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50 Best Restaurants in Latin America

11 Oct

The list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2019 was revealed on 10 October 2019 at the seventh annual Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, that was held at Usina del Arte in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With seven new restaurants and entries across eight countries, the 2019 list reflects the diversity of the ever-evolving Latin American gastronomic scene.

Maido in Lima took the No.1 spot for the third consecutive year, retaining its status as The Best Restaurant in Latin America. Maido, or ‘welcome’ in Japanese, is the flagship restaurant of chef Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura, serving inventive tasting menus of Peruvian-Japanese bites such as fish hotdog and sea urchin rice, alongside à la carte options and a classic sushi counter.

Three-time former winner Central is at No.2. Pujol, in Mexico City, is ranked at No.3, followed by Don Julio in Buenos Aires at No.4 and Boragó in Santiago at No.5 – receiving the titles of The Best Restaurant in Mexico, Argentina and Chile, respectively.

Mexico and Peru lead the 2019 list with 11 entries each, including Alcalde for Mexico, winner of the Highest Climber Award, and Central for Peru, recipient of the Sustainable Restaurant Award. Brazil claims nine spots – including new entries Evvai and Manu – followed by Argentina with eight entries and Chile with six.

This year, Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants features seven new entries: Kjolle, Pía León’s rising restaurant based in Lima, receives the Highest New Entry Award, occupying the No.21 spot on the list. De Patio in Santiago, Chile enters the list at No.34; Mil in Cusco, Peru sits at No.36; La Docena in Mexico City’s Polanco district occupies No.38; while Manu in Curitiba, Brazil enters the list at No.42. The seventh new entry is Mayta from Lima, Peru at No.49.

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019:

1 Maido (Lima, Peru) *The Best Restaurant in Latin
America/The Best Restaurant in Peru
26 La Mar (Lima, Peru)
2 Central (Lima, Peru) *Sustainable Restaurant Award 27 Rosetta (Mexico City, Mexico)
3 Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico) *The Best Restaurant in Mexico 28 Máximo Bistrot (Mexico City, Mexico)
4 Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina) *The Best Restaurant in
Argentina
29 Chila (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
5 Boragó (Santiago, Chile) *The Best Restaurant in Chile 30 Ambrosía (Santiago, Chile)
6 A Casa do Porco (São Paulo, Brazil) *The Best Restaurant in
Brazil
31 Nicos (Mexico City, Mexico)
7 El Chato (Bogotá, Colombia) *The Best Restaurant in
Colombia
32 Le Chique (Cancun, Mexico)
8 Leo (Bogotá, Colombia) 33 Parador La Huella (José Ignacio, Uruguay) *The Best Restaurant in
Uruguay
9 Osso (Lima, Peru) 34 De Patio (Santiago, Chile) *New Entry
10 D.O.M. (São Paulo, Brazil) 35 Olympe (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
11 Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico) 36 Mil (Cusco, Peru) *New Entry
12 Isolina (Lima, Peru) 37 Restaurante 040 (Santiago, Chile)
13 Astrid y Gastón (Lima, Peru) 38 La Docena (Polanco, Mexico City, Mexico) *New Entry
14 Alcalde (Guadalajara, Mexico) *Highest Climber 39 El Baqueano (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
15 Pangea (Monterrey, Mexico) 40 Evvai (São Paulo, Brazil) *New Entry
16 Sud 777 (Mexico City, Mexico) 41 La Docena (Guadalajara, Mexico)
17 Maito (Panama City, Panama) *The Best Restaurant in
Panama
42 Manu (Curitiba, Brazil) *New Entry
18 Maní (São Paulo, Brazil) 43 Mocotó (São Paulo, Brazil)
19 Rafael (Lima, Peru) 44 Osaka (Santiago, Chile)
20 Mishiguene (Buenos Aires, Argentina) 45 Elena (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
21 Kjolle (Lima, Peru) *Highest New Entry 46 Gran Dabbang (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
22 Harry Sasson (Bogotá, Colombia) 47 99 (Santiago, Chile)
23 Oteque (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) 48 Malabar (Lima, Peru)
24 Lasai (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) *Art of Hospitality Award 49 Mayta (Lima, Peru) *New Entry
25 Tegui (Buenos Aires, Argentina) 50 Narda Comedor (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

 

TV Globo expands studio complex in Rio

9 Aug

Brazil’s largest media group, Grupo Globo, has inaugurated three new studios and an expanded backlot to make Estúdios Globo in Jacarepagua in Rio de Janeiro the largest TV production centre in Latin America.

