Andrés Carnes de Res: the secrets of a restaurant that turns 40 – Gastronomy – Culture

“Do you know how to make ajiaco?” This was the question that Andrés Jaramillo asked Marco Beltrán the day he interviewed him to enter the kitchen of Andrés Carne de Res. It was 1988, the restaurant that is now a tourist destination, the flagship of Chía (near Bogotá) and the countryside, I had been walking for six years. “We called it ‘the chuzo of the variant’ – Beltrán recalls of those early times-. Large skewers and a salad bar were offered. Stella (Ramírez) and Andrés, its owners and founders, participated. There were only small enclosures around where cows occasionally grazed and a few lots planted with maize.

Beltrán had just graduated as a chef at Sena and Andrés Carne de Res was already a point of reference. It had been the fruit of the life project of Andrés and Stella, a couple they met in Bogotá, on a city bus: a vehicle that ultimately ended up inspiring the decoration of the place. Beltrán was not present at that initial moment, four decades ago, when Andrés Jaramillo hung the sign that he himself painted in red letters with the words “Andrés Carne de Res, atypical restaurant”, nor when they began to encourage the arrival of customers pulling out the red sheet, like in any other picket.

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But it was there ever since Jaramillo decided to step out of the cuts on the grill and offer something else. Under Beltrán’s leadership, Andrés Carne de Res has taken his menu to dimensions that are impossible for any other restaurant. Now they say their menu is not a page but a book. She started by adding typical Colombian dishes and followed by waves of dishes that represented the tastes and fashions of the generations that passed on her tables. Beltrán has become the right hand man, the best interpreter of the founder’s wishes, even when he decides to give a twist to a typical dish or to serve one of his culinary insignia in a different way.

Beltrán has been the hand of Jaramillo for more than three decades, the helmsman, “El Gaviero” as he defines himself in homage to the fictional character of Álvaro Mutis. And Beltrán was the one who guarantees that every loin of pork, every portion of pork rind or fried plantain with cheese comes out as the captain wants (even if he changes it every week), and also He traveled to receive awards and applause outside the country, such as when the restaurant was on the list of the 50 best in Latin America.

The chef, in charge of the giant kitchens at the Chía office, saw how the place has grown, not only in the menu, but also in space. He witnessed the way in which the lots around and in front were added (for the large parking lot with area to recover with hammocks and broth for those who live party evenings too intensely). Today his cuisine, born in Chía, has offices in Santa Marta, Cartagena and Medellín, as well as other formats such as La Plaza de Andrés, Andrés Express and el paradero.

The constant, all these years, according to Beltrán, is that Jaramillo manages to make changes in the decoration of that junk-overloaded stage or menu, every week.

“Andrés de Chía continues to grow – says the chef-. There is no Sunday the same. There are always different things. Which is part of the restaurant facility. You arrive at the weekend and the tables are square or there is a new ladle or another hanging vase on the ceiling. Andrés explained this by saying that everything has to do with useless things that become decorative tools. See that work as a thank you to items that were once functional and provided a service. Andrés pays them homage by placing them inside the restaurant, creating an aesthetic decoration. Whenever the restaurant closed on a Sunday, Andrés was already thinking about how to transform it so that the visitor could experience something different. The restaurant is made of details that change the experience. It is a constant, which is why he managed to develop his own workshop, with painters, welders and carpenters “.

As for the kitchen, the chef says that the place is the setting of the table in the house of Andrés’s parents, where every Sunday was a party. “That’s why – he explains -, the menu doesn’t change, it remains, as if the family kitchen was preserved in that staging”.

Beltrán remembers that when he arrived there were skewers and grilled meats. “Andrés was eager to do Colombian cuisine at a time when fusion was in fashion -evoca-. For him it was important to include ajiaco in the menu. And we started working from there ”.

Chef Marco Beltrán is already an institution on the site.


courtesy of the restaurant

And he hasn’t stopped putting in dishes ever since …

He wanted us to make the cuchuco, the sancocho and the stew. That part that we still have has begun to be born, that of traditional cuisine placed under the gaze and taste of Andrés. When we worked on the stew, he had cabbage and sausage. He said: I’m not a friend of cabbage, let’s go without it. And so we had. We make the cuchuco with chard. It contributes a lot.

What followed the arrival of those soups?

The evolution went from being a restaurant with a salad bar and a few cuts to having ceviche, steaks and Colombian cuisine. Andrés is very faithful to the dishes that have been made at a certain point and have been desired. He says that if at some point someone eats a cup of chickpeas and they like it, if he comes back in ten years, it’s important to have it. That fidelity is there. That’s why the menu is so big. And since there are those who say they are too lazy to read it, we make the waiter interact a lot with the diner.

