JW Marriott El Convento Cusco welcomes Thais Rodriguez as Executive Chef & B. In her position, Rodriguez will serve as the lead chef at the hotel’s in-house restaurants, Pirqa and Qespi Bar, while overseeing operations and management for the front of the house.
Chef Rodriguez comes to Cusco, Peru by way of the Cayman Islands, where she spent four years at Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort and rapidly scaled the management ladder to Chef de Cuisine. During her time there, she was actively involved in the design and concept of the first ‘Great Room’ in a resort property within Marriott’s CALA region, creating the now well-known Anchor & Den restaurant that has started a culinary movement on the island.
Prior to the Cayman Islands, Rodriguez trained under the likes of the renowned Chef Michael Schwartz and celebrity pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith at the James Beard Award winning restaurant, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. She was then commissioned to open a Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Grand Cayman. After a year, Rodriguez moved to Spain for additional training, before returning to the islands to join the team at Grand Cayman Marriott.
As she settles into an entirely new region, Rodriguez has redesigned the menus at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco’s main restaurant and lobby bar, infusing as much of the country’s history, art and culture into her dishes and cocktails, to showcase the wholesomeness and diversity of the region. Menu highlights include: Octopus Confit with Candied Olives and Mashed Tarwi – a type of pea, native to Peru; Pachamanca – which involves a specific cooking technique that dates back to the Inca; and a flavorful Peruvian dessert called Platanos al Pisco, made with the country’s signature spirit.
Expanding upon this “culture-to-table” concept, Chef Thais is taking a holistic approach to the cocktail menu, playing with locally sourced herbs and vegetables, and house-infused liquors, syrups, bitters, and shrubs. For example, the Mojito de Salvia is a concoction created with Bacardi Rum, fresh squeezed lime juice, and salvia leaves – a native plant named after the Latin word meaning “to heal.” The Muña Julep is another salubrious blend with Jim Beam White, fresh squeezed lime juice, and ‘Muña’ – or Andean Mint, a medicinal plant restricted to the South American Andes area. Because you eat with your eyes first, Chef Thais is a master of presentation, using local textiles, colorful garnishes and unique glassware, for a creative and playful approach.
“My passion for travel and appreciation for food from different regions of the world inspires my cooking,” says Thais Rodriguez. “I love to showcase re-inventions of multi-ethnic foods, combining the old with the new – still respecting tradition yet striving for innovation – which is my main goal for the F&B at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco.”