Mark your calendar—a marriage of Japanese and Mexican tastes is coming to the Aruba Marriott Resort & Casino on August 9th and 10th, and we mean that quite literally. Husband-and-wife duo Takahiko “Taka” Kondo and Karime Lopez are flying across the pond from Italy for a can’t-miss Master Series culinary event at Marriott’s La Vista to wow island guests and locals with an impressive five-course dinner and wine pairing.
Famed Italian chef Massimo Bottura is lending us his prized chef duo for the event. Bottura is the mastermind behind Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin star restaurant in Modena, Italy, which topped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in both 2016 and 2018. Taka is the sous chef at this highly esteemed restaurant, while Karime serves as head chef at Osteria Francescana’s sister eatery, Gucci Osteria.
Born in Tokyo, Taka explains how he came to Osteria Francescana, “In Japan, we love Italian food. I started working in an Italian restaurant with a chef who used to live in Italy, and he was always talking about his experience with Italian food, so one day, I went to Italy and fell in love with the country.” He cooked in Tuscany, Venice, and Milan before ending up in Modena. “One day I went to Osteria Francescana for lunch and was amazed by Massimo and his passion for food. I asked for a job, and it all began there.” Taka became pastry chef in 2010, then sous chef in 2015, and has contributed to some of the restaurant’s most inventive plates, such as “Oops, I dropped the lemon tart.”
With her father’s family owning restaurants in Mexico during her childhood, Karime was always familiar with the culinary world. More attracted to the world of art, however, she went to Paris to study this budding passion, only to turn back to her culinary roots after discovering French pastries and cuisine. “I saw that the culinary arts are the same as making a sculpture, but you can eat it,” she explains. After working all over the world in a string of prestigious restaurants, Karime now leads Gucci Osteria in Florence.
For the event at La Vista, Taka and Karime will be working together to present the “Author’s Cuisine,” which simply means that the chefs have the liberty of creating their own surprise cuisine for the evening. However, Taka does give a few hints regarding what diners can expect: “We can call this dinner a Mexican Kaiseki, featuring amazing ingredients from both cultures. Knowing Chef Teddy Bouroncle of the Marriott, we are sure we are going to have an excellent product to work with.” Karime adds, “We all know that Japanese and Mexican cuisine are super rich in history, diversity, and technique, so the event will be a small bite of all of these elements.” She also lets us in on a secret: “We are bringing a special beverage made with Italian cherries, which are now in season in Modena. We are collecting them this month to bring this special flavor to diners.”
Taka and Karime are both very excited to come to Aruba to cook with the Marriott team. They plan to pour their collective soul into the event, taking care of every last detail. They also plan to have fun. Taka adds, “This is no time to be stiff at the table—it’s the time to share, relax, and have fun with our guests.”
Dinner starts at 7 pm on both evenings. Eighty seats are available per night. Reserve your spot here: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/aruba-marriott-resort-amp-stellaris-casino-24260646014.