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#2 – PMG&GC Featured Chefs: The Chefs of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

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Above any other hospitality company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has established itself as the standard-bearer of excellence when it comes to the culinary arts. Their hotels and resorts, above any others, have elevated hotel dining to an art form, and their chefs are among the most celebrated in the world.

Here in Mexico, the tradition continues, and we are fortunate to have a team of five of these masters participating in the Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic 2011:

Philippe Piel Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita

Philippe Piel, the recently appointed Executive Chef of Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, was born in Fougères, France.
At 16 he decided to transform his passion for food into a career and started an internship in one of the best restaurants of his home town, “Les Voyageurs” from which he received his Certificate of Professional Aptitude (CAP) in classical cuisine, in 1987.
He then journeyed to South England to learn English and game cooking, the specialty of the “Old Manor House Restaurant” in Romsey. In 1991, he crossed the Atlantic to work in Bermuda at “Cambridge Beaches”, the first luxury cottage colony club on the island. Piel then took another challenge and joined Accor Asia Pacific as Executive Chef of the Hotel Sofitel Cambodiana from 1994 to1996 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where he was asked to cook for his majesty, Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia. During this period, Piel also completed additional training in Melbourne, Australia and worked at the Malaysian Airline catering kitchen in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to open and run the “Royal Air Cambodge” airline catering division.
In 1996, he moved to Indonesia to open the Novotel Benoa Bali as Executive Chef and became member of Bali’s Toques Blanches Chef Association, organizing cooking and training programs for culinary students and professional chefs. In 1998, Chef Piel moved to Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, South America as Executive Chef of Hotel Sofitel Santa Clara where he remained until August 2001.
In September, Philippe Piel returned to Europe to train at the restaurant Le Buerehiesel, a Relais & Chateau restaurant in Strasbourg under Mr. Antoine Westermann, a Michelin three-star chef. In October 2001 he relocated to Washington, D.C. to accept his role as the Executive Chef for the pre-opening of the Sofitel Lafayette Square in the nation’s capital and to open “Café 15” together with Westermann and his sous chef as consultant.
After 7 years in Washington D.C, Piel made the decision to join Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and start a new challenge at Punta Mita, Mexico.

Jorge González, Aramara, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita

“You’d better learn to cook, or you’re not going to survive.” Jorge Gonzalez’s mother had a way with words. And so he did, taking her counsel to heart and mastering the deceptively simple art of cheese enchiladas, which she stuffed with onions and slathered with red sauce.
You won’t find cheese enchiladas on the menu at Aramara at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, México, but you will find Chef Gonzalez’s “Chino Latino” fusion cuisine, or, as he puts it, “Asian dishes with Latin flair, or vice versa. There’s a lot of room for creativity.”
Gonzalez brings much to the kitchen in Punta Mita. Schooled in the culinary arts in his hometown of Guadalajara, he entered the profession when cooking was still considered more a job than an art in México. With that perception now evolved, he draws inspiration from former mentors as well as from the ingredients, which he secures from small regional producers he describes as “organic by default,” thanks to optimum growing conditions around the Resort.
“You have to understand the product and respect the ingredient before you can get creative,” he says. “Run your hands through the soil watch the fish swimming and cut it to experience the freshness. That’s the quality we have to show.”
Gonzalez knows a lot about quality and creativity. In 2006, he placed first in a national Young Mexican Chefs competition, crafting contemporary Mexican dishes including a dazzling seared lion’s claw scallop appetiser. The victory won him a turn in the kitchen of Ferran Adrià, arguably the world’s greatest chef and the visionary behind molecular gastronomy.
“My dream was always to cook with someone so important,” Gonzalez recalls of his month-long stint at Adrià’s restaurant, El Bulli, in Roses, Spain. “The experience opened my mind that everything is possible. Copying isn’t key to success in cooking – opening your mind is.”

José Salas Duarte, Ketsi, Four Seasons, Punta Mita

Although born in the north of Mexico, Salas grew up in Mexico City, where he discovered a calling to the kitchen from a young age, helping in the family business — a small seafood restaurant. He then completed his culinary studies at the Culinary and Gastronomy Institute in Mexico.

Chef Salas spent his early professional years in his native city and joined Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City in 1994, when the Four Seasons Hotels Company decided to open his first hotel in Latin America. Gaining experience in all food preparation areas he was promoted up, ultimately becoming Chef de Partie.

In 1999 Salas joined Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in its opening, as Sous Chef. He worked in all the restaurants of the Resort including banquets, at various times. In 2003 he was transferred to Four Seasons Resort Carmelo, Uruguay, promoted as Resort Chef.

Salas returned to Mexico, and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in 2006 to be part of the project of re-launching the Ketsi Restaurant, and in this process, redefining traditional Mexican cuisine into a modern approach while still respecting recipes, culture and traditions.

Raul Lucido, Restaurante Bahia, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita

Born in Mexico City in 1977, Lucido studied at the Universidad Anahuac del Sur in Mexico City, completing their Certificate program with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1998.
Raul’s first job was with the famous Mexican Chef Monica Patiño at her Restaurant “La Taberna del Leon”. After a couple of months Raul had the chance to go to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1999 and took the opportunity to study pastries there as well.
Returning to Mexico City in 2000, he then joined IMAN restaurant as Sous Chef, working with Australian Chef Matthew Crabbe on classic European cuisine, while utilizing  Asian techniques.  In 2001 he moved to a small Italian Restaurant, followed by a move to Lyon, France in 2022, where he studied at the Institute Paul Bocuse for a 3 months training in Contemporary French Cuisine.
In 2003 Raul journeyed to San Sebastian, Spain to work at Karlos Arguiñano’s Restaurant, considered one of the masters of Spanish culinary traditions, especially in Basque cooking.
This was followed by a move to Mexico’s Pacific Coast, where Lucido worked as Chef Garde Manger for the Mayan Resorts.
After 6 months he took the opportunity to join Punta Mita’s Four Seasons team and start as a Jr. Sous chef. After six years working at the Resort in various positions, Raul is now the head chef at Bahia Ocean Grill, one of the busiest restaurants at Four Seasons Punta Mita.

Francisco Vazquez, Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City

Chef Vazquez has 14 years’ experience working in Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City.
After he joined Four Seasons in 1997, he had the opportunity to  compete at Abastur, finishing in second place in the plated desserts competition. Following this, he went on to participate in various other competitions, as well as taking additional courses in pastry and bakery. In 2006, he was asked to become a judge in this prestigious competition. In 2007, he relocated to Four Seasons Costa Rica as Pastry Chef. In 2008 he was honored with a first place win in the Latin American Pastry Competition,  against participants from 12 countries. This win earned him a place to train in Layer, France with French master chocolate and sugar specialty pastry chefs. In 2009 he returned from France to Mexico, where he won first place in pastries, representing Mexico against American destinations in 2010 where he won the first again and the opportunity to participate in the 2011 Pastry World Cup in Lyon, France as a judge and coach of the Mexican pastry team. He is a member of the Vatel Club Mexico.


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