His real Mexican cuisine demonstrates the true tastes, culture and ingredients of the Yucatan Peninsula in a series of sensational dishes, as he explains:
“The Yucatan Peninsula is an area where three states – Quintana Roo, Campeche & Yucatan – combine incredible culture from the Mayans, the area’s ancient people. This part of Central America was known as the Mesoamerica and our food is inspired by these Yucatan Peninsula flavors with our unique jungle twists, always respecting the hints and subtle notes of each ingredient.”
His family-style cuisine starts with salsa madre that alone features 12 ingredients, an explosion of flavors from vibrant tomatoes, chilis and more.
Chef Luis Aguilar was born in Durango in Northwest Mexico between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Occidental. After high school, he moved to Vancouver for an English degree where he got his first kitchen job as a dishwasher. He immediately got hooked into the kitchen rush, observing the cooks, smelling the garlic frying with olive oil, how that “organized chaos” had a place.
He then enrolled in culinary school in Austin, Texas, at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu program. He was first hired at The Hilton in downtown Austin but his curiosity soon took him to Europe, namely Valencia in Spain. Thereafter it was to The Bahamas and Miami before a move to Playa del Carmen and 3 years at Ula Gula Restaurant, where Chef Fran del Piero was his mentor.
Then it was a year’s working holiday in New Zealand, learning about wine, before he ended up in Australia at Sydney’s Rojo Rocket Mexican Cuisine. He joined Tacombi group in New York in 2012, playing a very important role in the culinary program and growing the group from one to four locations. One cold winter, he took a quick trip back home from NY to the palm beaches, turquoise water and jungle of Tulum – somewhere he realized would become his home again.
In 2015 he started Safari after finding a vintage 1971 Airstream which became “the kitchen” of his own restaurant.
Text written by Vincent Mui, Founder Test Kitchen
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