Juan Manuel “Juanma” Barrientos, Executive Chef and Creative Director at Elcielo Restaurants, recently spoke about his career with Elcielo and shared his views on current industry trends.

As Executive Chef and Creative Director, Barrientos is in charge of creating all dishes for all the Elcielo restaurants. As leader of both the front and back of the house, he takes great pride in the design and assembly of the entire facility and every aspect of the kitchen including the  restaurant where patrons experience their creations.

Barrientos’ interest in cooking started as a hobby. Before opening his first restaurant, he worked in the international trade industry. Next he decided to leapfrog from hobby to entrepreneurship. It turned out that the restaurant environment and the actual gastronomic component of developing dishes using his creativity and inspirations was much more fulfilling than his day job. So he dedicated himself solely to the kitchen and has never looked back.

Today’s consumers are focused on local products and food produced using environmentally conscious techniques with healthy food and cuisine certainly in style. Barrientos explained that “there’s nothing new here—at Elcielo restaurants—in Miami, Medellin, and Bogotá—we have always worked with local products.”

There is something new coming, however, a healthy food restaurant serving organic products and featuring a lifestyle center. It’s called KAI A Better Life.  At KAI A Better Life, there are vegan, vegetarian, and organic menus planned. Another project coming is a fair in Medellín (Colombia) called GLOCAL. At GLOCAL, the community seeks to honor outstanding local producers and their role in cuisine, and to address the new (healthy) trends overtaking gastronomy in the world. It will be held from September 27 – 30, 2018.


“the future is now, and it’s all about leading and developing projects and proposals to take advantage of the wealth of local.”


Barrientos believes that the world of cooking is going back to basics, returning to comfort food and home cooking, to the flavors of our childhoods. Barrientos seeks to respect that environment and to appreciate the richness of local products. He concluded that “the future is now, and it’s all about leading and developing projects and proposals to take advantage of the wealth of local [resources].”

Click here to learn more about Barrientos and his vision for the industry.