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Chatting with John Koechlin from Decatur’s Las Brasas

Las Brasas owner John Koechlin

Las Brasas owner John Koechlin

Since I started this new format (no star ratings), it has been a learning experience and one that I want to maximize for readers. Some of the proprietors at places I have profiled have been forthcoming and conversational, but others can be challenging to extract information from (even with a prepared list of questions) largely due to language barriers.

Last week’s story about Decatur’s Las Brasas is one I will view as a benchmark for the written story. Photography-wise, this was a tough subject. The tiny kitchen doesn’t have a lot of natural light pouring in, and it was extremely tough to get a good shot of the chickens roasting in the rotombo (roaster) when smoke was wafting all around. (All that smoke makes your shots look blue and hazy.)

But what it lacked in photographic opportunities, owner John Koechlin made up in stories. I loved talking to Koechlin, and he certainly leads an interesting life. He is a proud Peruvian with German ancestry and can talk your ears off about the mish-mash of food found in Peru, or his experiences with funky Japanese dishes he sampled while travelling.

The majority of Koechlin’s travels is due to his second job as a flight attendant. Every Monday through Wednesday, Koechlin dons his Delta uniform and shuttles from Atlanta to his Latin America territories. He then runs Las Brasas for the remainder of the week.

There was so much Koechlin relayed to me that I wish I could have figured out to condense it all into last week’s print story. But one little nugget we discussed a lot of was the subject of eating pollo a la brasa with just your fingers.

The first time I had Koechlin’s version, I couldn’t help but eat it with just my fingers. He told me a story from his youth where one polleria (“chicken shop”) serving pollo a la brasa would serve a small bowl of warm water fused with lime juice so diners can wash their fingers in it after picking at the chicken. Koechlin tells me “one time my father and I witnessed a tourist drink that bowl of cleaning water.. Nobody told him what it’s for!” And with that, he has a good laugh.

by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

One comment Add your comment

CB

October 31st, 2011
7:37 pm

That really is a great place. I’m glad you reminded me to head back there for their to go lunch.