Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Chefs Shake Up the Kitchens in San Miguel de Allende

          Executive Chef Ana Martinez heads up the kitchens at Panio Atelier Du Pain

With an infusion of new restaurants comes a whole new crop of chefs, many who are new to the SMA culinary scene. Some have worked with icons like Chef Enrique Olvera and Chef Rick Bayless; still others make the cut with an abundance of natural talent. Many have trained with some of SMA’s best chefs: Matteo Salas, Marco Cruz, Donnie Masterton and Greta Ortega Casanas.
You probably haven’t heard of many of them; we hadn’t either until this past month. Here’s just a taste of how they got here:
Chef Arturo Sandoval of ATRIO was taught how things should taste by his grandfather, Chef Wenseslao Sandoval. Arturo has already raised the bar with his incredible Mexican – Peruvian - Spanish fusion cooking.
Chef Mauricio Lara Sarmiento of Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada began his training with the great names of Mexican cuisine: Chef Enrique Olvera in Pujol and Chef Mikel Alonso at Biko.

It all began for Chef Paul Bentley of Bovine in his native Australia. Sparked by his inherent curiosity, he began to see the connection and natural coexistence between agricultural production and the sea; an insight that’s become his greatest advantage as a chef.  

Chef Miguel Nunez of Bovine polished his culinary skills at two 50 Best Restaurants: Restaurante Alcalde in Guadalajara and Corazon de Tierra in Baja California.
Sous chef Raul Partida of Bovine started working in gastronomy at eighteen; developing his passion for cooking from his mother, Carolina, and grandmother, Socorro. 
Sous chef Juana Pérez of Buen Viaje went to culinary school through the generosity of two expats: Roslyn Colley and Sharon Segal. She now has the benefit of training with one of SMA’s best chefs, Marco Cruz.

Although Chef Stephanie Cerón of B'ui cocina de campo supervises and prepares the entire restaurant menu with her team, her real passion is desserts.

Sous chef Irene Palma of B'ui cocina de campo was commissioned for her first position in the kitchen on the grill; today, she’s a master at it.
Pantry chef Diana Castillo of B’ui cocina de campo is currently a student at UTSMA and is part of the all female kitchen at the restaurant.
The cooking of Chef Jonathan Cuevas Fuentes of Beelia cocina y cava was influenced by his mother and grandmother, both of them chefs in Mexico City.
Chef Juan Jose (J.J.) Castaneda of Fatima studied at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in Napa Valley and the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and trained with chefs Rick Bayless, Michael Mina, Rolland Passot and Donnie Masterton.
Gerardo Hernandez Davalos of Hacienda Los Picachos graduated with a Bachelor of Gastronomy from UTSMA SMA and once staged for MiVida chef, Greta Ortega Casanas.
Chef Miguel Gallegos Miranda of Mama Mias has taken on an enormous challenge: moving this forty two year old restaurant to a more organic profile.
Chef Cesar Garcia of Marchanta Comedor knows all about healthy eating; he was a nutritionist before he started his career as a chef.
Sous chef Izacc Montalvo of Marsala cocina con acentos trained with two leading chefs: Juanxo Sánchez, a judge on Top Chef Mexico and Michelin star chef Alejandro Sánchez of the The St. Regis Mexico City.
Sous chef Juan Manuel Galvin of Nextia won the 2017 Chef of Guanajuato contest that took place this past August. Although he’s worked with Chef Alonso Dominguez for some time, only his customers knew he was so talented until he won this major award.
Sous Chef Grecia Micaela Carrasco Chávez of Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion has the benefit of professional, hands-on training: currently with Chef Marco Cruz and Chef Sofia Antillon at Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion and previously at Restaurante Tabachin, a 4 Diamond restaurant in Acapulco.

Chef Xavier Pinero of OCRE was selected by the MAG Gastronomic festival in an elite group of nine up and coming chefs on the rise for his work at his restaurant, Aborigen Cocina Salvaje.

Sous chef Daniel Durán García of OCRE trained with some of SMA’s best chefs: Matteo Salas at Áperi and Israel Loyola in Jacinto 1930. He also did a stint with Chef Diego Hernandez Baquedano at Corazón de Tierra before joining Chef Xavier Pinero to open OCRE in 2018.
Sous chef Alina Stalone of Panio Atelier Du Pain hails from New York and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She trained in farm to fork dining at restaurants in the United States.
Chef Emilia Prats of Prats Banquetes graduated from Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP). Pastry is her first love; her goal is to open a bakery. Her father is one of SMA favorite chefs, Armando Prats Leal.
When Birdies Burgers and Taco Lab opened last year, Chef de Cuisine Hugo Velázquez Avila of The Restaurant moved to SMA from Tacolicious in San Francisco. He’ll help out with the opening of Fatima in 2018.
Chef Alan Carias of Trazo 1810 graduated from the University of Puebla and polished his culinary skills working at restaurants in the Riviera Maya. His flair for originality is always transparent in his cooking.
Pastry Chef Abi Verde of Trazo 1810 worked with international chefs like Benoit Gaillot, Karen Man, Kenny Kuri and Enrique Olvera. She’s one of the young, new pastry chefs to watch in 2018.
After working at Aperi, Chef Jesus Vazquez Reyna of Under the Table spent a season at L’Astrance, a three Michelin star restaurant in Paris.
Chef Mariana Gonzales Gutierrez of Under the Table started her career as an intern at Pujol when she was just 19 years old. She saw photos of Aperi in an airline magazine and wrote them for a job. They offered her an internship, hiring her full time just three weeks later.
All of these chefs are exceptional, marking their path with hard work, passion and a commitment to making San Miguel de Allende one of the best food cities in the world.
Stay tuned; we’ll do a follow up article on this group sometime next year.

Buen Provecho!

