It’s hard to repress culinary creativity when you’re surrounded by organic produce, cheeses, edible insects and flowers, all produced in a yearlong growing season. That’s how chef Melissa DeLeon operates in her native Panama, and the concept travels well. The Whole Foods Culinary Center, known for celebrating homegrown bounty influenced by the homes of the world, will host DeLeon at a cooking workshop September 20.
Word on the street is that Panamanian food may be the next big thing, says Culinary Center director Jamie Powell. “Chef DeLeon calls it rain-forest recipes, and it fits,” she says. “Panamanian cooks work with exotic fruits—mangoes, passion fruits, plantains—and I’ve heard we’ll be tasting the number one rated coffee in the world.”
Perhaps in the form of banana bread with ground-roasted coffee, one of chef DeLeon’s signature desserts?