Between them the three new wireless studios cover an area equivalent to four football pitches. In total the complex now has thirteen studios, including two for shows involving an audience.

The first production to use the new facility in October will be the TV Globo novela “Amor de Mãe”, written by Manuela Dias and directed by José Luiz Villamarim.

Chris Pickard elected chair of the Anglo-Brazilian Society

6 Aug

Critical Divide’s, Chris Pickard, has been invited and elected to chair the Anglo-Brazilian Society.

The Society was established in London back in 1943 to help to promote close and friendly relations between Brazil and Britain and to increase Britain’s knowledge of Brazil and its culture. The Society, which is based in the Embassy of Brazil in London, is a registered UK charity that is passionately committed to raising funds for worthwhile Brazilian projects, especially those that address the needs of underprivileged children and their families.

Chris also currently chairs the LATA Foundation, but will stand down at the AGM in September after ten years as a founding trustee and two as chair.

You can read more about and follow the activities of the Anglo-Brazilian Society on its website, Facebook or on Twitter @anglobrazsoc

Mangueira is 2019 Champion of Rio’s Carnival

7 Mar

Estação Primeira de Mangueira is the champion of Rio’s top samba schools for the 20th time in its illustrious history after scoring a perfect total of 270 in 2019. Second, with 269.7 points, was Viraduro which has only just returned to the elite competition.

The results of Rio’s Carnival Parade in 2019 were:

  • Mangueira (270 points out of 270)
  • Viraduro (269.7)
  • Vila Isabel (269.4)
  • Salgueiro (269.3)
  • Portela (269.3)
  • Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (269.0)
  • Unidos da Tijuca (268.8)
  • Paraíso do Tuiuti (268.5)
  • Grande Rio (267.9)
  • União da Ilha (267.7)
  • Beija-Flor (267.6)
  • São Clemente (267.4)
  • Imperatriz Leopoldinense (266,6)
  • Imperio Serrano (263.8)

You can read and learn more about Rio’s carnival on Critical Divide’s Rio: The Guide.

Photos courtesy of RioTur – the city of Rio Tourist Authority.

LATA Foundation Projects for 2019

14 Feb

The LATA Foundation has confirmed its 2019 charity initiatives focusing on conservation, poverty relief, education and community development. A selection of at least ten core projects will be supported throughout the year as well as one-off contributions to other essential causes.

Last year the Foundation supported projects in ten Latin American countries thanks largely to its key sponsors including Las Iguanas, Journey Latin America, Jacada Travel, Imagine Travel, Sunvil, British Airways, Belize Tourism Board and Last Frontiers(among others). LATAF also raised funds for emergency appeals such as providing nebulisers to those in need following the volcanic eruption in Guatemala.

At the start of 2019, the LATA Foundation will be supporting nine core projects with further projects planned for the rest of the year, as well as providing support for one-off causes.

Core projects for 2019 include:

Abriendo Mentes: Meaning ‘opening minds’ in Spanish, Abriendo Mentes is a small community-based project which aims to empower individuals from two rural coastal communities in Costa Rica. The charity provides innovative and engaging education programmes and activities including English and computer lessons, Zumba classes and lacrosse. These skills are critical in obtaining employment, particularly in the local tourism industry, which dominates the local job market.

Azuero Earth: Founded by ecologist Ruth Metzel, Azuero Earth Project is a conservation initiative based in the Azuero Peninsula, Panama. Dedicated to reforestation, habitat restoration, sustainable land management, and environmental education, the project aims to ensure the future of the Azuero environment, wildlife species, and local communities in this area that is fast becoming one of Panama’s tourist hot spots.

Buena Vida: The Buena Vida Foundation is an Argentine NGO that supports rural local communities to develop sustainable tourism initiatives and help generate local employment. Buena Vida nurtures and supports local cultures to hep preserve traditional forms of craftsmanship and attract revenue through community-based tourism initiatives.

Calicanto: Based in Panama City, Calicanto provides support to vulnerable women living in poor urban communities. Calicanto’s flagship programme is a seven-week course which provides essentials skills and training to help women-in-need. The final two weeks of the course consist of vocational training aimed at getting these women ready for work in either the hotel or restaurant industries. In 2018, Calicanto set up its own restaurant in collaboration with well-known Panamanian chef Mario Castrellón. The restaurant, called La Sexta, is staffed by participants of the CAPTA programme and all proceeds go back into funding the project.