Chef Arturo Sandoval Rivero, ATRIO
Born in Mexico City, Chef Sandoval loves to travel and is passionate about knowing other cultures through their kitchens. He graduated with a degree in Gastronomy from the IESTUR University (Institute of Higher Studies in Tourism). In his third semester, he had the opportunity to work with Chef Moma at Restaurant Osaka Pedregal in Mexico City, specializing in Peruvian-Japanese Cuisine. He ultimately became head chef, and then moved to their new branch in Polanco as Sous chef. One year later, he was chef of the unit. As a member of the restaurant group Am Pm Rest, he collaborated on various culinary projects with Chef Moma: La Bocha, Luzia, La Lupe, Cuines,Tomato Bar and Lucy Shanghai. Two years later, he was in charge of opening Ponzu Restaurant in Puebla, Cuernavaca and Polanco. He became the Executive Chef at Ponzu and La Bocha in Puebla. Before he was offered the job at ATRIO, he traveled to Lima, Peru to work with Chef Moma at the Jerónimo Restaurants and at KO Asían Cuisine with Chef Gianfranco.  At ATRIO, the seat of his culinary creations, he works with an experienced team to fuse different types of cuisines – mainly Mexican, Peruvian, and Spanish - and is committed to setting the standard for how a restaurant experience should be for ATRIO’s guests."That was never taught in school," he said. 

Chef Mauricio Lara, Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada
With a long career at Hard Rock, this passionate chef is new to San Miguel de Allende; ready to make his mark with an excellent brand behind him: Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada.
Chef Mauricio Lara Sarmiento says that passion, pride and discipline defines the world of gastronomy. Born in Mexico City, his training began with the great names of Mexican cuisine: Enrique Olvera in Pujol and Mikel Alonso in Biko. Eager to make a mark, he started as an Executive Sous chef at the Hard Rock Hotel Rivera Maya, implementing a molecular kitchen and chef's table in the restaurants. Later, as Executive Chef of Hard Rock Vallarta, he was named the youngest Executive Chef of Hard Rock International for three consecutive years and took first place in satisfaction for Food and Beverage worldwide. He was also the first place winner for dishes and originality for all Rivera Nayarit. He hosted the 8th edition of Vallarta Nayarit Gastronómica with Michelin star legends like Chef Jordi Rocca. He was later named Executive Chef of Hard Rock and Casino Punta Cana.

Now at Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, he works with Executive Sous chef, Antonio Juarez Arzola, to step up the Mexican tradition with a totally new, fine dining concept.

Executive Chef Paul Bentley
Chef Miguel Alejandro Nuñez Salas
Sous chef Raúl Ocaranza Partida
The power of teamwork is mighty in kitchen at Bovine and we think this restaurant has one of the best teams in San Miguel de Allende.
Part of the chef community in SMA even before he opened Bovine with Bruce James, Chef Paul Bentley was a guest chef at Sabores San Miguel back in 2016 and is pictured here with Chef Matteo Salas of Aperi.
Cook, baker, pastry chef, entrepreneur, and visionary, Paul Bentley is an Australian with deep passions and values that determined every moment of his culinary journey. It all began in native southwestern Australia when, sparked by his inherent curiosity, he began to see the connection and natural coexistence between agricultural production and the sea; an understanding that became his greatest asset as a chef. Now, with more than 20 years of experience in gastronomy, he has been part of some of the most acclaimed restaurants in Australia (with Chef Bocuse), Europe and New York as well as Mexico including three Michelin three star restaurants: in France at Pierre Gagnaire, at La Pergola in Rome and at Daniel in New York. In 2015 he opened Magno Brasserie in Guadalajara, which was named the best new restaurant last year byTravel + Leisure magazine. He also has the acclaimed Mi Amor restaurant in Tulum.

At seventeen, Chef Miguel Nuñez worked at a coffee bar, Café and CO. He went to work at Rugantino Pizza e vino the following year and at twenty-one, started working in Restaurante Alcalde, one of the 50 Best Restaurants, as a cook and then as Sous chef petit. Miguel’s career took a spike when he became Sous chef at Corazon de Tierra in Baja, a 50 Best Restaurant for four consecutive years. The following year, he returned to Guadalajara to cook with Chef Paul Bentley, who ultimately offered him the position of chef at Bovine.

Sous che Raúl Ocaranza Partida is originally from Guadalajara and graduated from the Universidad de la Cienega. He developed a passion for the kitchen from his mother Carolina and grandmother Socorro. Early in his career, he went to work for one of the most famous restaurants in Guadalajara, Restaurante Alcalde, a 50 Best Restaurant, as a cook, ultimately finishing as head of the departure in the hot area. He also did a stint at Restaurant El Pez in Tulum before coming to Bovine.

Sous chef Juana Pérez Balderas, Casa Buen Viaje
Juana Pérez Balderas learned the culinary basics from her grandmother and mother; her family is the one who inspires her every day. In 2017, Juana completed her professional career at the Technological University of San Miguel de Allende. In 2015 she did an internship at La Pradera Campanal Restaurant in Asturias, Spain with Chef Ángel Gonzales Riera. In 2017 she worked at the Crown Paradise Club Hotel Cancun and currently works at Casa Buen Viaje under the direction of Chef Marco Cruz of Nomada. Her primary passion is Mexican food. Expat, Sally Reid says of Juana “It’s been a great pleasure knowing her for thirteen years, to enjoy her growth, especially pursuing her passion and joy of cooking, now at a professional level. She has been fearless in following her path. To achieve her goals, she had loving support from long time resident Roslyn Colley and a frequent visitor, Sharon Segal. She sets an incredible example for today’s young women.”

                                                    Photo provided by B'ui cocina de campo
Chef Stephanie Ceron
Sous chef Irene Palma
Pantry Sous chef Diana Castillo
Bu’i cocnia de campo
Chef Stephanie Ceron studied at the Coronado gastronomy school in Mexico with her first job at the restaurant-school Root, under Chef Arturo Fernández. She came to B’ui cocina de campo to work as part of the kitchen team and worked at Milpa, also owned by B’ui owner Daniel Estebaranz. Last year, she became the head chef at B’ui. Although she supervises and prepares the entire restaurant menu with her team, her passion is desserts.
Sous chef Irene Palma arrived to help open B'ui four years ago. Because of her great interest in growing and participating in different cooking areas, Irene was commissioned as her first position in the kitchen on the grill. We think she’s a master at it now.

