Famed Guanajuato chef to prepare fund-raising dinner here

A Mexican exchange student from Ashland’s Sister City, Guanajuato, will enroll at Ashland High School this fall. Seventeen-year-old Luis Pablo Domínguez Vázquez is the son of Bricio Domínguez and Ruth Vázquez. Dominguez is owner-chef at one of Guanajuato’s world-class restaurants, El Jardín de los Milagros (The Garden of Miracles).

Vázquez and Luís Pablo’s sister, Natalia, as her city’s summer festival queen, came to Ashland last year with the official Guanajuato delegation to the Fourth of July parade and celebration. Vázquez is the daughter of Pedro Vázquez Nieto, poet-photographer-lawyer-hotelier whose pictures of Guanajuato are on permanent display in the Ashland Library’s Gresham Room.

Luis Pablo will be staying this school year with Amigo Club Vice President Suzanne Haveman and her husband, Richard.

About the first thing Luis Pablo did after arriving early Wednesday morning was accompany Haveman in search of ingredients his father needs to prepare a world-class, full-course Mexican gourmet dinner for Amigo Club’s fall “Guanajuato Nights” fund-raising silent auction and dinner. Proceeds will go toward an endowed exchange student scholarship fund. They were warmly received by Omar’s James Williams, fresh from victory at Oregon’s Iron Chef contest in Portland. Williams took the time, with the help of a kitchen worker’s Spanish, to review the menu and ingredients list and answer questions.

Luis Pablo will work in the “Guanajuato Nights” kitchen with his father.

Amigo Club Creates Endowed Scholarship

Amigo Club President Betzabé “Mina” Turner sees the scholarship “as a history-making initiative in line with our basic mission of supporting cultural and people-to-people contact between Guanajuato and Ashland.” The communities have been Sister Cities for 46 years.

The club earlier this year raised more than $30,000 in donations and pledges to the endowment, including $12,500 in matching funds from Frances “Faffie” Siekman of Guanajuato, but a larger endowment would generate more significant annual scholarship amounts.

The scholarship will benefit students from SOU and the University of Guanajuato who participate in the Amistad (Friendship) student exchange program, which since 1969 has involved more than 1,000 student, faculty and administration participants. There have been 81 cross-cultural student marriages.

The “Guanajuato Nights” fund-raiser in November will feature a silent auction and multi-course dinner prepared by chef Domínguez, who creates gourmet dishes from traditional Mexico ingredients.

“It’s Mexican food with a flair,” Turner said, “and ranks with the best cooking anywhere. It’s different than the ‘Tex-Mex’ we’re accustomed to.”

Siekman and her husband, Sen. Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, were early Amistad exchange students.

“The exchange program has literally changed our lives,” Siekman said in a letter to the Amigo Club membership. “My husband has always publicly recognized that his academic training at SOU allowed him to become … the president of the University of Guanajuato for eight years, the governor of the State of Guanajuato and the country’s higher education science coordinator.” As a federal senator, Romero Hicks led national education reform legislation through the Mexican Congress in 2013.

Festival Cervantino XLIII — Oct. 7–25

This year’s 43rd annual International Cervantes Festival in Guanajuato has the theme of “The Science of Art, the Art of Science,” offering what the organizers call a “game of mirrors” between the worlds of science and art. Thirty-four countries will participate, featuring 3,000 artists and 450 artistic activities. Events will be held in dozens of theaters, plazas and other venues in the city, with satellite events in other plazas in the state and around the country. Among those invited are two Nobel Prize winners, the chemist Ronald Hoffmann and the physicist George Fitzgerald Smoot. 

For more details and tickets, visit the festival Webpage at www.festivalcervantino.gob.mx/el-acordeon-del-diablo.

Amigo Club’s Entre Amigos (Between Friends) column about Ashland ties to its sister city Guanajuato, Mexico, appears on the third Tuesday of each month. Longtime AP reporter and bureau chief Kernan Turner is an Ashland resident and Amigo Club member.

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