As an avid hiker and resident of Patagonia for the last three years, I thought it important and appropriate to share the following video. A great representation of the power of collaboration, the results of this teamwork revitalize an area that deserves respect…
In spirit of sharing, I am happy to announce my San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina dining guide book, Bariloche Restaurant Guide, is now free to download.
Please go to Bariloche Vacation Rental main page, and page to the bottom, click on the link to download.
One of my passions in life is helping disadvantaged children.
Included in the reasons my husband, Jamie, and I decided to move to Argentina from the United States nearly 5 years ago was to assist lower income families access the tools needed to improve their life.
Living in Bariloche we realized that an immense part of the local population does not have the proper gear or means to get into the beautiful surrounding Patagonian wilderness. So, to help other’s experience, and, hopefully, identify and appreciate the amazing natural environment, we started collaborating with our Lake Tahoe, California circle of snow-loving family. We began a program that connected the extra gear from our Tahoe tribe to people in Patagonia 7,000 miles away.
Bringing these two factions together has been such a wonderful experience. Not only has it helped shelter people from the cold, but all I have to do is think back to a coat recipient’s smile and my heart is warmed.
Well, recently our reach has broadened.
We have started working with Fundación Cruzada Patágonica, a non-profit organization with thirty years under their belt, two progressive schools that house over 150 children and the educational curriculum needed to offer those youngsters tools for a positive future.
Not long ago, we had the pleasure of lunching with the president of the organization, Diego Baudo. A friendly, welcoming persona with a big smile, it is obvious by the enthusiasm in his eyes that he loves his job.
During the meeting we mentioned our winter gear drive and that we had a large box of nice equipment waiting for him in our truck. With our offering a partnership was made; we will continue to help bring in warm clothing and the foundation will sell gear that exceeds what is needed by the children and use the money to help with the school. Excellent!
Our last sale brought in over 2,000 Argentine Pesos, which has gone to school supplies for the children. The gear that wasn’t sold was given to the kids. More smiles to keep the heart rosy, thanks to global collaboration.
From housing issues to cultural appreciation, JASecon is a collaborative movement inspiring a better tomorrow.
Originally born out of the need for good produce in a low-income housing neighborhood of Oakland, California, the San Fransisco bay Wiki is helping grassroots projects succeed. Specializing in bring people together, JASecon is, “an informal grouping of folks active in the social justice and worker co-op communities. Our goal is to facilitate communication amongst the activists developing economic alternatives in a variety of arenas.”
A member of the inspiring group, Bernard Marszalek, was kind enough to answer some questions focused on the importance of collaboration. Here’s what he had to say…
EC: What was the spark that set the people of West Oakland into activating a collaborative betterment of life and the creation of JASecon?
BM: The JASecon project developed from a discussion at a December (2007) NoBAWC meeting where the limitations of the Green Festival of 2007 was generally recognized as becoming too commercial and irrelevant for the Network to participate in. For several years some of the cooperatives (I always mean the worker co-ops in the SF area… most of which are members of the Network) tried to encourage more coop participation in the green festival for marketing and outreach (the political side) to the larger community. But participation peaked in 2005 and began to decline since then, partly because of the expense and partly because the coops where lost within the hugeness of the event and so had little impact.
The idea was thrown out at that meeting that Network should have its own festival. That idea was discussed through the beginning of 2008 and in the summer the idea of extending the invitation to the large community of non-profits and volunteer groups, etc., that contributed to the economy surfaced. The Network had discussed an outreach to folks working in other areas of the economy under other organizational forms for some time and this idea of pulling folks together to talk about collaboration on some level seemed right. A critical mass of projects was apparent but not much communication between projects was happening.
The Network already was a template for that kind of collaboration amongst the co-ops and it was a natural model for expanding the Network informally. The Network called a meeting for Oct 2008 to discuss this idea and you will find the “Call” on the JASecon wiki.
At that meeting 30 groups were represented from all areas of the emerging economy: non-profit advocacy groups, a dance collective, a local on-line journalist project, clothing designer, bakery with farm that grew the ingredients for their pies and employed kids from la raza to both work in the store and on the farm (one of my fav projects), an advocate of free-exchange, and many more, with seven co-ops represented. After four hours of getting acquainted and discussing what folks could get behind the idea of a “trade fair” got everybody excited.
The idea was to present to the public what was somewhat hidden from public view – people working on a rich diversity of projects that taken together demonstrated that “another world is possible” to use the phrase from the World Social Forums.
I think with this background you can better appreciate the content on the wiki.
EC: Where are you seeing the largest growth in collaborative movements?
