Here in Australia we are lucky enough to live in one of the most multicultural countries in the world and our richness in cultural diversity should be celebrated. There is no better way to do this than through food which has an amazing power of bringing people together, breaking down barriers and promoting and preserving other cultures and traditions.

This month, the Hyatt Canberra and the Latin American embassies are hosting a celebration of Latin American cuisine with the return of the Latin American Flavours Festival. If you have a love for Latin American cuisine or are just curious about trying something new this is definitely a festival not to miss.

On Wednesday evening I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Gala Dinner held in the Hyatt’s Federal Ballroom to mark the launch of the festival. There is no doubt Latin American’s know how to host a good party and I had an amazing fun-filled evening of delicious food, entertainment and dancing that went on well into the night.

Traditional Latin American Margarita

Traditional drinks and cocktails were served up throughout the event to accompany the food and I started off the evening with a very delightful Margarita – a traditional Latin American cocktail.

The highlight of the evening was the buffet dinner which took us on a trip around Latin America with offerings from the 12 different countries involved in the festival. If you are new to Latin American cuisine like me, the dishes can be described as being very robust and flavoursome with European, African and Asian influences mixed with indigenous roots. Common to the dishes on the buffet were fresh seafood, meats, salsas, potatoes, maize and peppers. I think I managed to try a bit of everything including a few different dishes I had never tried before like the Colombian patacones (fried plantaines) that I thoroughly enjoyed.

What was clear from the large and very different selection of dishes on the buffet was that although similar in some ways, Latin America is truly a collection of diverse and vibrant cultures and cuisines.

Chef Nitin and his culinary team

The buffet dinner was followed by a selection of beautifully presented sumptuous desserts that I had made sure to leave room for. The highlight for me was definitely the Colombian merengon de fresas (meringue, cream and strawberries) followed by the tequila choco mousse, churros and banana rum tarts.

Colombian Merengon De Fresas

While we indulged in the buffet we were treated to traditional and modern performances from each region including the Chilean dance group Manquehue, a passionate Argentine tango performance and a vibrant and exciting performance by Brazilian dance group Subsdance Studio and Glamourosas. To finish off an already fantastic evening there was live music from the Cuban band Mi Tierra that had everyone up dancing and mingling for the rest of the night.

Argentine Tango (Image Credit: Avon Dissanayake)

Following the launch, the festival will pay homage to the richness and diversity of Latin American culture through a series of 12 buffet dinners created by chef Nitin Kumar and his culinary team. Each dinner will showcase a different country and its unique cuisine through a buffet style dinner and traditional performances that can be experienced by you for $78.

There are still 10 more themed dinners to experience throughout the month of June starting with the Argentina buffet this evening. If you are a fan of Latin American food, interested in trying something new or are just looking for a fun filled cultural evening in Canberra I would definitely recommend heading along to experience one or more of the dinners.

Details on how to book can be found below.

Do you have a favourite Latin American cuisine? Let me know in the comments below!

What: The Latin American Flavours Festival 2017

Where: Hyatt Canberra

Book: Call 02 6269 8901 or email mikaela.panting@hyatt.com

When: 31 May 2017 to 25 June 2017

Uruguay: Friday, 2 June 2017

Cuba: Saturday, 3 June 2017

Argentina: Sunday, 4 June 2017

Colombia: Friday 9 June 2017

Chile: Saturday, 10 June 2017

Brazil: Sunday, 11 June 2017

Venezuela: Friday, 16 June 2017

Ecuador: Saturday 17 June 2017

El Salvador & Guatemala: Sunday, 18 June 2017

Mexico: Friday, 23 June 2017

Paraguay: Saturday, 24 June 2017

Peru: Sunday, 25 June 2017

 I was invited along as a guest to the Festival but all opinions expressed are 100% my own.