Siete: Nurturing the Body and Soul
By: Evan Upchurch
To eat well is to nurture the body and soul. Food is medicine, not only for the nutrients it provides us but also for the gathering and joy it encourages. At Habitas, we believe that heart and health-centered eating is a way of supporting local communities, taking care of our planet, and providing people with a source of self-healing.
From the lush jungle filled with a rich biodiversity to the crystalline waters of the lagoon, our newest home in Bacalar exudes an energy of abundance. It is a place where things can grow, flourish, and transform if given the opportunity. That is why at Habitas Bacalar, we wanted to center our menu on the local products available in the area, with the intention of propelling our brand and the community forward. We spoke with Habitas’s Executive Chef Horacio Dardano about the concept of Siete, Habitas Bacalar’s restaurant, and our collaboration with local suppliers.
“Our cuisine mixes the best of rustic and refined dishes.”
Unlike Tulum or Cancun, Bacalar is a destination that has remained quiet and understated throughout the years, and the town’s culinary scene has reflected those very same characteristics. With the recent arrival of Habitas, Siete is positioned to be a restaurant unlike any other in Bacalar but has no intention of breaking with the overall laid-back, natural feeling that makes the area extraordinarily special. Chef Horacio says, “Our way of cooking and approaching gastronomy is different than other places in the area. At Siete, we have a cuisine that mixes the best of rustic and refined dishes.”
From its conception, the dishes at Siete were created with healthy living in mind. Chef Horacio points out, “Our home in Bacalar is particularly focused on wellness, and we wanted our gastronomic offer to reflect that too. That’s why we’ve based our menu on fresh, local, and seasonal products that we can find in the area.” Indeed, nearly half of Siete’s menu is fit for vegans and over 70% is vegetarian, strongly conveying the power of a well-rounded plant-based diet and only promoting organic, local meats, seafood, and fish.
As Habitas has seen over time, the key to finding the best high-quality products lies in the relationships forged within the community. To date, Chef Horacio and his team have established connections with a select number of local farms and suppliers that will provide everything from organic free-range chicken and eggs to a portion of the hotel’s seasonal fruit and vegetables. Chef Horacio explains, “For example, when it comes to fruits and vegetables from local farms, instead of just buying what’s available, we work directly with the farmers to choose what we want to plant and then program the quantity of produce we will need for the dishes. As the success of Habitas grows, so will the demand for more local products.”
In all cultures around the world, sitting down for a meal represents a time for gathering. At Siete, healthy living is not only reflected in the quality of the ingredients but also in how the food is served. By design, Siete’s dishes can be shared and enjoyed among family and friends, allowing everyone to get a taste and create conservation around food. This same idea of sharing extends to cross-cultural learning going on in the kitchen. Chef Horacio says, “We use some Mayan techniques in our cuisine, like the salsas we make. Currently, the team is working with a local family to learn how to make traditional cooking condiments from the area, like pibil (the paste used for cochinita pibil) and recado (blends of local spices).”
Each and every day food is a central part of the physical human experience. For better or for worse, its quality can affect how we function and impact our mood. At Habitas Bacalar, we believe that eating should be an act of consciousness, one in which we take the time to nurture our relationships, our planet, and ourselves. Good health, both physical and emotional, starts with our source of fuel.
Photography by: Tanveer Badal