Condor Trust: Based in Quito, Ecuador, the Condor Trust is an educational initiative enabling young Ecuadorians from low income families to attend secondary school and/ or have access to higher education. The ultimate aim is to support children and teenagers so that they can complete their education, find a job and break the cycle of poverty. The LATA Foundation provides funds for the provision of uniforms, books and school materials. Now some of the first students taken on during the early years of the project have graduated from university and flourish in professional jobs, demonstrating how successful the whole cycle of support can be.

Friends of Alalay: Friends of Alalay directly supports the Alalay Foundation, which was started in the early 1990’s by a 19-year-old Bolivian student who passed street children every day on her way to university and was determined to do something to help. Alalay rescues these children from the streets and offers them a loving environment living together in family cabins. Alalay also feeds, clothes and educates the children and encourages them in their future working lives. Since it started, the Alalay Foundation has helped over 10,000 children and adolescents and works with over 1,000 children annually, in the cities of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT): The LATA Foundation, works with the GCT to reduce the damaging effects of plastics in the Galapagos Islands.  With over 20 years of experience working with communities and local organisations, GCT are teaming up with Grupo Eco Cultural Organizado (GECO) to deliver a youth-led campaign to reduce plastic bag use on San Cristobal island by 50%. The project is based on a holistic approach to tackle this issue by raising awareness in the local community, working closely with local businesses and utilising the LATA connection to communicate with the tourism industry and tourists so we can all play our part in being Plastic Responsible.

Picaflor: Picalor House is an educational charity working in the small town of Oropesa and other villages in the surrounding rural area 25km outside of Cusco, Peru, to provide after-school support to students and families. Picaflor also supports the local community through hygiene programmes, taps for teeth washing and stoves for local families, having a far-reaching positive impact on the wider community.

Vidancar: Vidarte Space has several projects to help underprivileged children from the favelas of Rio de Janerio. Their main project, the Vidancar Dance School, is located in the Complexo do Alemao favela. It began in 2009 as an initiative to offer children from the favelas the opportunity to express themselves through the art of ballet. In recent years students have gone on to study and perform at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, the ballet of Rio’s Municipal Theatre and the Conservatorio Brasileiro de Dança. Around 180 children benefit from this project on a daily basis.


The LATA Foundation is a 100% volunteer-run organisation and all proceeds raised are invested directly into its charitable projects. The LATA Foundation is proud to work with a strong network of volunteers, largely from the travel sector. In 2018, the Foundation increased the number of trustees to 12, from just eight in 2018. It is hoped that that the increased number will bring new skills and contacts to the group to help drive forward the fundraising efforts.

Learn more about the LATA Foundation at: www.latafoundation.org

The Division (A Divisão): A film by Vicente Amorim

11 Feb

One of the most highly anticipated Brazilian films of 2019, Vicente Amorim’s The Division (A Divisão), has been introduced to international buyers during the 2019 Berlin Film Festival.

Based and inspired by disturbing and shocking events that took place during the 1990s in Rio de Janeiro, The Division (A Divisão) is a dark, modern, violent, action-crime-thriller from the acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker, Vicente Amorim, and producer José Junior, Rio’s leading expert on urban violence and head of the NGO (and now production company) AfroReggae Audiovisual. The Division will receive a wide mid-2019 theatrical release in Brazil through Downtown Filmes and Paris Filmes, the companies behind the largest and most successful box-office releases in Brazil in recent years, and is being handled internationally by WTFilms that has introduced the film to the international buyers and distributors at the EFM during the Berlin Film Festival.

“The film is really about redemption, their redemption,” says Amorim, “ and what it is that sets our protagonists apart from the people around them. Although set in the 1990s, The Division is the genesis of what we are living through in Brazil today, with a President who defined his election campaign around violence. It is this need to move forward ­– regardless of the consequences and without measuring the risks – that represents a portrait of modern Brazil. The film reveals the inside of a machine that may start turning again at any moment.”

In the late 1990s, kidnapping became the crime of choice in Rio de Janeiro, with ten or more high profile cases each month. The population, at least those with money, were scared, and the authorities appeared paralysed as large ransoms were paid and some of the kidnapped were held for months or never returned. As corrupt police and officials looked the other way, justice was neither done or seen to be done, as the machine, and those linked to it, were funded by the money being generated from the kidnappings.

To stop the rot, and as a last resort, two police officers – one an incorruptible killing machine with over 100 kills to his name (played by Silvio Guindane); the other a dirty cop known for extorting money from the criminals (Erom Cordeiro) – were brought together and put in charge of Rio’s Anti-Kidnapping Division by the city’s Secretary for Public Safety & Security, a hard line general from the days of the military dictatorship, and his head of police, a socialist lawyer. The Division is their story and how by using very good intelligence and some questionable methods to solve the kidnappings, the two policemen come close to victory as the ends do seem to justify their means. But can too much intelligence be a dangerous thing? The film is based on the real events and the real people.

