Chef Pablo Díaz, a Guatemalan native and the creator of Mercado 24 and Dora La Tostadora, delights us with the story of his beginnings in the culinary world and how his mother and grandmother contributed to his passion for gastronomy. From a very young age, he showed an interest, saying, “He always knew he wanted to be a chef.” He recalls his childhood as an important stage in his life, saying, “I remember being gifted a children’s recipe book, one of those that had recipes without fire, and I made an apple drink. It had mineral water, lemon, and apple.”
Chef Pablo Díaz
Finally, after graduating from his first degree, he formally studied gastronomy at the Technical Institute of Training (Intecap). During his internship at the Intercontinental hotel, his vocation was further intensified. Although the program required three months of practice, he stayed for eight months, fascinated by this exquisite world. Some time after completing his degree, Chef Eduardo González invited him to join his kitchen, and he worked there for a year and a half. With Chef González’s help, he secured a scholarship to study gastronomy at the culinary school called Ambrosía in Mérida, Yucatán.
His main mentors were Chef Guayo, who taught him the importance of Guatemalan ingredients in cooking and their great potential, and another master who left a lasting impact on his career was Chef Benito at the Mexican restaurant Manzanilla.
He emphasizes that a chef is an artist who experiments, tastes, and creates. We can see these explosions of flavors in Mercado 24 and Dora La Tostadora, where he surprises us with exquisite creations, a Guatemalan cuisine in the style of Pablo Díaz.
A Culinary Journey: The Story Behind “Mercado 24” and “Dora La Tostadora”
My return to Guatemala in 2014 marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. After a brief period of working for others, I decided to forge my own path in the world of cuisine. My goal was clear: to create a place where I could express my personal vision of gastronomy, where food was not just an act of sustenance but an experience that engaged all the senses.
That’s when “Mercado 24” was born, a restaurant that has been my passion for the last six years. Here, I dedicated myself to what I consider market cuisine, a product-based cuisine. Every day, I start my journey by going to the market, carefully selecting each ingredient one by one. This direct connection with food allowed me to establish relationships with suppliers, farmers, and, most importantly, immerse myself in our culinary culture. Understanding who we are, where we come from, and where we are heading became a fundamental part of my culinary journey.
In 2016, I decided to take another step and opened “Dora La Tostadora.” Here, the toast became the star of our dishes. We saw it as a blank canvas on which we could unleash our culinary creativity, and the best part was that it was entirely edible.
Throughout this journey, we have had the honor of receiving significant recognition. In 2017, both “Mercado 24” and I were awarded the best restaurant of the year. In addition, prominent media outlets such as The New York Times, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit have featured us in several articles, recognizing the uniqueness of our offering.
With “Dora La Tostadora,” we took another significant leap in 2018, being named one of the 20 best new restaurants across the continent by New Worlder.
At the heart of all this effort lies a deep appreciation for food, its production chain, and, above all, human value. Our mission goes beyond just food; we seek to enrich lives and strengthen bonds through the culinary experience. Every day, we continue our journey in search of new flavors, textures, and experiences, with the conviction that cooking is an art that connects us to our identity and leads us towards a future filled with flavor and creativity.