Gabriela Gonzalez is one fifth of the team who created Cooking the Continent. After discovering her passion for food working in kitchens in Melbourne, Australia, Gabi set off to travel her home continent of South America to share local stories of food, passion and life.
You have spent a lot of time outside of your home country of Chile, what is your favourite thing about traveling?
I love the experience of both, traveling and living overseas. They are very different but similar in the surprises that you can find every single day: watching how people behave in different environments, how they think, speak, work, move, laugh, hug, kiss. You also get to start the day somewhere that in another point of your life, you would never imagine! And of course, taste the food and new flavours that you can find around. Mostly in markets. Oh, the markets.
What was the inspiration for the Cooking project?
Cooking the Continent was born as a common feeling from different points of view. We all wanted to travel and experience places more than just going there and explore the touristic places. We wanted to discover but also use our skills to create a project that could take us to the not-so-touristic places, that we could share with others and expand it in the long run. In late 2011, I was living in Melbourne and finishing a one-year certificate in photography. I was also working in kitchens, to support myself while studying. I always liked cooking very much, but this was the first time that I was doing it “professionally”. I had the chance to work with awesome chefs and hospitality managers, who not only taught me how to roll in a kitchen properly, but also valuable lessons for my personal and professional life. I also had lots of freedom inside the kitchen (so lucky!), and I experimented and starting making South American twists to the menu. That was my favourite part. Then I was thinking and maybe unconsciously searching for something where were both photography and food were involved. A friend from my hometown was living in New Zealand at that time, and one night we had a long chat catching up, and he told me about his project. He wanted to travel South America (the route that I’ve always wanted to do) with 2 friends (one chef, one bartender) and shoot a documentary on the way. That was it. I told him that I wanted to go, he thought that I was joking, or not serious about it, being that answer the answer that he got from most of the people that told the project to. That night I couldn’t sleep. The next morning I sent him a message, telling him that I was seriously serious. A few days after, I was in. A few months later, I was traveling to NZ to meet the rest of the crew. I knew inside that was the right thing to do, and I couldn’t be happier. It was like a little enlightenment and in some way, it was beyond myself. Just a huge YES in my brain.
Tell us a little about Cooking the Continent and where the project is being screened.
Well, from those days till today, we’ve been professionalising the team, skills, and learning everyday about ourselves. Cooking the Continent today is a collective, formed by 5 friends. The same 5 that we ended up going on the 8-month South American road trip to shoot a documentary about food. About the food that people eats, but also the one for the soul: family, music, traditions, friends, adventure. None of us comes from the TV or filmmaking world, and we made the whole project with our own savings. We strongly believe that the result reflects that freshness. Also being independent in all ways, gives us the freedom to release and create the content that we really want to show (from shooting to editing). The first release of many little projects about the same trip, is our documentary TV show “Cocinando Sudamerica” (the English version coming up January 2015) which has 13 episodes and is been just released and screened on a cultural cable TV station “13c” in Chile. We are currently also negotiating to screen the show in other Spanish speaking countries next year. Once the English version is ready, we will start negotiating with NZ, Australia and other countries. We want to spread the word as much as we can.
What is next for you? More travel or filming?
More traveling and more filming. I’m planning to come back to Australia next year, and probably going back to South East Asia. Will see what happens, I’m never sure until I buy the plane tickets and that’s the best bit of it! Also I will keep working on Cooking the Continent, developing the other projects that we have in mind to finish the cycle. Besides I’m putting together a couple of filming/photography projects and new dreams too.