Amorim’s previous films have screened at, among others, the Toronto, Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary, Montreal, San Sebastian and Rio de Janeiro film festivals. They include the thriller Motorrad, selected for Toronto in 2017; the Brazil-Japanese co-production Dirty Hearts (Corações Sujos); the ethical thriller Good, with Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen, a film considered one of the ten best movies of 2008 by The Hollywood Reporter and Rex Reed (The New York Observer); and The Middle of the World (O Caminho das Nuvens) with Wagner Moura; as well as five successful television series.

Despite his work with Brazilian TV, Amorim has deliberately chosen not to cast well-known Brazilian television actors in The Division, as he wants the characters to be credible and real.

Working with the screenwriting team, and as a consultant on the film, is José Luiz Magalhães, a Rio police officer for over 30 years who led the actual team that ended the kidnapping wave in Rio de Janeiro. In The Division, his first work as a screenwriter, he tells his own story, and helps add essential context and the truth of what happened and who was involved.

“He is a brave man,” says Amorim. “As are all the people involved in this project. We have had to change names to keep people alive.”

Amorim was also helped on The Division by José Junior, Creative Director and CEO of AfroReggae Audiovisual (the film’s production company), who has created and produced several television series for channels in Brazil such as Multishow and GNT, including Urban Connections (Conexões Urbanas). He was also the producer of the multi-award winning documentary Favela Rising. The Division is AfroReggae Audiovisual’s first feature, and in Brazil it will also be expanded into a multi-part TV series for Globosat.

“José gave us the access to people and places, and opened doors to locations where the real action took place,” adds Amorim. “He also made sure that the weaponry and other details used in the film are correct.”

Junior has mediated in a number of armed conflicts in Rio in a search for peace, and he is considered a pioneer for his work in helping free people in the favelas from a life of drugs and trafficking while helping to re-socialize them. His extraordinarily brave work at AfroReggae has been recognised internationally.

The film reunites Amorim and WTFilms, the Paris based sales company successfully sold the director’s Motorrad.  “Vicente’s style is immediately recognizable. He has a strong visual signature and the grittiness that buyers expect on Brazilian genre and action films,” explain WTFilms executives Dimitri Stephanides and Gregory Chambet.

Other partners in The Division include the co-producers Hungry Man, an international production company with offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and one of the world’s top production companies for commercials. Its short film Asad, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013, and the company was nominated for an International Emmy this year for its five-part Words In Series (Palavras Em Série).

Co-producers include the successful Brazilian companies TV Globo, GloboFilmes, Globosat, GloboPlay, and the film’s Brazilian distributors, Downtown Filmes and Paris Filmes.

 

Brazil’s Film Industry Optimistic for 2019

9 Dec

Critical Divide learnt that panellists at Festival do Rio’s RioMarket  were unanimously optimistic for 2019 after what all agreed had been a difficult year in 2018 for distribution, exhibition and getting “bums on seats”.

Factors contributing to what is expected as being a disappointing year for ticket sales and revenues for theatrical releases included the World Cup, the Presidential Elections, and a truckers strike that almost brought Brazil to a halt for two weeks. Panellists also mentioned a disappointing line up of both domestic and international titles that failed to find or excite an audience in Brazil.

For nearly a decade Brazil had seen growth for theatrical releases. It had to stop at some point, so after eight consecutive years of increased ticket sales and revenues in Brazil, 2017 became the year of no growth, but the numbers were still very strong. As panellist Patricia Kamitsuji of Fox-Warner noted, head offices in the US were not complaining about the results they were seeing from Brazil.

Cinema admissions in Brazil had gone from 89.1 million in 2008 to 112.7m in 2009; 134.9m in 2010; 141.7m in 2011; 148.9m in 2012, the year Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup; 151.2m in 2013; 157.2m in 2014; 170.7 million in 2015, to the record breaking 185 million in 2016, the year of the Rio Olympics. In 2017, no record, but still the very respectable sales of 183 million tickets were achieved, a drop of just 1.5%, compared with 2016, but still the second best year on record.

The decline, for the reasons already mentioned, is likely to be more marked in 2018 with only 127 million tickets having been sold up until the end of September, but the market is already showing signs of recovery in October and early November. Kamitsuji mentioned both “A Star is Born”, which has sold over one million admissions in four weeks, and “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which sold 500,000 tickets over its first weekend and has since passed one million admissions and grossed close to US$12 million.

