CHEF TALK - LUIS RONZÓN
We visited the cheerful and welcoming Luis Ronzón, Executive Chef at Ixi’im, the newest edition to the Yucatan’s growing culinary scene, located at the beautiful Chablé Resort & Spa, Prix Versailles winner of 2017.
Luis is one of Mexico’s young, talented chefs, shaping the future of Mexican cuisine. He started in accounting but quickly swapped his calculator for knives and set off on a journey to learn from the best schools and restaurants around the world. He’s spent time internationally at innovative restaurants such as Noma (Copenhagen) and Malabar (Peru), where the experiences honed his gastronomic skills and understanding for local sourcing and native produce.
After working closely with his mentor Jorge Vallejo at award-winning restaurant Quintonil in Mexico City, he was offered the opportunity to head the restaurant at Chablé in early 2017.
What is your inspiration?
I’m inspired by the surrounding area. The locals in the village, in which the Hacienda and restaurant is located, grow incredible produce in their milpas. They show me local cooking techniques and uses of unique ingredients. We also grow a lot of our produce in ka'anché’s (traditional elevated compost-filled seedbeds that keep the plants safe from animals). The menu is very much farm-to-table and therefore driven by the seasons.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Jorge Vallejo has been a teacher and a mentor to me, not only in cooking but in life, besides being a great chef he is an amazing human being, he has taught me discipline, commitment, passion and a love for cooking.
What trends are happening in Mexican cuisine in 2017?
Four Mexican restaurants are listed in the world’s best restaurant list sponsored by San Pellegrino in the latest edition, many other restaurants are opening all over the country and everyone is contributing to reinforce the gastronomic movement.
After several years of hard work, “El Valle” in Baja California is now a gastronomic destination, Guadalajara is on it's way, as well as Monterrey. In Riviera Maya there are more and more restaurants opening, and now here we are in the Yucatán peninsula trying to create a gastronomic destination. And certainly this is because people are becoming more interested in what they eat and where the ingredients come from, that makes us get involved throughout the farming process, which is wonderful! That's exactly what we love to do.
Do you have any favourite ingredients to work with?
Lima (citrus fruit), cilantro (coriander) and ginger.
What are your thoughts on the future of food?
I believe we need to learn to consume local and to take care of food waste. Tons of food goes to waste every day in markets. We need to learn to get all the best from the ingredients, whether it’s cheap or expensive produce. The focus needs to be on what we have in our surroundings, therefore the dining experiences will change according to the place you are dining in. Otherwise you will have tuna whether you are in a city, near the sea or in the mountains, before consuming local.
Which is your favourite restaurant and why?
It’s a Taqueria actually, Los Cocuyos, located in Mexico City’s “Centro Histórico”, you’ll find the best suadero (fried beef) and tongue tacos ever, actually it’s the one thing I miss from Mexico City. As you know I moved to Mérida some months ago and discovered an extraordinary restaurant, I would say it’s my favourite right now, Apoala.