Pantry Sous chef Diana Castillo is currently a student attending UTSMA and is in charge of all cold items.
At B’ui, Stephanie, Irene and Diana make up part of an all female kitchen.

                                                         Photo provided by Chef Castaneda
Chef Juan Jose (J.J.) Castaneda, Fatima
A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, San Francisco and the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in Napa Valley, Ca., he became the face of El Paso Chihuahuas, a minor league baseball team, serving 8,000 – 10,000 people daily and registered on with one of the top five ballpark foods in the US. He studied under James Beard Award winning Chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, was Executive Chef at Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse in San Francisco, Executive Chef at Maria Maria La Cantina in Austin, along with owner- musician Carlos Santana and Corporate Chef Roberto Santibanez. He was the Executive Sous chef for Zibibbo, named as one of the “Best Restaurants in America” by Gourmet Magazine. He worked with Chef Roland Passot and Chef Michael Mina at Aqua, helped Chef Donnie Masterton open Azie in San Francisco and worked side by side with his culinary idols: Julia Child, Paul Bocuse and Nancy Oakes.

Chef Jonathan Cuevas Fuentes, Beélia cocina y cava at Hacienda de Guadalupe
Hacienda de Guadalupe converted it’s once popular bar and dance floor into a new restaurant, Beélia cocina y cava, with an exciting menu and wine list. Heading up the kitchen there is Mexico City native Chef Jonathan Cuevas Fuentes, who inherited his love of cooking from his mother and grandmother, who were both cooks in Mexico City. He studied gastronomy at the Universidad del Valle de México. After graduation, he started his training in the bakery at Hotel Nikko México and continued his work at the Hotel Sheraton María Isabel, Grupo Anderson, and finally as a kitchen assistant in Au Pied de Cochon with French Chef Yann Michel Cozic. He was also the Executive Chef at Hotel Real de Minas before coming to Hacienda de Guadalupe to open Beélia cocina y cava this year.
Chef Gerardo Hernandez Davalos, Restaurant YO at Hacienda Los Picachos
Born in 1992 in Mexico City, he graduated with a Bachelor of Gastronomy from UTSMA SMA. He has five years of experience as a chef: at Hacienda Tres Rios, Sunset World Hotels and Resorts, Riviera Maya Cancun, and Planta Alta Restaurant in Celaya. He also staged at MiVida Restaurant in SMA for Chef Greta Ortega. He's currently the chef at Restaurant YO at Hacienda Los Picachos, forming part of an experienced team of chefs working at the restaurant.

Chef Miguel Gallegos Miranda, Mama Mia
Serving 1,000 people each weekend is no easy task but with a staff of fifty four, Chef Miguel Gallegos Miranda makes it look easy. What isn’t simple is the assignment he took on when he was hired: to make Mama Mia’s, one of the oldest and most popular tourist restaurants in SMA, more organic, incorporating food from their organic farm, Rancho Luna, located behind the Sanctuary at Atotonilco.
As a child, Miguel never had relatives to teach him about flavors and techniques so he devoured magazines and books, taking cookbooks out of the school library which were later gifted to him. Studying culinary arts at UVM (Universidad del Valle de Mexico), he staged at Le Basilic Cancun with Chef Silvain Desbois and later with Chef Mikel Alonso at Biko. Working at Biko changed his life; it was named in the top 50 Best in the world the year he worked there, which encouraged him to do stints at some of the world’s finest restaurants. He worked with Chef Margot Janse in Franschhoek, South Africa, at the Tasting Room in Le Quartier Francoise, and at The Test Kitchen with Chef Luke Dale Roberts in Cape Town. Surrounded by vineyards and organic, grazing and free range farms, he learned to respect the products, discovering the proper techniques to emphasize them. In Wolfsburg, Germany, at his first three Michelin star restaurant, Aqua, he worked as part of a creative team with Chef Sven Elverford. He returned to Mexico, and worked as a senior partner and development chef with Chef Daniel Ovadia in Paxia, focusing on contemporary Mexican cuisine. He opened Anatol with Chef Justin Ermini, only to discovered flavor. After working for a brief time in the UK, he returned to Mexico and opened Garum with Chef Vicente Torres as Chef de Cuisine and leader of his creative team. He also did a stage with Narisawa and Jimbocho Den in Japan, to learn about Japanese culture, flavors, and discipline. He returned to Mexico to accept the challenge at Mama Mia’s.

His progress has been impressive. Mama Mia’s is now making their own bread, pasta, and bacon, growing their own vegetables, raising hens and chickens, and growing all of the grain for their private label beer. Hechicera, the first of its brands, made its debut this year.

Chef Cesar Garcia, Marchanta Comedor
For the past seven years, Chef Cesar Garcia had the benefit of working with Chef Marco Cruz at La Estacion in Mexico City and now at Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion’s fine casual property, Marchanta Comedor, located in the old Nomada space on Nemesio Diez. Cesar graduated from Instituto Gastronomico Corbuse and worked as a nutritionist before he became a chef.

Sous chef Izacc Montalvo Gonzalez, Marsala cocina con acentos
Sous chef Izacc Montalvo Gonzalez felt the rhythm of Marcela Bolano’s kitchen from the get go. Originally from Orizaba, Veracruz, Chef Izacc Montalvo Gonzalez attended IES COLATE (Instituto de Estudios Superiores) in Orizaba and studied Gastronomy at UVP - Universidad Del Valle de Puebla.

Izacc is experienced, having worked as a Sous chef with Chef Pedro Martín in Azafrán Restaurant, in Candela Romero with Chef Alejandro Sánchez, a Michelin star chef in the The St. Regis Mexico City, with Chef Manuel Baños at Pitiona, Chef Juan Emilio Villaseñor, and also with Chef Juanxo Sánchez, a judge on Top Chef Mexico.

Sous chef Juan Manuel Galvin Lopez, Nextia

A San Miguel native, twenty three year old Chef Juan Manuel Galvin Lopez, won first place at the 2017 Chef of Guanajuato contest held at ICON University this past August. He worked for Chamonix and Hotel Real de Minas before coming to Nextia, located in Hotel Nena, to work with Chef Alonso Dominquez.

