OT: Omar Pereney interview
  Re: (...)
The new season of Yo, Cocinero has started on El Gourmet, and the first episode was fried chicken with homemade cilantro mayonnaise and homemade potato chips.

The El Gourmet site is behind on posting new recipes, so I tried a quick Google search. Although I didn't find the recipe, I did find the following article (which I have translated out of Spanish, of course), from July 22, of an interview with an Argentine webwite. Since a few of you were interested when I mentioned Omar's show in the "Chef-a-Nota" thread, you may enjoy this, as well and it may be a good thing for encouraging the younger generation of up-and-coming cooks.

Omar Pereney. Flavoured with Papelón
[Papelón is the Venezuelan word for the unrefined, dark-brown sugar that is known as piloncillo in Mexico, panela in Colombia and some other countries and rapadura in Honduras and some other countries.]

[Image: omar20p20120liv202.jpg]]

Chance and curiosity marked the destiny of Omar Pereney.

Photos and text by Chevene

Starting in a trade dominated by a few, including some that many would call elite, and succeeding at an early age is not easy to achieve. Omar just turned 16 and is already a public figure throughout Latin America because of his program,Yo, Cocinero, broadcast on Gourmet.com for a couple of years.

At age 12, Omar showed his interest in cooking and did what any curious person would do: began to investigate. ''I went to work in a restaurant almost by accident. We went to Sibaris with my family and decided to greet the owner, telling him that I liked to cook and wanted to work there. He said that was fine and then said, "Your car is nice" and they answered, "it's yours", but more as a saying because you know that he's not going to ask for the car the next day, but I took his word [about the job], and for a week I called him every day, and I started to work there Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.''

Thus, Omar Pereney began in the kitchen, through the hand of chance and curiosity. He said they didn't even have any other cooks in his family. "I'd love having a fantastic story of how I got started, something like 'one day I woke up and dreamed that my mission in life was ...' but no: just someone twelve years old who had curiosity." With his young age, Omar has gained important experience in several restaurants in Caracas, such as Sibaris, Mokambo, Antigua, Tragaluz and Siete Mares, among others. Next, we reveal a little better, his determined personality.

How did you start on TV?
My dad wrote a letter to the people of the channel and, coincidentally, they were looking for a youthful figure. So it was a bit of luck and momentum. They were having a hard time getting a kid who was a cook, let alone someone who could teach young people to cook, because they wanted a host who would give freshness to the channel. I did a screen test and stayed, it was all very fast.

What are your favourite dishes to prepare?
First, they have to be complete meals, that is, have a bit of everything. I'm a young, Venezuelan cook and it seems to me that the most interesting and honest thing is to bring to everyone the offerings of Venezuelan cuisine, and that's what I do. In fact, all my presentations in Panama in Peru are associated with Venezuelan cuisine.

Your cooking skills, then, come mostly from working in restaurants, not academia.
I think it comes as 70% of informal learning, the profession itself, because the kitchen is fully practical and made up, in a manner of speaking, and the remaining 30% is the result of my academic training. I have no title from any school because in Venezuela you have to be more than 18 years old to be recognized in a formal school. I studied on my own, and have taken many courses, but I have no titles and I like that because I am a cook by craft and training as nearly everyone who gives classes in the cooking schools which are relatively new. The kitchen has always been taught in another way.

[Image: omar20120liv201.jpg]

And when you think about studying, where would you like to go?
It could be in New York, in Paris, I'm not sure.

What other world cuisine catches your attention?, Perhaps as fusion with the Venezuelan ...
The pillar of gastronomy in much of the world has much to do with notions of the French. But it strikes me that you ask me this, because the Venezuelans say to me, "And after you have made Venezuelan food, what are you going to do?" And that it is somewhat belittling of our food, but I will always praise it. So, Omar Pereney is never going to be a promoter of Basque cuisine, to tell you one thing.

Do you think Venezuelan cuisine is very complex or do you make it simpler?
I think for the Argentinian, it is easier to cook Argentine cuisine and for the Venezuelan to cook Venezuelan cuisine, so I think it's vital that citizens of each country project their own cuisine internationally.

