Help Chile Rebuild After the Earthquake

by Liz Caskey on March 2, 2010

Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk. As I walked quietly, I observed the pristine yards in our neighborhood. The mountains turned pink at dusk. On my way home, I saw the first pile of rubble in our area. Images from the south flashed through my mind. Ironically, it wasn’t destruction from the earthquake. It was a demolition for new shops. There it was: destruction and rebuilding. One in the same; equal yet opposite.

Thankfully, normalcy has now been restored quickly in virtually all of Chile except the affected areas approximately within 100 miles of Concepción. I realized rebuilding a business is really no different than rebuilding a road, or a house. Besides all the physical damage from the quake, the news now begins speculating about the quake’s impact on the Chilean economy, not only in the devastated areas, but countrywide. Will it naturally happen or only if we let this be the case? We have to step forward and reconstruct.

Speaking with business owners and how this may affect their shops/companies/enterprises, I realized the domino effect of all of this. A business does not simply support its owners. In service industries like hospitality the amount of people contributing to produce one final product is astounding: drivers, mechanics, waiters, cooks, managers, receptionists, doormen, maids, guides, growers of the products, distributors, wineries, glass makers, and many more. Hundreds if not thousands of people all make up part of the symbiotic relationship that supports a business; like the root system of a tree.

The backbone of Chile, and one of the major reasons it has thrived in recent years, is no doubt its entrepreneurial spirit. People have started businesses of all sizes simply with a vision; to make their dream a reality. This includes our business too. We founded our business from a love for the artisans, the countryside, the restaurants, the wineries and the gracious, passionate people behind these projects. We wanted to share this with others. We feel a deep responsibility as a local business to step forward in the aftermath of this earthquake. We have a commitment to our clients, vendors, employees, and country. After considering how to best achieve this, given the obvious challenges, we decided to create an impact with the farthest possible reach—by sharing what we love about Chile and our home, Santiago. This is incarnated in our new e-guide, Eat Wine Santiago.

This e-guide took me nearly a year to research, scout, write, edit, and fine tune. Born from a constant necessity of information that simply did not exist, my vision for Eat Wine Santiago was grounded in capturing Santiago with a local, expert yet obviously foodie perspective. I want readers to dive into Santiaguino culture through the city itself and while enjoying exquisite food and wine. Beyond being a traditional travel guide, the e-guide acts as a “host” while visiting my city and adopted country. I compiled where I would take my best clients, editors, family, and friends. I personally vetted all the entries with my own taste buds and eyes. The mission being that I want people to eat and drink well in Santiago–and have a lot of fun in the process. With everything going mobile, I opted for an e-guide: portable, ecologically friendly, innovative, and compatible with Kindle and iPhone.

Ironically, this project has come to fruition in one of the toughest moments Chile has faced in years. Bienviendo al mundo Eat Wine Santiago. Given the timing, we are sharing a significant portion of the proceeds of Eat Wine Santiago with a non-profit foundation we support with our culinary & wine tours during many years. As an ecological high school and organic farm in Pirque, a country village near the capital, this wonderful organization offers tuition-free high school for high-risk youth in the marginal areas of Santiago. The foundation’s adobe villa and school experienced serious damage in the quake along with the homes of some students. The foundation is also channeling funds to help reconstruction in areas of the Maule, one of the most affected regions in the South in addition to Concepción. The proceeds from Eat Wine Santiago sales will directly benefit these initiatives and rebuilding.

Whether or not you are Santiago-bound at this precise moment, or have already been to Chile and love it, I encourage you to please buy this guide. Even if your interest is not in visiting right now, if you are curious about Chile’s cuisine, wines, culture, and local vibe this guide will give you all of that—and pitch in directly to the reconstruction efforts too.  By purchasing the Eat Wine Santiago guide you’ll be:

  • Supporting all the small businesses listed in the guide: from joints for classic dishes like seasonal tamales to where my caseros hawk the best veggies; top restaurants crafted in the eye of creative chefs; organic food shops started attended by the owners. All these places are benefited by having patrons of the guide who visit them.
  • Contribute to reconstruction with a local Foundation: The Red Cross’ relief efforts are truly noble. However, we choose to directly support our relationship with a local non-profit making a huge difference in the community to channel those funds to those in need.
  • Learn about Chile’s culture, Food and wines: Probably after the news you can identify Chile on the map, and better understand its unique geography. How about the country’s culture and people? That’s the life force, the espiritú, of this place. Yes, Chile’s nature is awe-inspiring. However, the culture brings alive a new dimension as do the food and wines. Eat Wine Santiago connects you with this.
  • Free updates for the first two editions: Okay, you say Santiago is not on your radar right now but it will be down the road. Act on that curiosity; buy the e-guide to help pique your interest even more. We’ll provide the first two updates over the next two years free of charge. We want you to come to Santiago, to Chile. We want you to experience this amazing place. It will be love at first sight—or bite.
  • Try the food and wines at home: Apart from orientation to the city, travel tips and tons of recommendations, Eat Wine Santiago has pages upon pages of comprehensive wine lists and a culinary dictionary. Print it and take it to your local wine shop. Seek out a Chilean restaurant (there is a big Chilean community in the US) and go try pastel de choclo, corn pie, or plateada, juicy braised brisket with a good bottle of Carmenere. Use it to organize a Support Chile Night and buy Chilean wines, fruits, and other products (like this guide) to support Chile.

Won’t you please consider supporting business, tourism, and the reconstruction efforts in Chile (and yes, our business is obviously included)? Eat Wine Santiago costs only US$27—the same price as one meal or a decent bottle of yummy Chilean wine.

Tomorrow, I’ll be announcing a cool contest for all purchases of Eat Wine Santiago. We have to keep our sense of humor and perspective in all this! Hasta mañana–now go get your copy of Eat Wine Santiago, or at


Brittany March 7, 2010 at 8:11 am

Hi. I had bought a plan ticket to go to Santiago, Chile before the earthquake. I am extremely nervous about the aftershocks. I am having second thoughts about coming because i am afraid of the damage and what could happen with more aftershocks. Should i be concerned?

Liz Caskey March 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm

The aftershocks are much less now than last week and many not perceivable. Some of the stronger ones the news has broadcast are in the epicenter around Talca and Concepción, 200-300 miles away from the capital, so in Santiago they feel less intense. There is no danger of tsunami nor damage in most cases, unless of course you are in ruins or something already inestable. I suggest reading about geogoly in Chile and earthquakes in general. Besides interesting, it will help ground your concerns in engineering and science. Honestly, Santiago the damage is extremely mild. I woudn’t let this deter you from a trip here. Please see this post.

Ellen Verdugo March 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Hi Liz – just came upon you and your doings and I’m delighted! My husband is from Chile and next saturday (3/27), he, our daughter and I wil be arriving for a weeek’s visit to family. Are you doing your food tour in Santiago that next week? I love to cook (by avocation and training) and my daughter is a grad student at Rhode Island School of Design in Graphic Design and does Bikram yoga. She is vegetarian and we are – a term I kind of like – flexitarians! We all love and are conscious about our food, and plan to do some wine-exploring in our short week – granted the aftermath of the quake makes it possible. Love to connect with you while there. Saw some mention of a tour and lunch that you do? Sounds fun…!

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