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Chef Jorge Vallejo: Redefining Mexican Cuisine, Part 2


This is the second installment in a two-part interview with chef Jorge Vallejo. You can find the first installment here.

The Daily Meal: You were on the team that designed the Mexican pavilion at Expo Milano this year. How did you get involved in the project?
Jorge Vallejo: There were about 40 projects submitted from all over Mexico and each project had a chef, an artist, and a biologist on them and I was one of the chefs. Our team was fortunate to be selected as the best and our design concept was used for the Expo Milano. I have not visited yet but I was also asked to curate a menu from the dishes of other chefs in Mexico to give an overall view of Mexican gastronomy, and my dish is a crab tostada.

Why did you choose a tostada?
I believe that a tostada just like a taco—not just a dish but a true expression of our Mexican food and way of eating casually; it is something that you can find everywhere and is very representative of our culture. A tostada to me personally is like a carpet that can feature any kind of food, you can put anything on it like seafood, meat, chicken, vegetables, and you can be creative. The tiny delicious crabs I like to use are from Ensenada on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

What foods are you partial to?
I am partial to seafood since in Mexico, we have access to some great fish from the oceans surrounding our country. I love the fish from Oaxaca, Ensenada, and even California. I not only enjoy cooking with them but also eating this kind of food.

What are your other interests, and where do you hangout on your day off?
I love cycling, running, and I love to be outdoors after being cooped up in the kitchen so I usually head to Chapultepec park, a few blocks from my home. I enjoy seeing all the people relaxing in the park, which also has some great museums. One place I like to hang out these days is Lalo, the new casual eatery by my friend chef Eduardo Garcia, who also owns Maximo Bistrot.

The essence of our city is in our street food and I love to indulge in it. It's also very interesting to see how street food is evolving and they are making some great new things. Taquerias are my favorite places to eat because our city has the best tacos in all of Mexico, and tacos are available every day just about everywhere. They are what our people love to eat as they are fantastic.

As chefs become more renowned, does ego start to overtake true creativity?
There is a risk of that but it is important to keep it in check and only concentrate on creating the best experience and most delicious food. I still think and cook as I have always done and plan to stay that way.

Is the new generation of young chefs, like yourself, responsible for the international attention on your cuisine?
I don't think I am so young [laughs] since I started cooking at sixteen and have been cooking for longer than 16 years now. Of course the climate in the industry is different and we are progressing at a much faster rate and so is our restaurant industry.

Are young chefs playing up the fun elements of Mexican cuisine?
Yes for sure, all of us young cooks are thinking about such elements while we celebrate our produce and are respectful of our traditions. We are actively involved with the producers of our ingredients on a personal level so we can encourage and help them to keep doing it. Sometimes economics plays a role and if they cannot make enough money they go off in search of other work. We want to encourage them by using what they grow so they do not abandon their traditional way of farming.


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Chef Spotlight: Val Cantu

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred Californios is bringing his inventive Mexican cuisine from San Francisco to New York.

On November 8, chef Val Cantu of two-Michelin-starred Californios will bring his modern Mexican cuisine to New Yorkers for his residency kick-off at Chefs Club.

“At Californios, our style of cooking is market focused, seasonal cuisine through a Mexican lens,” Cantu says of his cooking ethos. A nightly tasting menu of some 16 courses is served at his 24-seat restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Beyond that, the core of our philosophy is designing dishes that maximize deliciousness and pleasure.”

Born and raised in central Texas, Cantu grew up in a household where food was at the forefront—his father owned a Mexican restaurant and tortilleria. Though he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Cantu chose the path of culinary arts, working at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin.

He then moved to The City by the Bay, staging at Benu and Saison before landing at Sons & Daughters, where he was on staff when the restaurant earned its first star. “From that moment, I set out to understand what the difference in the categories are,” he says of the MICHELIN Guide. “I believe that the core of the guide is encouraging excellence, deliciousness and hospitality. The MICHELIN Guide is the standard bearer for rating international cuisine.”

Cantu eventually struck out on his own, hosting a series of pop-up dinners while looking to secure a more permanent space Californios officially opened for business in early 2015. Much acclaim soon followed for the haute eatery run by Cantu, his wife, Carolyn, and his sister-in-law Charlotte Randolph. Michael Bauer gave Californios three stars for his early review in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the restaurant was designated with a Michelin star in the 2016 San Francisco guide, joining the ranks with Chicago’s Rick Bayless and New York’s Cosme Aguilar to boast a Mexican restaurant with the accolade.

His favorite thing to cook? Tortillas. For his restaurant, he sources the masa from a sibling farming team in nearby Santa Rosa. “When I’m making tortillas, I feel connected at a root level to Mexican cuisine,” he shares. “It reminds me of making tortillas with my grandmother [and] dad and what is special about Mexican cuisine.”

Pop-ups and events still resonate with chef Cantu, who has both hosted and been a part of several collaboration dinners over the years. This summer, Cantu hosted a Michelin On the Road dinner with Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo in Mexico City, preparing dishes that represent both chefs’ styles of cooking using ingredients from the city’s sprawling Central Market.

“We try to only do events that are special or worth our time,” he says. “Cooking with Jorge in Mexico City . was a huge deal.” It was Vallejo and team’s warm hospitality that reminded Cantu why he started cooking altogether. “I stopped to pause and think. After so much hard work, it’s rewarding to create food together.”

Bringing his inventive Mexican fare to Chefs Club was a no-brainer.

“We are excited to cook at Chefs Club to share with New York a little bit of what we do,” says Cantu. “Our goal is to share our perspective and the flavors we love.” Guests can look forward to things like tres frejoles of aerated royal corona bean mousse with golden osetra caviar—a Californios signature dish—and Monterrey abalone in Mexican rice on the menu. “The menu for the Chefs Club dinners was designed to showcase some dishes that were highlights when they were on our menu at Californios,” he adds. “A couple of them are very similar but most of them are new versions that will be fun for us to execute.”

During his downtime in The Big Apple, Cantu’s dining escapades range from a meal at three-Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to the uber casual Katz’s deli. (His go-to order is the Reuben, matzoh ball soup and extra pickles.) He’s also going on a New York City pizza expedition, hitting up Carlo Mirarchi’s Roberta’s in Bushwick. “I’ve [also] been told that I can’t miss Prince Street Pizza,” he says.

“Cooking anywhere other than your home base is always a challenge,” he continues. “As a chef, I believe it is important to continuously challenge yourself. Forcing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone [while] in a new setting with different equipment makes you think on your feet and gives you that burst of adrenaline that we all felt when we started cooking. That energy is refreshing, and when I return to Californios, I’m always excited to be back and ready to express and explore something new.”


Watch the video: Mexico Citys Chef Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil (December 2021).