Miguel is skilled in Molecular cooking, a subdiscipline of food science that explores the transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking, it’s practiced by only a few of the best restaurants. in SMA.

Chef Pablo Nicacio, Nicasio comedor mexicano
Chef Pablo Nicacio’s resume is short but sweet. A former sous-chef for Chef Marco Cruz at La Estacion in Mexico City, B'ui cocina de campo in Otomi and Nómada Cocina de Interpretación, Pablo left to open his own restaurant, Nicasio comedor mexicano, this past fall.

We think no one has earned the title of CHEF more than Pablo.  

Sous chef Grecia Micaela Carrasco Chávez, Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion
Twenty three year old Sous chef, Grecia Micaela Carrasco Chávez, has dedicated herself to the kitchen for the past seven years. Her training began in the Restaurante Playamar Tres Cantos as a kitchen assistant.

She then worked with contemporary Mexican cuisine at María-María de Altura and later did internships at the Saffron Restaurant and at the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques Hotel in Acapulco. She left the Fairmont Pierre Marques Hotel to continue her studies. Graduating from the Universidad Tecnológica de Acapulco with a Bachelor of Gastronomy, she returned to the Hotel Pierre Mundo Imperial, formerly the Fairmont Pierre Marques Hotel, in the fine dining restaurant Tabachin, which has a Four Diamond rating. Grecia is now a Sous chef at Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion, working with chefs Marco Cruz and Sofia Antillon.
Chef Xavier Pinero
Sous chef Daniel Durán García
OCRE, cocina de fuego
This promising young chef, Xavier Piñero, was selected by the MAG Gastronomic festival as one of nine up and coming chefs on the rise for his work at his restaurant, Aborigen Cocina Salvaje. Following this project, Chef Xavier Pinero opened Amuzgo in his hometown of San Luis Potosi. He will head up the kitchen at OCRE in San Miguel de Allende this January. Chef Xavier Piñero descibes his cooking as a reinterpretation of traditional, Mexican cuisine, following no rules or guidelines other than flavor. “I have never been a person who follows the rules; I never liked them. I do not like to complicate my life. My credo is always less is more.”

Sous chef Daniel Durán García was born in 1989 in San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, studied at the Technological University of San Miguel de Allende and first worked with Chefs Karen Wix and Matteo Salas at Calenda. He left SMA for a short time but returned for the opening of Áperi, where he worked in pasta. He also worked at Jacinto 1930 with Chefs Israel Loyola to strengthen his techniques and knowledge of avant-garde and traditional Mexican cuisine. He traveled to Baja California, where Chef Diego Hernandez Baquedano gave him the opportunity to work at Corazón de Tierra. Daniel is back in SMA and will help Chef Xavier Piñero open OCRE next month.

Sous chef Alina Stalone
Panio Atelier Du Pain
Having the best Eggs Benedict on the planet has kept me going back to the new Panio Atelier Du Pain for breakfast, where I was recently introduced to this dynamic and energetic new Sous chef, Alina Stalone.
Alina attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, did an externship in Aquavit and worked in restaurants in the Midwest and on the east coast to practice farm to fork dining. When she first came to SMA, she developed the menu for Sanmiguelessen, a restaurant on Stirling Dickinson, before she was hired to work with Executive Chef Ana Martinez at Panio Atelier Du Pain. Her greatest passion is working in kitchens with other empowered women. Panio Atelier Du Pain is a great place for her to start.

Chef Emilia Prats, Prats Banquetes
Growing up with a father who is a chef, Armando Prats Leal, Emilia Prats learned how to cook when she was just a child. She studied at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP) in Culinary Arts. Now that she’s graduated, her goal is to have her own bakery, since pastry is what she loves doing the most. In the mean time, she works for her father at Prats Banquetes, which caters some of Mexico's top foods to clients around the world.

Chef de Cuisine Hugo Velázquez Avila, The Restaurant
With a true passion for cooking, this chef worked his way up the ranks with hard work and a determination to succeed. Chef Hugo Ivan Velazquez Avila was born and raised in Leon Guanajuato. At age twenty, he started working as a dishwasher in small restaurant in San Francisco, Ca., finding his way out of the dishwashing area in less than a week. He progressed from the salad and appetizer station to lead Line Cook at Pacific Catch Restaurant, later helping them to open five restaurants in the bay area. He moved to Tacolicious in San Francisco and last year came to SMA to open Taco Lab and Birdies Burgers. This year, he became Chef de Cuisine at The Restaurant and will help open Fatima in 2018.

Chef Alan Carias
Pastry Chef Abi Verde
Trazo 1810
After studying at the University at Puebla, he did an internship in Playa del Carmen and gained experience in Thai cooking from Saffron and at Banyan Tree Mayakoba. He also did an internship at Le Chique with Chef Jonathan Gómez Luna. He helped open Passion with Chef Martín Berasategui and in the hands of Chef Máx Sola, he collaborated in Grupo Karisma with Chef Jorge Boneta at Amresort as Executive Sous chef. Last year, he was hired by Alonso Barragan to direct the kitchen at Trazo 1810.
Chef Carias said the kitchen at Trazo 1810 has begun to move in a more mature, creative direction. “The dishes will have fewer ingredients, but with an explosion of flavors, to what we call "umami". Chef Verde is working on new desserts with a more creative design for her style; a difference from what we’ve already seen. It is time for us to take it to the next level of perfection, but with a more relaxed and uncommon touch.”
Pastry Chef Abi Verde worked as a Pastry Chef at the Hotel Matilda before coming to Trazo 1810 last year to head up the dessert menu. She’s worked with great, international chefs like Benoit Gaillot, Karen Man, Kenny Kuri and Enrique Olvera. She’s one of the young, new pastry chefs to watch in 2018.

