Inspiring the team at Villa del Palmar Cancun’s tempting modern steakhouse, La Casona STK, Mexican chef, Jose Luis Robles serves up the finest cuts and most succulent dishes showcasing his natural flair for crafting fine dining experiences.
Read what the chef had to tell us in our short interview:
Where did your passion for cooking begin?
I was inspired to cook from a very early age. I am the eldest of the family and would help prepare meals for my family. My grandfather was a chef too, although I am the only one to follow in his footsteps. His passion for the kitchen was contagious.
How did you come to work at Villa del Palmar Cancun?
After graduating from the University of Hidalgo where I studied gastronomy, I worked my way up the ranks in a number of hotels. The first hotel I worked at was the Presidente International in Polanco, Mexico City, and with the Presidente group I moved up quickly to Chef de Partie and Master. This gave me the opportunity to work in other cities in Mexico, including Puebla, Morelia, Monterrey, Guadalajara, all of which are renowned for their cuisine and excellent fine dining options. I was then invited to Cuernavaca as sous chef to Italian chef Fulvio Ferreto, with whom I had worked at Presidente and the Alfredo de Roma chain. Fulvio later came to lead the kitchen at Davino, and I contacted him about opportunities at the hotel.
How would you describe yourself and your culinary arts?
I love traditional recipes, but I also love to create new flavors and experiment with new dishes, always making sure that the the flavors are authentic and the presentation is attractive, creating a delicious dish. You could say I’m am a specialist in Mexican and Italian cuisine, as well as French, but I like to think myself as international. I am also interested in new techniques like molecular cuisine, using foams, gels and mousses.
How does your talent shine in La Casona?
Well, in La Casona, the true art is in the product itself. Being a fine dining steakhouse, the meat is of the highest quality and the way the meat is prepared even before cooking is really important to the flavor you will enjoy. For example I process the meat, cutting it into the ideal portions, and I tenderize it myself; that is, we don’t depend on a butcher, we do it ourselves to ensure the finest taste. There is an art to cutting the meat so that it is at its best when cooked and served. This means that we can ensure the meat is in the optimum conditions to create the high quality dishes for which La Casona is renowned, giving those tender, melt-in-the-mouth experiences. Freshness is key to making an impact on the tastebuds.
What attracted you to work with Tafer Hotels & Resorts group at Villa del Palmar Cancun?
The opportunity to grow and the way the company supports the development of its chefs; they provide really good training, and I keep learning news things every day. As chef patron of La Casona, I am given the freedom to get involved with the business side of the restaurant too, given free reign to choose personnel, organize training sessions, choose products, prepare new menus and administer the costs etc, like you were running your own restaurant. I am also involved with following the comments on TripAdvisor and how we are evaluated by our clients. There are so many factors and I enjoy the responsibility and freedom of being able to run the restaurant like an independent entity within the resort.
What kind of cuisine is your specialty?
My background is in Italian cuisine; for example, I make my own fresh pasta, and I have worked with some of the best Italian chefs while working in Alfredo de Roma in Mexico City. However, at the moment I am really enjoying the detail and the care that is involved with working so closely and so intensely with meat at La Casona.
What dishes would you recommend for guests to try?
Well, apart from the short rib, which has a really buttery taste thanks to our careful preparation of the meat and the slow cooking over 12 hours with herbs, we also we have the King, which is a choice American steak 240g / 8 lbs, which is really tender and delicious. The Barbecue Ribs, which is a signature dish of La Casona, and the different cuts like rib eye and aged meats are really popular too. Oh and kobe, this is another really delicious dish that we import. Kobe is a Japanese meat that is really really tender.