Panga is a farm-to-table restaurant located in the Azuero Peninsula of Panama. Chef Andrés Morataya and his team are dedicated to the development + innovative use of local products and also, what they call ‘food restoration’ – bringing these ingredients, recipes + traditions back to life. More than ever, people are disconnected from their food and thus, their culture. Panga is their contribution to rescue what is getting lost. Panga wants to reconnect people to their food, the tools used to cook and the songs sung during a harvest.
To start with, the word ‘panga’ in Panama means a small, artisanal fishing boat traditionally used by fishermen on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. This boat is the modest backbone of the country’s fish supply. Due to the restaurant’s location, it became super obvious how dependent they are, as well as the entire country, on the labor of pangas + pangeros (he who fishes in a panga). ‘Panga’ then became a metaphor for the methods of their grandparents, methods that fed generations of people — and methods that are unfortunately disappearing because of this world’s need for convenience.
“Ecologically speaking, the Azuero peninsula would seem to be a poor location for developing a restaurant at first glance. It has been impacted by waves of slash and burn clearing for cattle grazing that has destroyed all but a few patches of the original dry forests. Populations of many native species are low, either from hunting or habitat destruction. Yet, there was more here than it might appear.”
– Nicholas Gill from the New Worlder