The son of Diana Tchira Manopla (Barranquilla) and Nessim Sasson, Harry Sasson is perhaps Colombia’s most famous cook. He currently runs, among other places, the eponymous Harry Sasson restaurant, ranked 23 on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Sasson, who was born in 1969, showed an interest in the culinary arts even as a youngster. When he was just a teenager, he began climbing the rungs of the world of haute cuisine, from vegetable cook to butcher’s assistant and entremetier, to become one of the most outstanding chefs in Colombia. After studying at SENA, Colombia’s national tech school, he went on to gain experience in hotel restaurants. Next, he travelled to Vancouver, working at Joe Fortes (a famous fish and seafood restaurant) where he was a disciple of the renowned chef Ken Iaci.
On returning to Colombia in 1995, at the age of 25, he founded H. Sasson Wok & Satay Bar, and one of the most remarkable phenomena of Colombian gastronomy took root. The Wok & Satay Bar is a restaurant that became a benchmark in Bogotá thanks to its different ambiences and a well-stocked drinks cellar where Harry has a single table that is reserved for ten diners. He went on to complement his initial eatery with others, such as H&B, Balzac, Harry’s Bar, and Club Colombia, which are among the most successful in the country. A couple of years ago he opened Harry Sasson – his flagship restaurant – setting the bar for Latin American haute cuisine. His menu highlights local ingredients and indigenous produce, and his dishes are always prepared using the latest techniques and absolute respect for traditions and the environment. The final result is originality with denomination of origin.
In addition, this chef has published books of his best recipes, and is a columnist for several newspapers and magazines in Colombia. One of his latest projects involves using indigenous crops, grown where coca plants once flourished, and given the name Peace Crops. ‘It’s how we’re doing our bit for peace in this country, and it’s a way of offering local farmers a future.’
A great promoter of Colombia’s food and agriculture, Sasson asserts that the country’s gastronomy ‘is as diverse as its geography, and this is something that must be valued.’ And, all the while, the chef continues to use two ingredients he is obsessed with: olive oil and sea salt.