Latin American Food & Wine with Diego Felix

Where did you grow up? Please describe what your hometown was like.
I grew up in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, in close proximity to the forest and public parks. My hometown is a very quiet place where kids played freely on the streets and at the park. My parents own a small health foods store and my childhood spent surrounded by the aromas of spices and herbs in the store has had a strong influence in my food.

How old were you when you moved to here? What brought you here?
I moved here three years ago when I turned 40. In the decade before that, my wife Sanra and I ran Casa Felix, a supper club in Buenos Aires. In addition to hosting dinners in Argentina, we visited the US every year cooking pop-up dinners all around the East Coast and West Coast with chef friends and family.

Three years ago my wife’s sister and her husband opened a restaurant in Soquel (HOME) and we decided to move to California to help them start the business. We also wanted to be closer to family as they have two girls the same age as my two boys. One of our goals now that we’re here is to open our own Latin American Culinary Cultural center in the Bay Area.

Has it been easy to adjust to life in America?
The adjustment is still ongoing!

In some ways it was easy to adjust to an American way of life because I have been visiting the US for the last 12 years. However, the most challenging aspect about life here is finding community and connection.  This is one quality about Argentina that I miss dearly. I am a very social person and love to connect with other people and enjoy time interacting with friends. Here, people are very different and I notice that everyone is quite reserved about their lives and don’t share as much about themselves the way we do in Argentina. Perhaps it’s because of the diversity of people who live here, from so many different countries and cultures?

Something I’ve learned here is the word ‘community’. Since there is a lack of it by default, everyone has to work harder to create community. This is why I’m excited to work with Tapestry Suppers and why I am very happy to be a part of this event.

What were your first impressions of America upon arrival?
People are so concentrated on their own goals that they don’t spend the time to hang out with friends and family and enjoy each other’s company.

Tell us about Colectivo Felix, what inspired you to start this venture?
Sanra and I moved from San Francisco to Buenos Aires in 2007 to learn and investigate everything edible the South American continent had to offer. We began to share our findings with friends and adventurous eaters through dinners in our very own home. By word of mouth, Casa Felix gained popularity and introduced Latin American food culture to thousands of people from around the world.

Now that we are based out of Santa Cruz in search of a permanent base in California, we are again a roaming restaurant, a band of culinary troubadours doing private dinners, weddings, catered events and cooking classes in the Bay Area and beyond.

In Argentina, a colectivo is a public bus used by thousands of people on a daily basis who continuously hop on and off. At Colectivo Felix, we aim to embody the same concept: the friends, family, sommeliers, farmers and chefs we’ve met along our journey are like fellow passengers on the same bus who share and contribute to our ideas about delicious food and a sustainable food culture. Even patrons who attend our dinners are passengers as well, each person’s presence contributing to the unique and dynamic Colectivo Felix dining experience.

What can guests expect from the menu for this event?
I want to bring a new perspective to local ingredients so I will be creating new dishes inspired by the season. I am most excited by the prospect of creating something new and I am currently inspired by the abundance of seafood and fresh local seaweed.

With this dinner I hope to offer a snapshot of local produce in terms of farms, indigenous ingredients and seafood with a South American point of view.

Nasi Lemak & Kaya with Tracy Goh

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