Chef Jesus Vazquez Reyna
Chef Mariana Gonzalez Gutierrez
Under the Table
Born in Jalisco, Chef Jesus Vazquez Reyna went to culinary school in Guadalajara. After completing his studies at ECI (Escuela Culinaria Internaciona) he worked in restaurants in Guadalajara, then in 2013, moved to San Miguel de Allende. Jesus worked for chefs Donnie Masterton at The Restaurant, Marco Cruz  at Nomada and spent two years as the head chef at Matteo Salas’s restaurant, Áperi. He left Aperi to spent time in the kitchens of Chef Jonathan Gomez Luna at Le Chique, Chef Juan Emilio Villaseñor at La Cocinoteca, Chef Jesús Escalera at La Postreria and spent a season in L’astrance, a three Michelin star restaurant in Paris, with Chef Pascal Barbot. He opened Under the Table with Chef Mariana Gonzalez Gutierrez in 2018. They had their inaugural “Lucky 7” dinner at Casa Linnea, owned and operated by popular SMA chef Linnea Rufo.

Twenty five year old Mariana was born in Tijuana, Baja California and graduated from the Culinary Art School. She did an internship at Pujol when she was just nineteen and then went to Merida to work with a group of traditional Mexican cooks. She landed in San Miguel de Allende and started working in Aperi, first as Chef de partie, and then as Sous chef. Now, Chef Mariana Gonzales Gutierrez is co-owner of Under the Table, doing private dinners and pop-ups around San Miguel de Allende.

Note: Chef Jose Luis Vazquez and Sous chef Jose Cruz have joined the kitchens at San Mike Restaurante. We didn’t receive their resumes in time for publication.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Hottest New Restaurant Openings in San Miguel de Allende

Who said San Miguel de Allende is the place to eat? Well, actually, we did, along with just about everyone else we’ve talked with lately.
The best city in the world just got better with an influx of new restaurants and some Sunday brunch menus that we can’t stop talking about. Six hours from the beach, no problem. You can get fresh lobster for brunch at a price that’s less than the cost of a shuttle to the Queretaro airport. And next year, you’ll be able to dine on lobsters from Maine.
If you come to SMA for a month, you’ll still not get an across-the-board sampling of the menus and signature dishes created by SMA’s remarkable chefs; you need to stay longer. With popular restaurants like Aperi, Jacinto 1930, The Restaurant, Buenos Aires Bistro, Trazo 1810, El Vergel Bistro and Market, Trattoria da Laura a Los Mezquites, La Prada, MiVida, Quince, ZUMO, Antonia Bistro, Bui Cocina de Campo, along with these restaurants, the dining scene in San Miguel de Allende is hotter than ever.
                                            Chef Alan Carias of Trazo 1810
There’s a lot to be said for the variety of food here; you can now find almost every type of cuisine. Even selective Asian dishes are being created by Alan Carias, the incredible, young chef at Trazo 1810, ATRIO’s newest sensation, Chef Arturo Sandoval, and our favorite private chef, Michael Coon, who recently did an all-Asian dinner that sold out in less than ten minutes.
                                            Chef Greta Ortega Casanas of MiVida
Some current restaurants are changing up their menus, making them more interesting and affordable. We know of two that will make over their entire menus after the first of the year. Chef Greta Ortega Casanas of MiVida Restaurant recently redid her menu, replacing all but three items.
Two things have changed this past year. With a whole new category of fine-casual dining spots emerging, locals are dining out more often. Restaurant owners are also making decisions to improve the quality and consistency of the guest experience; they recognize that good service is a significant part of the equation.
                                                Adrian Garcia-Evans
San Miguel de Allende continues to advance its own style. A number of new artisans, an inspiring cocktail culture that includes Mixologists like Adrian Garcia-Evans, a budding wine scene, the influence of knowledgeable sommeliers like Chilean-born Sebastian Acosta Quiroz and a whole new generation of young chefs are all part of the upshot.

                                               Chef Marcela Bolaño, a former Top Chef Mexico contestant
San Miguel de Allende’s newest restaurants offer many things that other restaurants don’t. We’ve also included two existing restaurants: Nomada cocina de Interpretacion is in a new location at Hernandez Macias 88 and Marsala cocina con acentos celebrates their one year anniversary in December.

                                                                             Erik Figueroa of OCRE
Exciting openings will also take place over the next few months, and these are the ones we can talk about: San Mike’s, a Mexico City style taqueria complete with a sports bar, piano bar, cantina and rooftop restaurant; OCRE, a splendid old house filled with small, intimate spaces along with a Mixology Room that’s dedicated to the innovation and experimentation of drinks and one of the most highly-anticipated openings, FATIMA and Café Casablanca, inside the beautiful Casablanca Hotel.
Now don’t you think it’s about time you came down to San Miguel de Allende just to eat?
Buen Provecho!
ATRIO Restaurant and Lounge
Cuna de Allende #3

La Azotea's new fine-casual restaurant, ATRIO, is one of the best, new openings in 2017.

Jose Maria Calvo, Jesus Manuel Calvo
                                    Owners Jose Maria Calvo (Chema) and Jesus Manuel Calvo (Chus)

Chef Arturo Sandoval
                                                              Chef Arturo Sandoval
The kitchen has an oven that chefs would stand in line for, a Josper Charcoal Oven from Spain. Its high operating temperature and unique flavor from the embers are perfect for the Spanish rice dishes that ATRIO put on the menu, along with grilled seafoods and steaks.  

The Rib Rice, which we ate again last night, is our favorite dish.  ATRIO has an international menu and offers one of our favorite French dishes, Pato al Orange, which is Sous-vided and crisped in the Jasper oven. It’s the best duck we’ve had in Mexico, and we’ve eaten a lot of duck. The menu is small, with unlikely touches: the Burrata served with berries and Tacos Orientales Pan Boa al vapor, the Boas imported from Guadalajara. Ten main courses are featured on the menu, along with a host of incredible small plates. Twelve dishes into the menu, Chef Sandoval’s got a perfect score from our group. In fact, we can't decide which dish is our favorite; we LOVE them all.

