Global Perspectives:
Chef in Residence

Meet Gloria Kabe; Connecting culture, cuisine, and community at MUSA

At the cross-section of community and culture, you will most always find food. In its simultaneously pragmatic and leisurely nature, food, as an experience, and as a practice surrounding everything from preparation, process, and dining in its final form is all an exercise in connecting with people and nurturing community. In its very essence, whether it's for the purpose of enjoyment, nourishment, or the harmonious blend of both; food and cuisine through a global lens is a unifier and a universal truth in how humans interact and move through the world. Be it through travel, geography, or family origins, food and the creation of exceptional cuisine through the skillful application of technique and methods gathered over unique personal histories is an element that adds to the romance of it all; the idea that food has a story, a context, and perspective all of its own, and tell these stories entirely unique to the the chef, the diner, and the very moment it is consumed.

Through this power, food is in fact culture; not only in the sense of how we enjoy it, but why; to take part in a ritual of celebration with which we are able to engage with our bodies, each other, our chosen and inbuilt communities, and our prosperous landscapes that provide the ingredients for us live and thrive, in ways that are unique to our environment and setting. Even more special - when another part of the world comes together on your plate via the poetic transcendence of today’s socio-cultural evolutions and we are taught new and interesting ways of engaging with places and people than we had before. Hence, food, but more specifically, cooking, and the art of it, is a culture that allows for global perspectives, influence, and inspiration to be woven and experienced into every step of the process - from sourcing, menu conception, laboured prep, and in the grand finale, the consumption, over courses, plates, table tops, and of various dining settings.

Bringing a beautiful, seasoned, and balanced outlook on food to MUSA this October in our very first Chef in Residence program, coveted independent Afro-vegan Chef, Gloria Kabe, is the embodiment of celebration through cuisine. Originating in Paris and growing up travelling the world via Brazil, London, Jamaica, and beyond; Gloria is a rising star of the food scene for integrating her intense flavour combinations and rich, nomadic influence on plant-based dishes that are crafted for whole-body health. Having visited Oaxaca, Mexican cuisine stands tall in Gloria’s top five favourite food lists, but as a novice to Mexican kitchens, Gloria’s global knowledge and curiosity with perfecting local techniques will act as an education as much as an experience for herself, MUSA’s staff, and our guests in this exciting month-long residency that will excite and impress palates in an immersive collaboration between artist and destination.

Seeking to get to the heart of experience through tasting the most authentic dishes of a place, Gloria’s genuine curiosity for creation shines through as she recreates dishes from a memory of a meal, then adding her own twist. For Gloria, it’s the simplicity of ingredients and the robust flavour of Mexican food that provides the most delight and inspiration for her repertoire of food memories. “It's a combination of spices, the combination of flavours, the presence of citrus, the use of herbs. I also really like how, in a way, Mexican food is so close to the African food I am used to. I was mind blown with the creativity with such simple ingredients, to make those crazy, rich, tasty, and sometimes unbelievable dishes.”

“I’m also here to learn - I can't wait to be able to talk with the local farmers, local producers, and discuss; just talk about what we love.”

Trying, tasting, learning; every meal is as much an education as an experiment, as the food moments she encounters then imprint into her cavalry of cross-cultural dishes and menus she has since become known for. A corn tamale hailing from Cameroon - brought to Africa by way of Mexican origins -  is now one of her signatures; and a true representation of how food and cultures merge to form new and inspiring tastes. It’s this exploration of a place that is a vital step in her process of reimagining food. “When I travel, I’m looking for the most authentic restaurant. I want to eat the way they eat, I want to understand what makes the cuisine part of the culture. I’m being curious like I've always been; I want to know what's going on in their kitchen.” In this regard, Gloria is leading the path forward for new plant-based replacements whilst keeping the essence and soul of the traditional recipe. When asked about what she is most looking forward to when landing on our coastal slice of Guerrero, Gloria replies,“I’m super excited about working with the local product, because Mexico is also one of the richest countries in terms of the diversity in some of the ingredients I love to use. I love all the different types of beans, I'm excited to be able to work with nopal, and some different vegetables, and some of the local herbs. It’s more about being able to see what's happening with the local and most simple ingredients. I’m also here to learn - I can't wait to be able to talk with the local farmers, local producers, and discuss; just talk about what we love.”

Whether herbivore or carnivore, the environment plays an essential role in any chef’s culinary universe. At MUSA, our wild, open landscape is the kind of creative energy that consistently informs all creative and operational decisions. Our landscape, and our environment is the single most guiding ethos for which we build our models of hospitality, community, and futures in design. This also rings true for Gloria, who draws from a diverse range of global and geographical influence, whilst keeping her food practice rooted in a sense of place and intimacy with locality. “The environment has a lot of impact on me. Right now I'm in the middle of the jungle and there's so much food around me, I can't stop thinking. I see fruit, vegetables, and trees, there’s no distractions. I can feel the difference when I’m in a place like this and when I’m in the city. Working in Paris and big cities like New York, it's amazing too but it's not the same relationship or experience that I have when I’m in nature. I depend on the supermarket, I depend on the suppliers. But when you are directly connected to the trees, or the land, or the farmers, you go with what you have, the connection is direct, and I find more inspiration there than anywhere else.”

“Music might be the most connected aspect of culture and my cuisine.”

Making for a meaningful and transportative series of foodscapes that will be created during her upcoming residency in our exceptional open air kitchen and dining room at Hotelito’s restaurant, Alba, MUSA’s open skies and endless ocean, married with the region’s abundant farm grown produce, sets an unbeatable stage for a month of world class cuisine at the intersection of technique, flavour, style, and heritage. And whilst the local landscape will remain the peak of the Chef’s inspiration while on property, four weeks of programming combining the best in food and wine, with wellness, art, music, and movement, to forge a collaboration that is truly a celebration of global perspectives in our unique context of the Pacific coast, Guerrero, and Mexico at large. In discussing potential artists and collaborators when developing the upcoming residency’s  calendar of events, Gloria lends suggestions from her personal networks in selecting and curating potential partners to build completely immersive experiences for each night of dining.

In considering all elements of culture and how they add to her community, Gloria mentions, “music might be the most connected aspect of culture and my cuisine.” Call it soul. For Gloria, it's the integration of two foundational musical theories that guide her talented touch in her cuisine journey. “Music has a big impact on what I do. I think about rhythm and harmony as that's the same thing I’m looking for while I’m cooking. Harmony in the sense that the experience can be progressively sensational. Rhythm because we should pay more attention to the rhythm in which we eat. In life we are used to eating so fast, but in those moments we should sit and take the time to enjoy what’s going on. It’s something really amazing - feeding your body, prioritising, and practising appreciation.”

Gloria Kabe will be at MUSA as our premiere Chef in Residence throughout the month of October. Book a stay now and taste her exclusive creations inspired by the property and our immense diversity of local ingredients from around the region.

We are now accepting a waitlist for our calendar of events curated in collaboration with Gloria Kabe and MUSA.

Read more at the link below and reserve your place.

Words by Tegan Noël

Imagery by Njeri Njuguna, Thomas Fliche, and courtesy of Gloria Kabe