Fernando Andrés is a “Genius and Celebrity.” It’s not arrogance – that’s actually his brand (“Genio y Figura,” in Spanish), which has led him to appear on different stages and television programs to share his recipes.
For more than a year, this 32-year-old Nicoyan chef from the neighborhood of Santa Lucía has been the official face of Cemaco, a company for which he produces short cooking videos and which also organizes promotional events in stores.
He also has shared his talent in culinary schools such as O’Sullivan Culinary, and he thinks Guanacastecan students should think about starting their own projects.
The Voice of Guanacaste recently spoke with Andrés about his talents. Excerpts follow:
Did you dream about becoming a chef and appearing on TV? (He can be seen on “Giros” on Channel 6 and “Sin secretos con Doris” on Channel 13).
No, it was never my dream to become a chef. It’s not something I really set out to do, but rather it came about because of circumstance. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and by 16, I was baking cakes. Once I brought a piece of cake to a friend’s mom, and she asked how it is possible I’m not teaching classes. So I organized a group, and that’s how I got started. Television also wasn’t something I planned, it just happened by chance. But I started doing it and ended up really liking it. I’ve learned a lot, and I like it a lot.
San José has witnessed a gastronomical awakening, and every day there are more and more restaurants. Do you see parallel growth in Guanacaste?
No, sadly there isn’t as much variety. I believe – and insist – that we should do it. I think we have all the resources to create our own gastronomic hub. I think someone needs to start it, and the rest of us will support it.
You had a restaurant in Nicoya (Espazio) that had more of a gourmet menu, which was very different than the norm in this region. How did people respond?
Let me be sincere, when I had the restaurant, 98 percent of the support was from Guanacastecans. Everyone thought is was for foreigners, but that’s not the case. My customers were Guanacastecans. I can honestly say that I was a prophet in my own land.
Why did it close?
I didn’t continue because I had the opportunity to live in San José, and I felt like I wanted to leave. I think I’m the kind of person who does things, starts them and finishes them, and then leaves – like a gypsy.
Why the name Genio y Figura?
It’s one of my brands. I created it as a concept. It says “Genio y Figura,” and it can be a store, it can be a lot of things. It’s a brand with my identity. I don’t visualize it in a specific place, because it can be applied to many things. Now I have my own Facebook page, and I share videos with recipes.
What advice would you give to young Guanacastecans studying to become chefs, but who don’t want to work in the world of hotels and large chains?
Like me. I’ve never worked at a hotel. Sometimes in hotels they don’t allow you to be creative. I think people studying gastronomy should develop their own personal projects: a restaurant, catering or some other service. The offering here in Guanacaste isn’t very diverse, but we have everything to make it diverse. We produce everything, we have a great climate, what don’t we have?