For some time now, the establishments for coffee and related drinks, usually milk-based, have evolved and reinvented themselves to expand the catalog of products they can offer us. Many cafés have acquired small vitrines to sell their pastries, or stepped fully into the breakfast market with offers of sandwiches, eggs, and sweeter fare.
Far from being a bad thing, this has allowed many creators in the culinary world to develop in inventive, gastronomic, and economic ways. Vlüm, a small cozy café in Colonia del Valle, has an entropic approach to cooking, which has to do with continuity and the inevitable march of time towards change, even into chaos.
“These concepts are not usually seen in the same space, that is why we merge them… The kitchen, or the culinary arts, is defined as the different forms and methods that, depending on the culture and the environment, are used for the creation, preparation and re-interpretation of food, using tools such as uses and customs, life experiences, and popular culture. On the other hand, entropy, its etymology, means evolution or transformation. […] In physics, it is the measure of the disorder of a system.”
The People Behind Vlüm
Illimani Maciel, who runs and manages Vlüm, is a Mexico City chef who, like Zack (Fat Vegan/Tacones Lejanos) or Norma and Saqib (Masala y Maíz), believes that creating a community is fundamental to making a positive change in the social environment. In order to manifest such change, Illimani centers three things at the core of the business: 1) the customers, for whom the café is intended to be an inclusive, safe, friendly space, open to people and their pets, where there is opportunity to collaborate and find support networks, 2) the employees, to create an equally safe, equitable, and teamwork space, 3) and adjacent businesses, with whom they seeks to abolish the idea of unfair competition, and are available for mutual support.
What is something about the food industry that you wish would change for the better?
Illimani: Support for entrepreneurs to be able to generate stable companies that have all the facilities to enter the world of work without having to incur losses of any kind for the sake of survival.
What do you like most about running a restaurant?
Illimani: The adrenaline of a full house. The satisfaction of a customer when they receive what they wanted and seeing that customer become a regular.
What is the most difficult aspect?
Illimani: Maintaining quality, so that a customer’s experience will always be the same.
One of the most important interview questions we ask chefs for the guide is, what message would you like the guests to take away? In illimani’s case, one of the most important things is that customers know that Vlüm’s staff care about their well-being, that they want to listen to them, and learn from them in order to improve.