There’s no denying that good food puts you in a good mood. In fact, we love good food so much that there are seven (!) official safari mealtimes at &Beyond. Calories don’t count when you’re on holiday (fact) and we always encourage our guests to just let go and truly enjoy the moment – through all of the senses. Sample the unique local delicacies, swap recipes with our expert chefs, go back for seconds and never skip dessert. The food is just as important as the adventure itself, so leave the d-i-e-t (four-letter word) at home and spoil yourself with the flavours of the destination.
&Beyond Vira Vira, our first lodge in South America, has been delighting &Beyond guests for almost two months now. Not only have they been raving about the lodge and its breathtaking location and impressive selection of adventures for all ages (from leisurely to heart-thumping), but the mouth-watering meals continue to steal the limelight, which comes as no surprise.
The &Beyond Vira Vira family places a strong emphasis on the food experience and guests spend idle hours, both inside the charmingly luxurious lodge itself and outdoors in the most picturesque of settings, savouring world-class Chilean wines and hearty, wholesome (and unbelievably moreish) farm-to-table meals. Organic fruits and vegetables bursting with natural flavour are grown in the lodge’s vegetable garden, freshly-baked bread and sinful pastries are served with homemade butter and preserves, and fresh parmesan, gruyère and manchego (to name a few) are produced in Vira Vira’s own quesería (in-house cheese dairy). It doesn’t get more wholesome and organic than that!
Get to know our foodie experts
It takes an entire team of extremely talented, passionate and ever creative food lovers to dream up and lovingly prepare these delectable, world-class meals and irresistible treats. Two of these extraordinarily gifted foodies at &Beyond Vira Vira are: French-trained chef Damián Fernández Dupouy, whose world-famous and gourmet, yet never pretentious, farm-to-table dishes continue to entice food connoisseurs from around the world; and cheese-maker Marisol Martinez, who is renowned for her wholesome, authentic and flavourful cheeses that get devoured by our guests.
Damián Fernández Dupouy
How would you describe the Vira Vira food experience?
The Vira Vira kitchen varies according to the season. We work with our thriving organic garden, the Pacific Ocean and our best local produce to create memorable, yet always healthy and wholesome, meals that will have our guests unashamedly asking for seconds.
What ingredients do you like to use?
Some of my favourite delicacies include homegrown asparagus from our garden, honey from the Curarrehue valley and flakes of fresh parmesan from our quesería. I like to create dishes that celebrate the hard work of the gardener, local farmers and our skilled cheese-maker – together, they tell a beautiful story.
What is your favourite garden vegetable to cook with?
Without a doubt, it’s the artichoke. Always fresh from our garden, I love to serve it with fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean and flavourful wild herbs.
Describe Vira Vira’s farm-to-table food concept.
We work in the most natural and organic way possible. The benefits in terms of taste are incredible and guests can rest assured knowing the origin of the foods we work with. We always give priority to local produce and it is my obsession to work with only the best products.
Our vegetables and other food items change with each season and our kitchen always adapts to that. Fresh vegetables and herbs are picked straight from the organic garden right next to the kitchen twice a day – this is a gift for us.
We are also extremely proud of our homemade cheeses and artisan delicacies. They are made with dedication and passion and it is a real privilege to be able to incorporate these Vira Vira-made specialties into every meal.
How did you get into cheese-making?
I joined Vira Vira in 2016 (before it was an &Beyond property) with a background as a chef, however, I had never actually made cheese before in my life! The more I thought about it, the more my curiosity and interest grew. Pierre Coulin, a professional cheese-maker from Switzerland, joined me in Vira Vira’s quesería for 15 days, teaching me the beautiful and precise art of cheese-making.
I don’t speak French and Pierre speaks very little Spanish, so it was very entertaining to see us communicating with words and signs. He told me to learn simply by watching him and observing the whole process. After only five days, I was already making my first cheeses and other dairy products, from blue cheese and camembert, to quark and yoghurt.
Can you describe the cheese-making process?
A special delivery of natural milk (360 litres) from a nearby farm is delivered to the quesería every morning, which immediately gets filtered in the pasteurisation tank. Once it reaches 72°C, we separate out some of the milk for some of the fresher cheeses and yoghurt, and the remainder stays in the tank until the milk cools down to 32°C and the bacteria cultures are then added. Once the mixture thickens, we cut it into small pieces and place them in sterilised moulds and allow the excess liquid to drain overnight.
The next day, we flip each mould over to remove the cheese. It is then immersed in salted water for a few days, then stored in a maturation chamber. Cheese-making involves daily care and monitoring, not to mention patience (they are ready to eat within one to three years). Their scents fascinate me. Each one is different, depending on their age and maturation. For example, the parmesan is an intense cheese with a strong smell and taste, which differentiates it from the other cheeses. My favourite part is when the cheeses start to change colour, from white to a yellow-orange colour once they are ready. Our Vira Vira cheese is made with care and lots of love, and that is the secret ingredient.
So, bring your sense of adventure and a hearty appetite when you visit &Beyond Vira Vira. Every meal is creative, beautifully presented and will leave you wanting more. We hope you will take the time to meet with Marisol and explore her quesería and perhaps share a fireside chat with Damián … if you’re lucky, he may even share a recipe with you.