Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection introduces a new and discerning team that will lead the resort’s centerpiece restaurant, Cocina del Mar, into a visionary age of culinary excellence in Los Cabos.
The private and luxury beach resort names Alexis Palacios as executive chef and Ibrahim Amaya García as chef de cuisine. At the helm as Executive Chef, Palacios has skillfully redesigned menus for all four of Esperanza’s restaurants—including poolside eatery Las Estrellas, beachfront open-air kitchen La Palapa, and lunch restaurant La Terraza Americana in addition to Cocina del Mar—and will lead the resort’s catering and culinary programming. Together, the talented team brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will revitalize and sustain Cocina del Mar’s reputation among the best restaurants in Mexico.
“We are delighted to welcome both Chef Alexis and Chef Ibrahim to the Esperanza family,” says Marc Rodriguez, general manager, Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection. “Both chefs are well-versed in the seasonal rhythms and bounty of ingredients found here in Baja California and are at the pulse of epicurean trends around the globe. As we conceptualize this next chapter for the resort’s culinary program, they bring newfound creative energy to the team to culminate a one-of-a-kind and authentic experience for our guests.”
The next iteration of Cocina del Mar appears familiar but the ethos driving the menu is renewed. Stepping away from the region’s innate habit of focusing only on seafood, the menu is a holistic experience of all its ingredients, equally balanced by elements of mountains, desert and sea. Organic and sustainably sourced heirloom Baja California ingredients lead the new menu, of which 90 percent comprises natural or house-made items. Whether grown by local farmers, nurtured by the sea before caught by local fishermen, or handmade in Esperanza’s kitchen, elements are thoughtfully combined for a sense of surrounding in each dish.
This approach, highlighting the profusion of regional herbs and produce, advances Cocina del Mar as the epitome of authentic Baja cuisine and makes way for a naturally health-conscious menu. Seafood and complete proteins will be served alongside refreshing and wholesome dishes like aloe vera vegan ceviche, butternut squash with peanut mole sauce and caramelized pumpkin seeds, citronella sorbet, and a fresh carpaccio of cold-pressed melon, local cheese, lemongrass, passionfruit, and honey from a local floral honey farm in the desert. Other localities used include seasonal pitayas, desert mangoes and herbs like damiana. Cocina del Mar’s original roots remain with signature dishes featuring local shellfish such as chocolata clams with cucumber aguachile and fermented black lime, butter clams with jicama root and chili ponzu, scallops with charred avocado and tomatillo pico de gallo, and grilled oysters with kale and prosciutto stew and Oaxacan chili butter. Seafood lovers will delight in salt-crusted totoaba, a white fish endemic to the Gulf of California, with Mexican pepper leaf mojo, plantain purée, red miso butter or San Carlos Shrimps with fresh lemon and black garlic chimichurri.
Palacios was most recently a part of the opening team as Executive Chef at a luxury hotel in Mexico City, where he led two restaurants and three bars and other hotel food and beverage operations. Still, his story begins as a child learning to cook from his mother’s kitchen in Guerrero, Mexico. This is Palacios’ return to Los Cabos—where he tenured in the kitchens at other luxury resorts in Los Cabos before his time in Mexico City—and a homecoming to Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection. Between the years of 2009 and 2011, he served as Executive Sous Chef at the resort. Now, as Executive Chef, Palacios will lead the kitchens of Esperanza’s four dining outlets and culinary touchpoints across the property, including special events, groups and weddings catering, and the revival of Ignacio’s Garden among other key programs.
With a palate as colorful as his sneaker collection, Palacios instills various new techniques in Cocina del Mar’s new menu. As a master fermenter, Palacios has already pioneered new signature styles and dishes using this modus operandi to create complex flavor. Guests can expect to discover vinegar using grapes from Ignacios’ Garden, the resort’s garden located on property, and “black onion,” a technique that uses a well-aged onion and fermenting it to develop flavors similar to balsamic. He has already introduced his 20-year-old tepache (a Mexican style kombucha) recipe, quickly becoming a guest favorite. Palacios also brings a heightened display of dry aging. The trend can be experienced through dishes, such as a tiradito (raw) dish of high-quality King Kampachi fish from La Paz served with beet vinegar and a fresh take on breakfast with Chilaquiles featuring tomatillo pico de gallo and local dehydrated meat infused with chiles.
“To me, ultra-luxury in dining means providing guests with new things on their plate that they haven’t experienced before,” says Alexis Palacios, executive chef, Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection. “When guests dine at Cocina del Mar or any of Esperanza’s culinary outlets, I want them to discover the unique flavor profiles, organic produce, and wide selection of seafood and meat available that combined define the cuisine authentic to Baja.”
Alongside Palacios, Chef de Cuisine Ibrahim Amaya García joins the Esperanza team from a beloved restaurant in nearby Todos Santos, where he trained with renowned Mexican Chef Javier Plascencia. Originally from La Paz, Amaya García’s style highlights complete proteins, specifically pork, with simple, rustic ingredients and techniques using fire and smoke–a perfect fit for Cocina del Mar’s existent signature woodfire flavors. Amaya García has already added tatemado, or roasting and braising methods, to the new menu, with dishes such as his Braised Short Rib, for a varied texture portfolio.
“Esperanza and Cocina del Mar perfectly marry the personal style I’ve developed through my past experiences with the challenges and growth I am looking for in my future,” says Ibrahim Amaya García, chef de cuisine, Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection. “I’m thrilled to be a part of this next chapter as we establish Cocina del Mar as the best restaurant in Cabo.”
As both chefs are native to Mexico, they have established deep relationships with farmers, fishermen and other Baja producers. While using local ingredients, they demonstrate the importance of respect for animals and the environment with zero-waste cooking methods. Guests can experience Esperanza’s commitment to this first hand by partaking in culinary journeys such as Sea Foraging excursion to hand-pick seafood for a flavorful dish, traditional cooking classes and those special for kids, or Asado by the Sea oyster and clambake–all of which pair perfectly with the Mexican Wine Journey, featuring incredible wines from Valle de Guadalupe, or a Mezcal Tasting.
About The Friedkin Group
The Friedkin Group is a privately-held consortium of automotive, hospitality, entertainment, sports and adventure companies. These organizations include: Gulf States Toyota, GSFSGroup, US AutoLogistics, Ascent Automotive Group, Auberge Resorts Collection, AS Roma, Imperative Entertainment, 30WEST, NEON, Diamond Creek Golf Club, Congaree and Legendary Expeditions. The Friedkin Group is led by Chairman and CEO Dan Friedkin. For more information, visit www.friedkin.com.