By Margot Thomas
THEY call themselves the ''Fantastic Four" who together have brought a new golden touch to Sunday brunch and dining out in Panama.
The Fantastics are in fact four chefs from different corners of Latin America whose paths led them to Panama’s newest hotel venture, The Hotel Las Americas, Golden Tower.
While creating a fine dining reputation in the Aurun restaurant whose ambience can be described as cozy-sexy modern, The Fantastic Four decided to add some glitter to the Sunday brunch experience in the city with an ongoing series of theme events while providing one of the most eclectic and best priced buffets in the city.
The weekly theme is created at a Monday morning meeting and assignments shared for acquiring display items , staff costumes and special ingredients for the thematic dining experience.
The team is led by Executive Chef Miguel Angel da Pelo, whose path to the Golden Tower began in Peru after a confrontation with his father who threw him out for frittering away his time in university as an agronomy student.
Ejected from the family home he went to live with his grandmother who ran a small restaurant in a coastal town where his passion for cooking was born.
When the rift with his father was healed he went back to school, to study the culinary arts leading to 14 years with the Marriott Hotel chain ending as head chef in Medellin’s Country Club before being recruited for his current post.
El Salvadorean Sous Chef Diego Rodriguez followed the culinary path of his father. His career has taken him via major hptels to the Caribbean and Italy before arriving at the Golden Tower.
Marco Mesa’s, 22 year career as a pastry chef got off to a rocky start.
From delivering bread by bicycle he became a dish washer.
An early chance to work with the pastry chef lasted two days until he sliced a cake the wrong way and returned to the dishes
With his second chance, his career moved forward and upward including the Intercontinental chain and a leading Costa Rican Hotel as head Pastry Chef,
At brunch and at the restaurant during the week you will find him and his three amigos meticulously checking the quality of the products from the kitchen and the way they are displayed.
Christopher Nunez, the Panamanian member of the team, is responsible for coordinating the design projects for special events, including Sunday brunch, and for the maintenance and smooth running of kitchen equipment.
A gastronomic tour of the multiple food stations at brunch with some thoughtful added touches like a bottomless champagne glass of a fruit based " eye opener" and rows of bowls loaded with candies and scoops calculated to lead you to dining return for specialities in the restaurant during the evening giving added legitimacy to their chosen name "Fantastic ”