Chef Jorge Vallejo

Chef Jorge Vallejo

Chef Jorge Vallejo and his wife Alejandra Flores are the power couple behind Mexico City’s incredibly successful restaurant Quintonil, the current number 11 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Their restaurant serves contemporary Mexican cooking and proudly advocates the use of products from the nation’s incredibly rich food heritage. 

After graduating from culinary school Chef Jorge started his career in Madrid at two Michelin-starred Santceloni, he then headed to the seas for Princess Cruises, after that made his way back to Mexico to become Enrique Olivera’s protege at Pujol, left for a quick stint at Noma in Copenhagen and decided to open Quintonil in 2012. The restaurant made its debut on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list at number 35 in 2015 and jumped to 12th place in 2016, making it the list’s highest-ranking Mexican restaurant to date.

We had the pleasure of asking the famed Mexican chef a few quick questions about his work, his past, his present and his beloved country. 

If there is one thing you could teach the world about Mexico and its food culture, what would it be?

“That there aren’t any minor ingredients: even with the simplest vegetables you can do wonders. I also rescue traditional Mexican cooking techniques such as tatemado or nixtamalization, these are extraordinary.””

What is the best thing about living and working in D.F.?

“That you can find practically all the kitchens of all the states of the republic in one place. As well as those of the rest of the world. It’s a universe in which you find multiple cultural manifestations and where you never get bored.”

You spent some time at sea cooking aboard Princess Cruise Lines early on in your career. What is the biggest thing you learned cooking on open waters?

  “To work under pressure, in an organized way, to cook for many people and to give results.”

Born and Raised in?

“In Mexico City.”

What made you decide to become a chef?

“The fact that I love to eat.”

Did you go to culinary school?

“Yes, I studied at the Ambrosia Culinary Center. A solid formation is important, but to have good results, rigor, discipline and a permanent desire to improve are necessary.”

What is the biggest misconception about Mexican food according to you?

“That everything is greasy and excessively spicy.”

Which country has the most underrated cuisine you think? 

“I don’t think it’s an issue of being underrated, at this very moment in time, we – and many other kitchens around the world – are going through a change where the local chefs are finally taking the value they deserve. It’s only a matter of time before everyone knows and values them as well.”

If you hadn’t become a chef, what do you think your life would look like right now, what do you think would you be doing?

“I wanted to be a veterinarian actually.” 

When are you happiest?

“When I’m working in the restaurant, at home with my family or riding my bike.” 

What’s your absolute favorite dish to make?

“Roasted Chicken. Simple.” 

How do you come up with new recipes? 

“Motivation comes from many things: from the ingredients themselves, from everyday work, from a memory, from an experience…”

What is the number 1 ingredient that makes any recipe better?

“The endless search for flavor.”

What would you want your last supper to be?

“A roasted chicken.”

Biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the kitchen?

“Not asking enough questions and taking too much for granted.”

What advice would you give a starting chef?

“Don’t wait for things to happen, you have to work hard to achieve your goals. Never stop dreaming and do everything in your power to accomplish them.”

When in Mexico City there’s no doubt one must try to book a seat at Quintonil.
Before heading over make sure to find Chef Vallejo and his restaurant on social media, if only just to be in awe of the incredible masterpieces you’ll be served when dining in this Polanco district gem. To give one of Quintonil’s signature dishes a try for yourself, scroll down to find the full recipe for Chef Vallejo’s famous Charred Avocado Tartare with Escamoles (Ant Larvae)!

 

 

 

QUINTONIL
Av. Isaac Newton 55, Polanco,
Polanco IV Secc,
11560 Ciudad de México,
CDMX, Mexico
+52 55 5280 1660
www.quintonil.com

 

Charred Avocado Tartare, “Escamoles” and Herb Chips

Chef Jorge Vallejo and his wife Alejandra Flores are the power couple behind Mexico City’s incredibly successful restaurant Quintonil, the current number 11 on the World’s 50 Best list. Their restaurant serves contemporary Mexican cooking and proudly advocates the use of products from the nation’s incredibly rich food heritage. The restaurant made its debut on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list at number 35 in 2015 and jumped to 12th place in 2016, making it the list’s highest-ranking Mexican restaurant to date...
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat

Ingredients

Sherry Vinaigrette
25 g – Sherry Vinegar
50 g – Olive oil
2 g – Salt

Dehydrated Sorrel Leaf with Banana Vinegar
50 g – Sorrel, leaves only
25 g – Banana Vinegar

Brown Butter with Chile and Garlic
125 g – Butter
30 g – Garlic in Brunoise
30 g – Onion in Brunoise
30 g – “Chile Serrano” in Brunoise (without veins or seeds)

Fried Kale
Kale
Oil

For the plating
280 g – “Escamoles”
2 pieces – Avocado
10 g – Sherry Vinaigrette
2 pieces – “Chile Serrano” in Brunoise
10 g – Onion in Brunoise
5 g – Chopped “Epazote”
20 g – Brown Butter with “Chile” and Garlic
10 g – Fried Kale
10 g – Dehydrated Sorrel with Banana Vinegar 50 g – Onion Powder
50 g – Spinach Powder
1 piece – Serrano Chile sliced
1 piece – Cambray Onion in hoops
1 piece – Lime Zest
15 g – Salt

Instructions

Sherry Vinaigrette
1. Put vinegar with salt in a bowl.
2. Beat with a balloon whisk and slowly add the Olive Oil until everything is emulsified.

Dehydrated Sorrel Leaf with Banana Vinegar
1. Put vinegar and sorrel leaves in a vacuum bag, seal and let stand for 3 hours until the vinegar impregnates the leaves.
2. Drain it.
3. Spread the leaves in a tray with waxed paper and put in the oven at 100oC for one hour with the fan at maximum speed.
4. Remove from the oven.

*If you don’t have a fan, bake for 2 hours, take them out, and when they cool, they should be crispy.

Brown Butter with Chile and Garlic
1.Heat the butter over medium heat in a pot until it reaches 135o C.
2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
3. Once the impurities settle, decant the liquid.
4. Sauté the garlic, onion and “chile serrano” with the clarified butter, taking care that the garlic does not burn.
5. Let solidify.

Fried Kale
1. Fry the leaves in oil at 100oC.
2. Drain and add salt.

For the plating:
1. Cut the avocado into cubes 0.5 centimeters thick.
2. Place in a steel container with the onion and burn with a blowtorch.
3. In a pan, melt the butter with “chile” and garlic and sauté the “escamoles” and season.
4. Add the “escamoles” to the bowl with avocado and add the chopped epazote.
5. Mix everything with the sherry vinaigrette.
6. Sprinkle powders on the plate in a circular pattern, leaving the center clear.
7. Place a metal ring and add avocado tartar and escamoles in the center.
8. Finish with fried kale, dehydrated sorrel, onion rings and slices of serrano pepper.
9. Grate lime zest with a microplane on the tartar preparation.

Buen Provecho!
Chef Jorge Vallejo
Quintonil

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