Panellists noticed that what was more encouraging is that these two films did not fill the normal blockbuster form of an established franchise or action character. All panellists, however, noted that both for international and domestic Brazilian releases, it was the top ten releases that did really well, with the other 400 titles struggling and offering room for improvement.

The average occupancy rates of the 3,316 screens in Brazil, the majority in multiplexes, has been around 19%, and this is likely to have fallen to 18 or 17 percent in 2018. But capacity is a problem whenever a major blockbuster is released. The expansion of screens in Brazil, now back to the levels of 1975, has also slowed in 2018 and this was put down to the current economic climate in Brazil that saw a slowing in the expansion of shopping centres where new screens would be located. Shopping Centre screens are also the most successful in Brazil in terms of revenues and tickets sales.

2016 was also a record year for Brazilian productions with 30.1 million tickets sold during the year, grossing some R$354.8 million, or approximately US$112 million. Seven Brazilian films sold over one million tickets in 2016, with 15 productions selling between 100,000 and a million tickets.

In 2017 Brazilian films sold just 18.5 million tickets, a fall of 38.5%, grossing R$253 million, or approximately US$79 million, from the release of 154 domestic productions. Only four Brazilian films sold over one million tickets in 2017 lead by Cesar Rodrigues’ “Minha Mãe É Uma Peça 2” (My Mom Is A Character 2), starring TV and theatre comedian Paulo Gustavo, which grossed R$89.2 million (US$27.8m) in 2017, which when added to its year end revenue from 2016 saw the film’s total rises to R$124.2m (US$38.8m). Other Brazilian films to pass the one million admission mark in 2017 were “Polícia Federal – A Lei É Para Todos” (1.38 million), “Os Parças” (1.3 million) and “DPA – Detetives do Prédio Azul” (1.2 million). Brazilian films had a market share of 16.4% of admissions and 18.9% of revenues.

2018 is looking better for Brazilian films at the box office with a 37.7% increase in sales up to the end of September, a period in which tickets to international releases fell 14.1%. Rio de Janeiro remains the state with the highest market share for domestic Brazilian releases.

Overall the top grossing film of the year in Brazil in 2017 was “Fast & Furious 8: The Fate of the Furious” that grossed US$41.7m from tickets sales of 8.5 million. The rest of the top ten was made up of “Justice League” (US$41m / 8.4m); “Beauty and the Beast” (US$40.6m / 8.3m); “Despicable Me 3”  (US$39.3m / 8.89m, the highest ticket sales of the year); “Wonder Woma” (US$ 34.2m / 7m); “Spider-Man: Homecoming” ($32m /6.7m); “Thor: Ragnarok” (US$31.2m / 6.4m) “Logan” (US$28.5m / 6.4m); “Minha Mãe É Uma Peça 2” (US$27.8m / 6.5m in 2017 and 9.3m in total) and The “Shack” (US$22.4m / 5.1m).

So far in 2018 the ten top grossing film through 2 December are “Avengers: Infinity War”, that has grossed US$66.7m; “Incredibles 2” (US$37.6m); “Black Panther” (US$37m); Brazil’s “Nada a Perder” (Nothing To Lose – US$33m); “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (US$24m); “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (US$21.3); “The Nun” (US$20.5); “Fifty Shades Freed” (US$19.7m); Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” (US$19.5); and “Venom” (US$19.0).”

The Brazilian comedy “Os Farofeiros”, by Roberto Santucci, is 17th in the year’s overall box office having grossed approximately US$9.8m and sold 2.6 million tickets.

Optimism for 2019 comes from an extremely strong expected slate of releases, both international and domestic, that have a proven track record of getting the fans in Brazil through the door and in to the seats. Panellists also saw a boost of national optimism when the new Brazilian President takes power at the start of January, a “feel good” factor that should last at least six months. There is also no World Cup or Olympic distractions in 2019, although Brazil will host the Copa America from 14 June to 7 July.

Among RioMarket’s optimistic panellists, spread across two panels, were Marcos Oliveira of Universal Pictures Brasil, Patricia Kamitsuji of Fox-Warner, Paulo Pereira of Cinépolis, Marcelo Bertini of Cinemark, Bruno Wainer of Downtown Filmes, Silvia Cruz of Vitrine Filmes, Luiz Severiano Ribeiro Neto of Kinoplex, Edson Pimental of Globo Filmes, Leonardo Eddie of Urca Filmes, and Luana Rufino of ANCINE. The moderators were Caio Silva of ABRAPLEX and Mariza Leão of Morena Filmes.