Marsia Taha Mohamed
Chef Marsia Taha did not grow up cooking at her mother’s knee, she did not inherit recipes handed down orally by her grandma. No, Taha grew up in a family of independent working women and it was her father who did the nightly cooking. But she revealed in the colours, aromas, and flavours of La Paz’s bustling markets and vibrant street food culture, where Bolivian women play prominent roles.
Gustu, whose name means flavour in the Indigenous Quechua language, was founded by restaurateur Claus Meyer (of Noma fame). The enterprise had a dual mission: celebrating a new Bolivian cuisine and establishing a cooking school to train youth from vulnerable populations. Brought into the project by its opening chef, the award-winning Kamilla Seidler, Taha rose through the ranks from sous chef to co-head chef to helming the kitchen herself. Along the way she staged at eminent restaurants in Copenhagen, including Geist and The Standard.
Today, she oversees a restaurant deeply committed to exploring and celebrating Bolivian culture and identity through gastronomy. Her restaurant embraces a “kilometer zero” philosophy, meaning that every ingredient that finds its way onto the plate or into the glass is produced in-country. As Taha explains, “to be a Bolivian and a chef demands great responsibility these days, since we are in a process of consolidating a gastronomy with strong identity, that revalorizes what is ours. Everything I do in my kitchen clearly reflects my culture and identity.”
Chef Marsia combines her work at the helm of Gustu’s kitchen with her Sabores Silvestres project, a multidisciplinary group of chefs, biologists, ethnobotanists, agronomists and scientists who seek to research, understand and preserve Bolivian products and food heritage.
Instagram: @marsia_taha_gustu @gusturestaurant
Restaurant web site: http://www.gustu.bo/es
Restaurant address: Calle 10 de Calacoto #300, Bolivia