The softshell crab taco with pico de gallo and red cabbage; the Ramen with pork belly in a slightly sweet, perfectly flavored broth; and the Argentinean version of Sweetbreads made with bacon, cream, white wine and leeks are all outstanding. The sweetbreads are rich but our favorite version to date. The dessert: a mandarin cheesecake with beet and watermelon radish; a dish that Eduardo Perez Calvo, of sister restaurant La Azotea, brought back from his pastry class in Guadalajara.
ATRIO Restaurant and Lounge is dazzling at night but equally beautiful in the daytime with all of its vegetation and Parroquia views.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 2:00 PM – 12:45 PM, Sunday 2:00 PM – 1:45 AM. Reservations are recommended. Phone: 415 688 1405
Canal #16
Las Vegas, London, LA, Miami, Chicago, or New York maybe but SMA?

The elegant design and concept for BOVINE was created by Bruce James and carried out by Architect Juan Pablo Gallegos. It will wow even the most avid food lover. It did me!
Upscale shops fill the stunning, downstairs spaces all the while upstairs, Chef Paul Bentley, along with Sous chefs Miguel Nuñez and Raul Partida, are creating remarkable things in the kitchen. From the delicious NY strip steak, with a flavorful sauce made from its own drippings, to the peach and tomato salad, a combination that's beyond delicious and fresh, to the 6-step papas fritas, we loved it all. The menu is delightfully uncomplicated, offering a limited number of selections that are all expertly prepared.
                                               Sous Chefs Miguel Nuñez and Raul Partida

In a restaurant this good, you expect great service and Bovine delivered once again. Veracruz born waiter Gabriel provided some of the best. He's part of the reason we'll return, along with the atmosphere, great food and another new, white wine that we LOVED, Casa Magoni 2016 Manaz, made by Italian born Camillo Magoni, who will oversee his 53rd harvest in Mexico this year. For his first 49 years in Mexico, he was the winemaker at L.A. Cetto.

We'll post more pictures of the food when we go back later this week to have lunch. Bovine is pricey but well worth the expense if you’re looking for top-quality food and attractive surroundings; it’s the European-style restaurant that SMA was missing until now. Bovine now has a private dining experience starting at $95.

Hours: Tuesday from 7:00 PM- 11:00 PM and Wednesday - Sunday, 1 PM - 11 PM. Closed Monday. Reservations are recommended. Phone: 415-121-6787.

Casa Buen Viaje
Cuna de Allende #15a

This small Mezcal tasting room and restaurant, from entrepreneurs Martin Lopez and Eugenio Maillerfert, has got a secret: one of the best chefs in SMA, Chef Marco Cruz of Nomada cocina de Interpretacion, develops their menu, which is executed by Sous Chef Juana Pérez Balderas. Don’t pass up the chilaquiles, along with a variety of great-looking tacos.

                                                                  Photo: Casa Buen Viaje
                                            Photo: Casa Buen Viaje
With the superior taste of Mezcal Buen Viaje and a state-of-the-art sound system, you can paint the town red well into the morning hours without craving any late night provisions: food, drink and music.

                                             Photo: Casa Buen Viaje
Buen Viaje also puts on special events in the countryside, complete with a BBQ made by Chef Cruz himself.
Hours: Sunday 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Monday and Wednesday – Friday 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM, Saturday 9:00 AM – 11:45 PM, Closed Tuesday.
Casa No Name
Hernandez Macias #52
Olivia Bar, at Casa No Name, a small, luxury hotel on Hernandez Macias #52, is no longer SMA's best kept secret. Here, you’re in your own little world; call it a safe haven from the tourist mayhem just a few blocks away. Now open to the public, this secret, enchanted garden and rooftop bar makes some of the best Margaritas in town. The décor is chic in an understated way and you wouldn’t be in a hurry to head home once you land. Come after 5:00 PM weekdays; on weekends, it’s populated with out-of-town hotel guests. Like most quiet bars, don’t go at peak periods for the truly peaceful experience. Olivia Bar is my home away from home. If you’ve ever needed a quiet spot for a cocktail, sinking into Olivia’s is the ideal place. 

Downstairs, in the hotel, you can enjoy breakfast every morning, even as an outside guest. Peek in the kitchen; it’s classic Mexican and charming.

                                                                         Chef Sofia Antillon
       Chef Marco Cruz
Nomada cocina de Interpretacion
Hernandez Macias 88, Centro, 37700
What keeps us going back to the restaurants we love? That’s simple, the food. It’s always about the food and in the case of Nomada, the food is some of the best in the city.These two chefs, Marco Cruz and Sofia Antillon, poured their heart and soul into their new restaurant, just like they do with their menus. You can choose breakfast, lunch or dinner; every item I've ordered has been fantastic. Chef Marco Cruz recently cooked a different version of Huevos Rancheros with a smoky, charred, tomato sauce and a Spanish egg and potato omelet. Chicken boring? Not Marco’s; just dark meat with loads of butter, salt and seasonings. After enjoying our favorite Pavlova for dessert, we watched Pastry Chef Sofia Antillon create a new dessert of sponge cake made with red beets. For the brunch menu, Chef Cruz grills lobsters as part of a special, multi-course tasting every Sunday.
Hours: 9 AM – 10 PM Daily/ Closed: Tuesday. Reservations recommended. Phone: 415 121 9163.
Marchanta Comedor
Nemesio Diez #2
We fell in love with this fine-casual restaurant by Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion the minute we tasted the Ramen. Who doesn’t love a bowl of expertly flavored broth with an oversized piece of impeccably seasoned meat?

Cesar Garcia, the new chef at Marchanta, trained with Chef Marco Cruz at La Estacion in Mexico City, which was started by Daniel Estebaranz of Bui, cocnia de campo, along with Chef-legend Enrique Olvera.
Featured on the menu are Pork Belly Tacos, Avocado with Tuna and the Pulpo. Our lunch: Marchanta's Fish and chips are a healthier combination of the Papalo herb from Puebla, in a tempura batter with Lovina whitefish, Zucchini and green beans. The chips are double fried and served with a homemade ketchup. You've got to love a restaurant that makes everything from scratch down to the ketchup and the mayo. The drink is a surprisingly delicious combination of green tea and strawberries.
Marchanta offers a street food menu on Monday.
Hours: Monday, Tuesday – Saturday 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Closed Sunday. Reservations recommended. Phone: 415 121 9163
Marsala cocina con acentos
Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias 48, Centro, 37700

This restaurant has eleven months under its belt and we’re still talking about it because they change the menu frequently, now offering fall comfort foods like Carbonara, Steak-frites and a Pretzel-crusted Schnitzel with mashed, russet potatoes. We love a chef who travels to eat and Chef Marcela Bolaño just got back from a culinary exploration trip in Europe. We had high expectations for her latest menu additions and, as usual, she did not disappoint.