BM: Latin America is way ahead of the world in terms of the Solidarity Economy. I know that the recuperated factories in Argentina have as an aim more collaboration to sustain them beyond organizational assistance to economic alliances. I mean this is the aim of all our work – to create synergies of economic relationships between alternative economic projects.
EC: What components are vital to a cooperative business idea succeeding?
BM: Besides the same components of any business succeeding: excellent plan and financing the level of agreement among the parties creating the co-op and the community support.
EC: In your opinion, what is the key factor of taking an alternative business dream, such as a cooperative, to reality?
BM: The commitment of those who have the dream. The reason I have a dim view of the whole idea of social entrepreneurship is that it is based on the illusion of one person with a great idea. Sometimes that works, but most often a sustainable project requires getting others on board… and of course one person might play an excellent role in sparking an idea, the project won’t succeed unless that person can find a crew to work with.
Charisma can charm others, but collaboration is so much more satisfying for all involved and prefigures what I like to think of as a “society of friends.” Mondragon adopts this approach. They encourage collaboration because they know that any project they support must use the talents of more than one person and will thrive if the origins are based on peer relationships, not hierarchical ones.
EC: Do you believe that collaborative business practices will eventually become the norm?
BM: What’s the alternative? Avatar? I think that the research I just wrote about that gives scientific verification to the old belief that people are naturally cooperative is one of the building blocks to a worldview that is developing. This empathetic worldview is evident in the amazing support for the people of Haiti.
EC: You wrote in response to the Conference of Parties at Copenhagen (COP-15) that, “Given the crisis we face, and the institutional inability of the oligarchy to respond in a meaningful way, as witnessed in Copenhagen, we have no choice but to create true cooperative and democratic communities to sustain us in our fight for “system change.” What can we as individuals do to help create cooperative and democratic communities?
BM: You know I think tons of people are working towards these ends but never conceptualize what they may be doing in their lives as related to the larger, global issues. I think the first step is for that realization to sink in. Specifically, and here I am speaking about the cooperative ski area business model you and your husband are activating, you are steps down the road to creating livable communities. It seems now that you are searching for both grounding in a clear way to conceive of what you want to do and for a venue… a community of peers to work with. My heartfelt appreciation of the worthiness of your intentions and my best wishes that they can be realized with others.
Thank you Bernard for sharing your knowledge and time for the good of collaboration…and your kind words in regards to the ski area cooperative movement.
In my experience, the more you show appreciation to others involved in your project of collaboration, the more success you will see. This applies to business, sport or life in general.
So, with that in mind, my husband and I recently took our vacation rental business associates out to one of the classic gourmet “foodie” restaurants that thankfully exist in our Patagonian city of Bariloche.
The appreciation dinner started out with sunset viewing and a glass of wine at our house. We then took the party across the street to one of our favorite culinary delights, Yuco.
As we walked in, it was a memorable moment seeing the looks on all three ladies faces when they entered the dining room. It was apparent by their smiles, that they knew they were in for a treat.
But in all reality, what made it special for me was getting to hang out with these three amazing women. They all have their own vibrancy that helped us decide to work with them in the first place. Getting to spend relaxed time with them outside the workplace made that inner glow shine even more.
Our somewhat-serious house cleaner, Betty, we come to find out, is a real comedian. Her joyful, bubbly energy, contagious laugh and irresistible smile had the table in hysterics at times. Mariana, our incredibly kind business assistant, had shown more of a shy side to her personality before. Tonight she was a rosy glow, a magnetic energy pushing away any resemblance to a timid girl. And our oh-so-helpful resident massage therapist, Christina, was given some “me time” where the earnest bed-side manner of a healer could be shed and her hair allowed to fall.
Our Equipo Sueño
It means so much to us that these three amazing people are in our lives…not only because of their important roles in our business. But also, and more importantly, we are friends.
And it’s another affirmative experience that positive collaboration brightens life.
While doing research for a restaurant guide that I wrote for the city of Bariloche, Argentina, I was lucky enough to get to know some of the owners of the great dining experiences around town.
One of those eateries, Butterfly, impressed me in a collaborative sense…
You see, an Irishman, German and Argentine came together to create one of the best restaurants in the Lakes District of Patagonia. Chef Ed, a Michelin-trained culinary artist is a gifted creator of designer dishes with flair. The house sommelier is the happy-go-lucky German, Sebi, whose smile and knowledge about accommodating wines are worth the trip alone. And then there is the beautiful, enchanting and welcoming host, Coni, that offers the much-needed female touch.
Chef Ed sat down with me and let us in on what it is like to have a culinary masterpiece dining experience in the northern gateway city of Patagonia, and more importantly, what it is like to have an elegant example of global collaboration. Here is what he had to say…
SM: What do you feel is the premier aspect of Butterfly?
