic bags and left in water to defrost. If they didn’t use them, they would freeze them again. It was terrible, we all felt ripped off. »
It is not that the fish has to get fresh out of the sea to a person’s plate, but it is necessary to be careful. «You have a knowledge that fish is fresh only when it comes out of the water and not, the fish can be kept spotless for ten days, it all depends on the care they give and how they want to serve.»
After those jobs he defrauded Spain. And motivated by the Spanish gastronomic culture decided to undertake. «The treatment they give to the food is amazing. People respect their culture very much, especially in the culinary theme. » Back in Chile he opened «La Caleta Chile». He transformed a van to bring fish of all kinds from the beach to restaurants. Although he became known and began to go very well, he was not satisfied. «I tried to sell my favorite fish, but in general the cooks did not know them or said that their customers were not going to buy them. So I opened the calm, looking for a place where I can offer my fish and the things I like. » He asked for a credit. «It was a giant gamble. We are very simple and we do not have millions saved to invest. Suddenly I see that other locals arm, close, renew, and I am frightened by the 80 sticks I ordered. »
In 2017 inaugurated. «We offer seafood and fish at the point, simple but well cooked. Our emphasis is that if you want to eat a sea garden, everything is super fresh, with the correct cookings. Let the madmen be soft and the oysters firm, at their point. » Although the recommendation comes up close. As he is not interested in photos, magazines or being known, we could not access his kitchen. Not even to photograph a dish.
To supply your restaurant, fishing terminal or large companies?
The craftsman is the one who draws fish today. Big companies pull and suck fish, process and freeze. Everything is frozen with hake and salmon.
What’s with the deal they give the fish?
It happens to Me that all of a sudden those same business owners like to come here and eat a fresh fish. They love it, but it turns out that their company is making the fish that they themselves enjoy, disappear in a certain time. It’s very rare what happens in Chile. The sea is a hotbed of silver and they go crazy, blind.
That’s when it gets nostalgic. He says that when he was a boy he could see abundance of sea food and that he would love it to continue in thirty years. She remembers her grandmother cooking a festival of shellfish and conger eels that measured from the ceiling to the floor. «The fish were gigantic and now they are dwarfs.» Who can eat a rich and fresh fish?, he wonders. Immediately comes the answer: very few people. If even the guys who sell at the fair buy fish in bad condition in the fishing terminal because it is cheaper.
But then we can’t trust anywhere?
What happens is that it’s not the same as before. At the fair people are not going to pay the 40000 pesos that cost four kilos of fish and that end up being two of meat. It’s a bundle, and deep down it’s because there’s no market.
What do you mean by that?
Two things. First, that the sea is polluted and there are less and fewer fish. Secondly, that as Chileans we have lost identity. Now everyone prefers to spend their money on sushi, on fast food, on meat that is cheaper.
What do you expect for the future?
I’m optimistic, I have several things in mind. Although I do not know how calm is going to evolve, I would like to make a bar format, much faster, with shellfish and drinks, without so much formality. I am also seeing the possibility of installing a fish shop, and I would love to have a restaurant on the beach. I think I can make it because I have the sea covering myself my back.