Her brunch is one of the best you'll find in SMA, especially with the recent addition of stone crab to the menu. Also, don’t forget to drop in on Monday and ask about the Instagram special to receive 50% off your meal the following week.This team (Marcela Bolaño, a former Top Chef Mexico contestant, and Ximena De Leon Campomanes) is a tour-de-force. Together they have worked hard to make Marcela’s one of the best restaurants in SMA...and it is.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM/Friday and Saturday:1:00 PM – 11:00 PM/Sunday: 1 PM – 5 PM/ Closed Tuesday 
Reservations recommended. Phone: 415 152 0080
Nicasio Comedor Mexicano
Hidalgo #28

If you try one new restaurant this week, make it Nicasio Comedor Mexicano at Hidalgo #28. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best restaurants to open this year.
Nicasio Comedor Mexicano creates traditional, Mexican food; very HIGH QUALITY Mexican but the cost of all the dishes are priced under 120 pesos, with a few exceptions. Truly a down home experience, you’ll feel like you’re sitting in your own kitchen by the time you eat.
Chef Pablo Nicacio was the sous-chef at Nómada cocina de interpretación before he started Nicasio along with Chef Hugo Tepichin, a former chef at the Michelin 3 star restaurant Quique Dacosta in Dénia, Alicante, Spain. You’ll recognize partner Manny Flores from Nómada cocina de interpretación. All three partners also worked together at B’ui Cocina de Campo, in Otomi.

While we’re inside trying some of Nicasio’s newest dishes, Manny Flores was outside tending to their thriving garden. Using only the best ingredients available, Nicasio grows what they can on a small balcony just outside their back window.
Bite into the Torta de Lengua and you’re likely to get a big surprise. For someone who doesn’t like tongue, it was actually, really good. It’s boiled in a pan with secret spices and broth, then breaded and deep fried. For a Mexican breakfast, try the Chilaquiles with cecina, an egg and a spicy red sauce or if you have a taste for an American plate, dig into a stack of pancakes topped with a fried egg, flavorful bacon and ice cream. Yes, we did say ice cream and for us, anything that includes a scoop of ice cream, is at the top of our list.
Hours: Daily 9:00 AM – 7:30 PM. Closed Tuesday and Sunday. Phone: 415 145 9455
Panio Atelier Du Pain
Salida a Celaya 69, San Miguel de Allende

The new home of one of the best bakeries in Mexico, Panio Atelier Du Pain
is state-of-the-art. What's there to eat at the new restaurant inside this delightful bakery? Well, if you’re looking for the best Eggs Benedict in town, look no further. On top of two thin slices of Brioche is Canadian bacon, spinach, two poached eggs and the perfect amount of hollandaise sauce containing a small touch of vinegar. The signature Burnt bread soup is delicious with smoked bacon, cream, crispy bacon and toasted bread. We’ve also had the chicken Panini sandwich with caramelized red onions and a to-die-for spread of almond pesto, rumored to be Chef Matteo Salas’s recipe. The
prosciutto with green tomatoes is both unusual and addictive. Many of the items on the menu are around $100 pesos. We like dishes that are made with imagination and Panio’s menu is full of them. For dessert, there are so many great breads and pastries; you'll want to get one of everything. The only thing we think that Panio Atelier Du Pain needs is bigger trays.

Hours: Daily 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Phone: 415 152 2327.

These new restaurants are opening soon:

                                              Owners Antonio Marron and Eduardo Lopez Rivera
SAN MIKE Restaurante
Canal #18

Enter another fine casual dining spot to SMA’s growing restaurant scene: San Mike Restaurante. Developed by Mexico City restaurant entrepreneurs, Antonio Marron and Eduardo Lopez Rivera. This Mexico City style taqueria, sports bar, piano bar, cantina and rooftop restaurant are housed in a refurbished, 18th century house, recently completed by renowned architect Robero Burillo. The house has been under construction for over a year.

The principal players include owners Antonio Marron and Eduardo Lopez Rivera, Chef Jose Luis Vazquez, Sous Chef Jose Cruz, Manager Ana Rivera, Captain Waiter Aldo Moreno and Head of Bar Carlos Mendez.
An authentic, Mexico City style taqueria will be on the ground floor. From the large windows opening to Canal Street, you can watch the show every night from 8:00 PM until late night to accommodate partygoers who are looking for an after-hours feast after the magic of the fiesta. Surprisingly, tacos al pastor are $18 pesos each; a salted steak taco will run you $40 pesos. You can also opt for specialty tacos – short rib mole, pork belly, and baja shrimp are $190 pesos. Most items on the main course menu – from Chicken with Mole to Breaded Tenderloin run around $300 pesos along with Salmon, Octopus and Tuna. A steak – a Sonora style Ribeye Steak - peaks at $480 pesos. There are also a variety of great Tortas - from Proscuitto to Pork Belly – that are all about $150 pesos.

Whether it’s World Cup soccer or a Cubs baseball game, the ground floor will be the place to watch sports. There are TV’s on every floor, providing a wide variety of sports options.

On the second floor, a beautiful, black piano will be the heart of the Cantina Saloon, seating ten lucky clients who will get an up-close-and- personal with the Bohemian style piano music every Thursday through Sunday.

The Terraza, on the top floor, has magnificent views and sunsets to complement a dinner under the stars or gather a group of friends to cozy around the fire pit to sip premium spirits.

Every floor has its own bar service with original and classic cocktails. San Mike favors the regional wine bodegas, plus a variety of labels with an excellent cost to quality balance. A refreshing surprise for those who love their cocktails: a 2x1 offering of selected spirits that will run all day long, 24/7. San Mike will serve Mexican wines and also carry brands from Spain, Argentina, and Italy. They have a sommelier that will be doing tastings and dinners during the year.

