“I like to do things casually, have fun, laugh a lot and get dirty in the kitchen,” says multifaceted Uruguayan baker and chef Ximena Torres. “And I love wine. My father’s father, who was Chilean, was nicknamed Tinto [Spanish for red wine], so wine is in my blood.”
The granddaughter of a Catalan pastry chef who immigrated to Uruguay in 1950, Torres, 32, is fast becoming the country’s culinary queen. Her live cooking and baking show, La Receta Perfecta (The Perfect Recipe), runs Monday through Friday on one of Uruguay’s major TV channels, Teledoce.
When not joking around on set with guests who range from soccer stars to visiting winemakers, Torres owns and operates one of Montevideo’s top bakeries and specialty food stores, La Dulcería de Ximena Torres. The shop also sells some of her preferred wine brands—Bouza and Narbona from Uruguay, Montes from Chile and Mendel from Argentina, among others.
“It’s not a wine shop, per se, but I do sell some of my favorites,” says Torres, who studied the art of making chocolate in Barcelona under dessert legends Albert Adrià and Ramon Morató. “And we teach wine appreciation and pairings classes out of the store.
“I’m an anarchist in terms of wine and food,” she says. “I like Pinot Noir with sushi. And I don’t believe that wine and chocolate are enemies. I love Malbec with my basil-infused chocolate bonbons. The thing I’m working on now is wine-flavored macarons.”
Torres attended high school in San Antonio, Texas, and accepted a Fulbright scholarship to study fine arts and mass media at Valdosta State in Georgia. She maintains a taste for American wine acquired while touring California during her college years.
“We went to Carmel and San Francisco, and I will never forget eating crab cakes with local Chardonnay,” she says with her trademark deep laugh. “What an amazing pairing.”