There are dishes that at first glance you would not imagine finding there …

For me, the rice with fried egg and chips is spectacular. And there is the bowl of chickpeas and the vegetable soup, the prawn cream and the prawn encocado. Now, having Colombian cuisine doesn’t mean we don’t have Burgos-type black pudding. We have ours and that. We have provoleta, but also corn arepa and creole potato or paipa cheese sprinkled. There is a clear concept of extensive cuisine: not just grill, not just Colombian. It is the kitchen of a house that awaits its guests thinking that they will spend a fun and unique moment.

You say that Andrés always asks for changes, what recent changes has he made?

It is decided to the customer who makes his guacamole. That we pass the avocado on the table in a mortar, with a spoon, homemade chilli and oil so that the diner can mash it at the table and give it the consistency that he prefers. We spent about five weekends with that format and we love it. It is the same principle as the loin in a rag: the important thing in serving it is that people see how it is assembled and that the waiter involves them by showing how it comes out of the salt shell, they cut it and serve it.

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And there are specialties for groups …

For large groups we take out the toston, so that they combine it with various toppings: with or without cheese, guacamole, minced meat, pork rinds, hogao, which people mix. Andres has always wanted, and he says so in his letter, that the preparations were ordered to be shared at the center of the table. It is nice to invite you not to become the owner of a single dish, but that the dish serves everyone. He gives the possibility to try more things and not to order a single one and shut himself up in it.

When it comes to the table, there is always a totuma with coconut, cape gooseberry and mango …

There are also classic sauces: homemade chilli with coriander, onion and chilli, chimichurri and baby sauce (with chopped tomato). He recently asked us to do ajiaco for large groups in a clay pot. If there are five people, instead of ordering five ajiaco, bring them the pot and five cups so that they can try the soup, in a not too large portion, and they can order other things.

Andres Jaramillo

Andrés Jaramillo, founder of the restaurant, in his first office in chia.

Andrés is always attentive to every detail, even 40 years later …

This site is part of your life. Andrés cannot be separated from the restaurant. The kitchen works with a cookbook, but every weekend you have to take note of it, because he makes changes: he wants you to add or remove it. We have recently begun to suffer with black pudding: that we don’t serve them on a spit, that we put them on a plate, which is better on a hot plate, that we mince them, which is better not, which is better whole. He always seeks comfort for the diner. Now, the chorizos that used to go to a basket now come out sliced ​​on a hot plate and the black pudding goes into a small bowl with 10 Creole potatoes.

How many people work in Chía?

In the kitchen, 100 people. In the dining room, about 250.

The way to participate at the time was also surprising …

The waiters have always been college kids. They are aspiring psychologists, architects, philosophers, writers, lawyers. In induction, the emphasis is on the sense of service. Andrés sums it up like this: “May the children feel they are attending a guest in their home, as if everyone were inviting a friend”. It is not easy, because the turnover is high, I have worked with many generations: I have lived the time of those with long hair, that of men with beards, that of barefoot (with pants mid-buttocks), but also those with pants ripped to the knee and those dressed in white shirts and shiny shoes. We are in the tattooed generation, the one with circles and rings. I didn’t know when I arrived. “

In the culinary preferences there are also stages …

35 or 40 years ago we served gentlemen who appreciated a cuchuco or were looking for sancocho. In that generation we talk about Colombian cuisine, we love the country, priority is given to Creole and salted potatoes. But how many sit down to ask for sancocho? They order burgers and salads. We also move on to fitness, lean and to the non-animal part, more vegetable. They are cycles. At this time we serve those who want a cuchuco or stew and those looking for a salad. Maybe the son doesn’t order the soup, but the father does.

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How much cuchuco do they ask?

Much. Cuchuco and ajiaco as an appetizer.

And there are experiences beyond …

Once Ferrán Adriá came to a conference in La Sabana and passed Andrés. My first thought was what we will offer him. Suddenly I said to him: do you want to see how an arepa is done? And I started shelling the cob, he helped me grind the corn, we made the corn arepas and the fried potatoes. We do things like this with some groups.

And what was it like to come back after the pandemic?

Many people have left. We couldn’t open all the kitchens at once. Capacity had to do with the number of diners who could enter. So far we are reevaluating everything to get all the dishes back. We are putting what we lack, we started with the most representative, now we are approaching 100 percent of the old letter. For me it is a pride to continue to participate in a site like this that has been working for 40 years and that has managed to maintain itself thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of Andrés Jaramillo.

Liliana Angelica Martinez Polo