Hotels and resorts in Mexico continue to raise the bar when it comes to cuisine. And they’re earning bragging rights in different ways. Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, for example, showcased the company’s Spanish roots with a series of special dinners this year.
Their “Iberostar Chef on Tour” initiative brought 16 Michelin-starred chefs to properties in Mexico and the Caribbean. The roster included culinary superstars such as the Catalan’s Jordi Cruz. He’s the second-youngest chef in the world to earn a Michelin star.
Travel Agent attended the finale Iberostar Chef on Tour event, called “Women with Stars.” The dinner and wine pairing at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraíso on the Riviera Maya featured five female Michelin-starred chefs. Among them, Macarena De Castro of Jardín Restaurant on Mallorca.
De Castro understands the challenges of pleasing the American palate in a high-volume resort setting. She spent time working with Julián Serrano at Picasso Restaurant at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
“Being here on the Riviera Maya was quite interesting for us. The Caribbean is very different from Spain. But we enjoyed putting a menu together that incorporates local ingredients and especially seafood,” De Castro tells Travel Agent.
Mexico’s indigenous influences are particularly intriguing to De Castro.
“As a chef, it’s very fascinating to be in a place with so many different influences. It is a dream to be here in a big, modern resort destination. But there are also many historic cities that are internationally known for their regional cuisine,” De Castro tells Travel Agent.
She has a point. In fact, UNESCO has placed traditional Mexican cuisine on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Tour operators have long featured Oaxaca and Puebla on culinary specialty tours. Mexico City is a gastronomic powerhouse. And Mexico’s second city has also come into its own.
Guadalajara has always been known for its street food. But trendy boutique hotels are enhancing its draw. Carlos Couturier, managing partner of Grupo Habita tells Travel Agent that Guadalajara is reinventing itself through gastronomy.
“The city is a magnet for young and creative chefs. Home to quintessential Mexican elements like tequila and mariachi, this city has a unique life style that has not been reproduced in other parts of Mexico,” said Couturier.
Chefs from throughout Mexico and abroad will gather in Puerto Vallarta this month. The 21st edition of the International Gourmet Festival takes place November 16-22. On tap are chef’s tables, gourmet safaris, wine tastings and gourmet dinners.
A “who’s who” of Puerto Vallarta resorts will host events, including the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Executive chefs from Velas Resorts on the Riviera Maya, Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta will participate in a “Kitchen Fiesta” event. The seven-course tasting tour takes place in the Grand Velas kitchen.
“Alongside creative cocktails from Patrón Tequila, the event unites the distinct culinary talents of our chefs during the International Gourmet Festival for an unforgettable evening,” Ignacio Mendoza, managing director of Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit tells Travel Agent.
In October, Grand Velas Riviera Maya presented the Best of France Event, a ten-course dinner with wine pairing from four Maîtres Cuisiniers de France.
“At Velas Resorts, we take food seriously. We even call ourselves Mexico’s Foodie Resorts. In addition to dedicated award-winning chefs in each of our restaurants and unique foodie experiences like a hot sauce tasting and full bottle of artisanal tequila in suite, we offer our guests unique dining events that even the biggest ‘foodies’ savor,” said Mendoza.