You will be able to order anything off the menu on all three floors. Some of the things San Mike’s will offer are family style botanas to start your meals, complete with a cart that offers eight different chiles for made-at-your-table salsas of various heats and flavors. Much to the delight of beer drinkers, San Mike’s will offer the beer bucket, filled with 6 pony size, ice cold Coronas and other Mexican beers, reminiscent of the pails you get at a beach resort in Mexico.

We’re excited about San Mike’s, an entirely new concept for SMA. With items on the menu from $18 pesos (Tacos al Pastor) to $890 pesos (roasted beef rib to share), it’s a restaurant for every budget.

San Mike’s will open December 1st.

Hours: Mon-Fri  1:00 PM – 1:00 AM  / Sat 10:00 AM – 2:00 AM  /  Sun  10:00 AM – 10:00 PM. The Taqueria will be open until 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday.
Hidalgo #5
                                                    Partners Erik Figueroa and Jorge Levario

OCRE, a new, Mexican fine casual restaurant, will open at Hidalgo #5, above Artesanías Alcatráz, which will also be remodeled as part of the project and will be connected to the restaurant. OCRE is a gem among the fine casual restaurants that continue to give rise to a SMA restaurant scene that gets more interesting by the day.

You’ll fall in love with the small, intimate spaces that will make your eating and drinking experience here remarkably personal. Ocher: Artists in SMA will know its definition; it has traditionally been used as a pigment for artistic and body painting and dates back to prehistoric times. A base color that gives different shades to other colors, that’s what partners Erik Figueroa and Jorge Levario seek for the flavors in their kitchen, under the creative direction of San Luis Potosí chef Xavier Pinero, who will explore different styles and techniques from numerous parts of the world. It will be a kitchen connected to the land; to Mexico’s roots with local, natural and organic products.

Chef Xavier Piñero says of his cooking “I have never been a person who follows the rules; I never liked it. I find it more appealing to do my own thing. I do not like to complicate my life; my motto is “less is more.” My kitchen, as my person, is straightforward.” I’m in love with the kitchen, which includes a fireplace that’s been converted to a pizza oven. It looks like an old farmhouse kitchen with large, white archways defining the space. I can totally visualize my own grandmother cooking in it.

 The vistas from the rooftop are extensive, as are the views from the oversized window inside a handsome, black and white bar that seats a cozy number of eight. Tacos, Tostadas and Tamales pepper the menu of entrees with organic vegetables, fresh seafood, aguachile and meats. I love figs so I’m most anxious to try the Tartine of figs: peasant bread made in a wood oven with ricotta cheese, caramelized figs, smoked bacon and roasted tomato jam. If that sounds good, just look to the Wood and Fire section of the menu which includes Gizzard, Pizzas and Oysters, including Ostión kumamoto of Laguna Manuela smoked with hot sauce and fresh dill. A perfect entrée to life on the half shell, a kumamoto is defined by its small size and incredibly smooth flavor. Oyster heads consider them to be one of the best oysters around.From the garden section, you’ll find a fresh salads that include wood roasted and caramelized organic fruits and vegetables; notably black truffles. The specials consist of free grazing beefs, BBQ Muscovy duck from Ajijic (know for great-tasting lean meat, most often compared to veal or a roast beef) and Sea Bass. I was also particularly attracted to the main courses, which includes Oxtail, Suckling pig, Octopus from Ensenada, Striped Sea Bass and Rancho 17’s Rib eye.

The Mixology Room by Diageo is a private room with a unique menu created by Diageo's best Bartenders and Mixologist from Mexico and around the world. Diageo Reserve brands, the luxury portfolio of Diageo, are the best-performing collection of spirit brands in the Drink’s International Bar Report 2017 for the second year in a row.The space will be dedicated to the innovation and experimentation of drinks. On the weekends, OCRE will feature DJs from different cities in Mexico, as well as guest Mixologists.

Intimate and inviting, OCRE will be the perfect setting for celebrating your New Years Eve. The opening is scheduled for December, 2017.
FATIMA and Café Casablanca

             The ever casual Chef Donnie Masterton in his University of Marrakech T-shirt
Inside the stunningly beautiful Casablanca Hotel, Chef Donnie Masterton will launch his newest restaurant, FATIMA, along with Cafe Casablanca, in February 1, 2018. This sensational, new complex, is one of the most highly-anticipated openings in SMA. The restaurant and cafe will be #5 and #6 in Chef Masterton's culinary crown, along with The Restaurant, El Vergel Bistro and Market, Birdie's Burgers and Taco Lab.

The experience of seeing the 300 year old hacienda for the first time was transcendental; everything the mere mention of Morocco brings to mind. I saw it in the daylight and can only imagine how magical it's going to be at night, under the stars, awash in candlelight. The renovation to the hacienda revealed tunnels connecting to the nearby San Francisco church along with some centuries-old architectural treasures. Custom made in Marrakech, much of the furniture, art, lighting and textiles were transported to SMA and promise to make the transformation of the hacienda worth the wait when it opens in 2018.

I went back again last week for a second look. The chef was excited as construction crews have started to install his kitchens; the heart and soul of the restaurant. One of the many exciting features of the new restaurant will be a raw bar, with an assortment of seafood from Baja. He will eventually bring in live lobster from Maine.
On this rooftop, you're surrounded by the city's nearby churches; six of them to be exact. The views are breathtaking; we think some of the best in the city considering you can see so many of the domes and towers.

The Mediterranean menu will follow the Moorish trail - Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia and all the rest - incorporating the use of a custom built tagine stove, a deck oven for flat breads and pita, a wood burning grill and a rotisserie. Chef Masterton's Lamb Shawarma Tacos, a dish that everyone fell in love with at Sabores San Miguel, will be on the menu.

Chef Masterton has hired a new head chef who is highly experienced in Mediterranean cuisine; one he previously worked with in San Francisco. Jorge Flores from The Restaurant, who is currently managing Birdies Burgers and Taco Lab, will assume the position of Manager of FATIMA and Cafe Casablanca.

Chef Masterton continues to staff for positions at both FATIMA and Café Casablanca.