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Colombia’s First Celebrity Chef

If anyone is the face of Colombian food it’s Chef Harry Sasson. Since opening his first restaurant in Bogota in 1995 at age 25 the chef has added four more eateries, written a cookbook, catered for the president of the country, and inspired a generation of up and coming homegrown talent.

“I admire Harry Sasson because he was a pioneer in the field,” says Colombian Chef Daniel Castaño, who was just a teenager when Sasson opened his first restaurant but the Batali alum now heads four of his own restaurants in Bogota. “Twenty years ago Harry Sasson put chefs in the spotlight when no one cared about them or their profession and he did it on his own. Still to this day he has one of the best restaurants in town and it’s better every day.”

Chef Castaño isn’t alone in that assessment. Regularly cited as a must-dine location in the increasingly food-forward capital of Colombia, Sasson’s eponymously-named flagship restaurant, which celebrates 20 years in business next year, was included on the 2013 and 2014 lists of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and was one of just four Colombian entries to make the list this year.

Sasson, who was trained at the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA), Colombia’s top culinary school, was so anxious to enroll that he almost dropped out of high school because he knew he could start courses with four years of lower school, but no graduation, under his belt. He may have always wanted to be a chef but he seems to prefer to chalk his considerable success up to anything but his own skills in the kitchen.

The chef expands his empire... 

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