Travel & Leisure India & South Asia


THE FIRST CUSTOMER to eat at Helena Adentro arrived on horseback. It was a cool night in October 2012, and chef Alejandro Fajardo Mendoza had just lit the grill outside the century-old house that he and his partner, Jade Gosling, had spent the previous few months fixing up in the sleepy hilltop village of Filandia. The pair had only recently moved from Australia—where they’d met at hospitality school—to central Colombia’s Eje Cafetero, or ‘Coffee Axis’, where Fajardo grew up. Using all $8,000 of their savings, they had stripped soot stains from the adobe walls and painted the ceiling beams primary-school shades to match the gingerbread eaves of the buildings surrounding the nearby plaza.

At the time, Helena Adentro was a flash of colour in a village where the most successful businesses were the local term for coffee, which translates literally (and aptly) as ‘ink’. Before long, Fajardo and Gosling’s project would become the Eje Cafetero’s most ambitious and best-loved restaurant—and the gravitational core in a quickly expanding universe of young farmers, restaurateurs, and hoteliers.

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