I know that today is Cinco de Mayo and that I should be writing about my favorite guacamole or taco, but to be honest living in Mexico it’s not that big of deal as it is in the states. Sure, today marks the day of the Mexican army’s short-lived victory against the French in 1862 in the town of Puebla, but no you folks from the US, it is not Mexico’s 4th of July. Perhaps the fact that this victory was short lived is why Mexico does not celebrate the holiday. However, Mexican’s do not need an excuse to party and drink a margarita. They pretty much find a way to celebrate life everyday with family and friends and typically do so with food.
So today, in honor of celebrating with family and friends I want to write about my latest dinner party I had last Friday for eight people at Residencias Reef. Residencias is one of my favorite places to cook, relax and play (perhaps a bit biased as my mother in-law owns a condo and I have vacationed there myself several times). Residencias is located south of town in Cozumel set right on the ocean, offering sunset views and of course beautiful balconies where one can dine.
I was hired by a group of people to cook in the condo Palati Mou (a beautiful pent-house/ condo owned by friends of mine), a mix of family and friends, some from the North East in the states, others from England, but the one thing these folks had in common was their love of food. I was immediately impressed with the knowledge these individuals had of the food industry….naming who’s who, famous restaurants, books and more. For me, this is what excites me the most about cooking is the dialog that I have found with food and who it “brings to the table” so to speak. I meet interesting people and I find watching people eat your food extremely satisfying as the results are instantaneous (though it can be a little daunting, especially when you cook for those with high-expectations and those that know a little something when it comes to food).
Dinner was a success and tummies were fully satisfied. The diners indulged in my signature guacamole and white wine sangria during sunset. For an appetizer, the they ate my “shrimp cocktail”; simply grilled shrimp served with a creamy avocado puree, red wine reduction and sweet glazed pearl onions. I cooked up perfectly roasted Yucatan style chicken served with spicy achiote sauce, exquisite esquite custard, tangy green tomato compote and potato crisps. To end the meal, the diners ended on a sweet note, with silky smooth vanilla-lemongrass pot de creme garnished with tortilla cinnamon chips and jamaica “caviar”.
My number 1 chef fan (also fiancé) was also instrumental to this dinner (serving eight people alone would be impossible). Pawel selflessly provides his charming looks and winning personality as my “front of the house” as well as his hands as my lonely dishwasher at each meal. However, it seems with each dinner he becomes more of my sous chef than “help”. Thank you Pawel, my Cozumel Chef kitchen family, and my future family.
Food is the soul and heart to a household. It brings people together, it should be an event as these diners created on their last night in Cozumel by hiring Cozumel Chef. So today, on this so-called Cinco de Mayo, do as the Mexican’s do and invite your friends, family, even strangers for a meal and just celebrate!