Of everything you've cooked what do you most like to prepare? Do you have a favourite dish that you like to repeat again and again?
I don't like to repeat much because I get bored. I've made Asado Negro [a traditional, Venezuelan roast beef] many times because it is very representative of Venezuela. I find it very easy to cook for many people. In Peru, for example I made it for 1,000 guests. The truth is that, wherever I go, I find that they like the Venezuelan flavours very much, but the trouble is that we do not embody that struggle and do not make it known. However, whenever I present a sampling of Venezuelan food I have received very good reviews. These sweet-and-sour flavours, our stews, mixtures with chocolate - we have to exploit that because otherwise we are in trouble.

What cooks do you admire?
It is good that you ask me that way, and not, "What chef would like to be?" Because I would say, "Like me," that is, "I want to be like Omar Pereney." Actually, I like admiring many, and not just a specific one. I follow Venezuela's Hector Romero, Juan Carlos Bruzual ("The Baker of Venezuela"); in pastry, Wendoly Lopez. I'm just now starting to know the internationals. In Panama I met Marcelo Tejedor who works in Galicia and has two Michelin stars, and also with Douglas Rodriguez, who has opened over 38 restaurants under his name. Even so, there are many I still don't know.

If you had not gotten involved in cooking, what would you have wanted to do? Or, well, do you imagine a future only dedicated to cooking?
I never got to think what else I could do, that is, I do not have a "plan B." That could be bad, or not, but people are not going to stop eating. There are many parents who still have a bad prejudice and get bothered when their children tell them they want to study cooking. They ask, "Why don't you study something serious first?" For my part, later I may consider something to supplement my career, such as a marketing or advertising.

And your relationship with your family? How has that been? Just since you mention that people in Venezuela do not look very favourably upon cooking.
Now it's all passed but, at first, my father and I would fight. I think that I, like many cooks, are breaking new ground for the next generation that wants to get into cooking. To be a cook does not have a bad connotation and it is well away from being a taboo as it once was.

And with your friends?
This year I do not know how I'll go, because I was in one school from the first year to fourth, but recently had to change. With my former companions,everything was all right because they had known me from when I was very young, even before I started doing TV, and now with the new school will see what happens.

Do people recognise you on the street, now?
Yes. In Venezuela they do and here in Buenos Aires even more.

If you could define yourself with a taste, or an ingredient, what would it be?

Let's see. Once, here in El Palomar, in the restaurant of a friend who's a cook, I made a tasting and put together a Venezuelan menu very quickly and I came to realise that all the dishes contained papelón. That seemed incredible to me because you can make anything with papelón; sweet arepitas, cassava, asado negro browned with papelón, polvorosas de pollo [a crumble-crusted chicken pie] where the filling has papelón, papelón with lemon, and always like it because its flavour is very adaptable.

What do you think about the cuisine of Argentina?
Argentina has something that Venezuela has, because of the immigration of a lot of cultures. The cuisine of the South of this country is more based on what they have. Its great strength is, therefore, meat, and they have always developed around it, with their star product: the roast. And if anything has had much influence on Argentine cuisine, it is that they don't have well established aboriginal roots, nor African, so it is very different to what we are in Venezuela.
If blueberry muffins have blueberries in them, what do vegan muffins have?
  Re: OT: Omar Pereney interview by labradors (The new season of [i...)
nice article - he sure has his head on straight.
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.
  Re: OT: Omar Pereney interview by labradors (The new season of [i...)
Wow, very cool! He's so young, yet seems so well versed in cooking.
Keep your mind wide open.
  Re: OT: Omar Pereney interview by labradors (The new season of [i...)
Wow! Wonderful interview with this young man. Sounds like he is really going to be a chef/contender one day.
"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
  Re: Re: OT: Omar Pereney interview by luvnit (Wow! Wonderful inter...)
Not just one day. Obviously, he's doing pretty well already - travelling to give presentations and tastings, a second season to his TV program (and his sister will be joining him on episodes featuring breads and baked goods), etc. Very cool!

Still want to make the Arepa recipes of his that I posted earlier. Just need to wait a couple of weeks until I have some money again.
If blueberry muffins have blueberries in them, what do vegan muffins have?

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