Chile Today’s Savoring Santiago series highlights the city’s top restaurants, cafés, and bars. Discover farm-to-fork eateries, underground resto-bars, luxury dining experiences, and hidden culinary gems. Each article offers the owner’s insight, along with their recommendations for must-try menu items.
Stepping through the revolving doors of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Santiago, guests are immediately immersed in an oasis-like experience. Friendly staff members guide clients to a seat at either Matsuri or Senso, two of the city’s most highly-rated restaurants. Diners can enjoy views of the pool, waterfall, and towering palm trees while sipping on a signature cocktail.
In 2021, the hotel was voted No. 1 hotel in Chile and No. 2 hotel in South America by Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. The accolades are well-earned; the standard of excellence, employees’ genuine warmth, and attention to detail go unmatched in Santiago.
Chile Today talked to public relations head Lorenzo Solano for the inside scoop on what makes the Mandarin Oriental Santiago tick. Solano, Chef Juan Ozaki, Executive Chef German Ghelfi, and Sous Chef Juan Emanuel Cáceres share insights of Senso and Matsuri, along with exciting plans for 2022.
Upon entering Mandarin Oriental, Santiago guests are greeted by perhaps the best service and staff available in Santiago. How do you achieve and maintain this exemplary level of customer service?
Solano: We are focused on giving a first-class service and experience, which we do by recognizing that each client is unique. We work as a team while valuing the principles of the company, which is precisely focused on creating unique and unforgettable moments.
Chef Juan Ozaki creates a gastronomic journey of flavors, tantalizing ingredients, and delectable textures. What is the inspiration behind the dishes?
Ozaki: My inspiration comes from my childhood memories; Sunday dinners with my family, outings to eat at different huariques in Lima, these [memories] connect me with the emotion of being with my loved ones and remind me of savoring the delicious dishes of yesteryear.
What also inspired me was seeing my mom, aunts, grandmother, and brothers cooking together, and how everything revolved around the kitchen. These memories together with the techniques and new flavors acquired during my career are the main reasons why I am able to transmit such a rich experience.
How do you give a new perspective to Japanese food?
Ozaki: By applying and respecting the Japanese techniques that I learned throughout my career and by using them with different flavor mixes that remind me of Peruvian food. This has allowed me to create new versions of Latin flavors done with Japanese techniques. For example how the USUZUKURI became the TIRADITOS.
Senso surprises guests with fresh, seasonal concepts. How have Executive Chef German Ghelfi and Sous Chef Juan Emanuel Cáceres’ visions impacted the restaurant?
Cáceres: After a long trajectory within the Mandarin Oriental group, with New York being the city that left the biggest mark on my career, I was able to return to Latin America, and what better place to start than with Chile. Today, [Chile] has the most culinary potential in the continent.
I enjoy being able to utilize all my experience and mix it with Chilean gastronomy, using only the best products of the region, with those coming from the sea being my favorite. I feel that I still have a lot to learn about this beautiful country, its regions, producers, supplies, and of course its culture.
It has been a great challenge to become a notable stop in Santiago with so many other great restaurants. Without a doubt, it is one of the challenges that I humbly accept every day so that we can continue improving until we can enter the ranking of the best restaurants in both gastronomy and services.
What challenges have you overcome? What was your experience during the pandemic?
Solano: We took the pandemic as an opportunity to become more active on social media, mostly by sharing easy and delicious recipes to make at home, also with interactive cooking classes taught by our culinary team which generated great engagement with our audience.
In addition, as a hotel, we prepared for our guests with our WECARE program where we gave out shoe disinfectants, placed alcohol gel dispensing totems and social distancing signs, while hand disinfectant wipes and masks were made available in order to protect the safety of our guests and clients during their visit to our hotel.
Mandarin Oriental offers delightful and carefully curated culinary events – what can we expect for 2022?
Solano: We are working to increase our culinary offering with delicious and novel presentations. We work with a strict communication plan where we dedicate each month to a different area of the hotel, wherever it is a corporate event or any other activity that might interest our local public.
One of these events is our San Valentine special. It consists of a delicious menu with wine pairings, including a memorable stay for whoever decides to enjoy the most romantic month of the year.
Do you offer private events such as wedding celebrations and graduations?
Solano: Of course, we have a sales team that offers different alternatives to celebrate any occasion, and our gardens are over 1,000m2. We offer visitors an oasis in the middle of the city with spectacular views of the gardens and terraces with a lagoon-style pool complete with a waterfall. For more information, you can write to Ileana Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Mandarin Oriental be opening its doors to any new restaurants and chefs next year?
Solano: Yes, it is being discussed at the corporate level. Soon we will be announcing new challenges and grand openings.
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Visit the restaurants and hotel: Presidente Kennedy Avenue #4601, Santiago, Chile