Chef Ed: The Concept. In Butterfly we serve a 7 course tasting menu every day, prepared daily with the best ingredients the market has to offer. The evening in Butterfly is a special occasion and we never do re-sits. The table is yours for the evening. It’s for people who love food and wine like we do and we want you to feel special. If you leave a top class restaurant and they didn’t make you feel special you may as well have stayed at home and cooked a steak with a good bottle of wine.
SM: With the three different cultures coming together for Butterfly, what do you feel is the major difference between Butterfly and other fine dining restaurants in Argentina?
Chef Ed: Everything in Butterfly is done with love, it actually has nothing to with different cultures. We are three people from different cultures who all happen to be very like-minded in how we want Butterfly to be. The three of us do just about everything and we do it all with love. I cook with love, Coni prepares the restaurant, greets our guests and serves with love, Sebi chooses our wine menu, and even waters the garden with love.
SM: What would you consider to be your signature dish?
Chef Ed: I’m always asked and I never know what to say. I always think I should just lie and say “Creme Brulee with lavender ice-cream” or “Bouillabaisse au Paupillotte”, but I just can’t lie about food. I have no Signature dish, I get bored too easily to cook the same thing over and over again. Also I love to be inspired by what the market has to offer or what my regular guests ask me for, as opposed to what I want to cook.
SM: Where do you find the majority of your ingredients?
Chef Ed: With meat I am blessed in Argentina (and with lamb even more so in the Patagonia). And believe it or not I have also been blessed with great fish, 1000km from the coast! My fish is shipped fresh twice a week from Buenos Aires, they only send me what is good and most of the time I get fresher fish here than when I cooked in Ireland. Other products have been a little more complicated. Fresh vanilla beans have been shipped from Madagascar to my house in Ireland and then been smuggled halfway across the world to Bariloche. Every time friends or family visit us we have a shopping list for them. Noilly Prat, Midleton Very Rare whiskey, Italian Saffron, Sebi’s wine collection, etc.
SM: How has the involvement of three cultures helped with creating Butterfly?
Chef Ed: I think we all balance each other out very well. Sebi is German and keeps everything well organized. Coni the Argentinian keeps everything more in context and keeps us all sane. As for me the Irishman, I try to get everyone drunk regularly.
SM: What is your favorite memory from creating the restaurant?
Chef Ed: We opened the restaurant a month before Sebi arrived, as he was finishing up his job in Switzerland. Coni and I did everything on our own and we were counting the minutes to his arrival. He arrived in a Taxi in the middle of lunch service with the terrace full. After a 12 second welcome and having traveled for 40 hours he was put straight to washing dishes and helping me in the kitchen. He was even pleased with the welcome he got, he expected nothing less!
SM: Do you have any suggestions for guests planning to visit Butterfly?
Chef Ed: Skip lunch and ring ahead!
SM: Is there a particular time of year that is better than others to visit Butterfly?
Chef Ed: May and November are without a doubt the worst time to visit Butterfly as we are closed. As for the best time, I would recommend a warm summer evening, arriving early to enjoy a drink on the terrace before dinner. I never get bored of the terrace or the view we have of the lake Nahuel Huapi.
SM: What are the advantages to creating a fine dining experience in Bariloche?
Chef Ed: Bariloche has the great advantage of being incredible the whole year round. It is one of the very few places in the world with a fantastic ski area for winter and everything you could possibly imagine for summer. Mountains, lakes, snow, sun, restaurants, nightlife, rafting, trekking, climbing, etc. The list is endless. For the restaurant it gives us the chance to have two strong seasons every year. In Bariloche we have the best of both worlds!
SM: What are your favorite flavors of food to play with?
Chef Ed: There is just too much good stuff. Garlic, lemon rind, vanilla, dried tomatoes, chilli, smoked trout, hazelnuts, saffron, basil, lemongrass, sage, nutmeg, lavender, potatoes, salt, coriander seeds, coriander plant, sole, onions, eggs, sweetbreads, prawn shells, ox-tail, brie, osso bucco, baby squid… I have no idea where to start on which are my favorite. I go through phases. I dried a load of tomatoes recently so I’m on a dried tomato buzz at the moment (Dried tomatoes with confied garlic, or olives, or basil, or candied lemon rind, or all of the above). With cheese, smoked trout or in risotto with roasted almonds and fillet of sole. In a few weeks it will be something else, I’m particularly curious about the new Peruvian/Japanese fusion movement and have recently got my hands on the Nobu cookbook to see what it’s all about. So that will probably be my next buzz.
Thanks to Coni, Seb and Chef Ed for working together to create one of the best restaurants in Patagonia…if not Argentina.