PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO—Spontaneity is something most associate with youth: free-spirited, unplanned, at times casual—and always excited for new opportunities. Now, guests at Grand Miramar All Luxury Suites & Residences are experiencing spontaneity when they dine with newly appointed Executive Chef Casiano Reyes through his no menu, “spontaneous cuisine” concept.
“The spontaneous cuisine concept originates from the desire of not being limited to or based on a menu. I select the freshest products daily and prepare a tasting menu of three or five courses,” Reyes explained. He operates all of the resort’s restaurants either à la carte or without a menu, including La Mar, which serves up international cuisine; Cielito Lindo, which features authentic Mexican specialties; and La Terraza, a poolside restaurant that serves only à la carte breakfast and lunch.
Diners looking to participate in the spontaneous experience advise Reyes and his team of their food preferences and any allergies. Then, the chef enters the kitchen to create a series of custom dishes tailored to that guest.
“Customers really love this experience. At first, some are a bit skeptical and do not really know what to expect but, in the end, they are totally amazed with the ingredients and blend of flavors,” Reyes revealed. “The only thing we take into account for the creation of our dishes is allergies and something you really do not like to eat. Guests go with the experience because there are familiar ingredients and they are willing to try flavor combinations they have not tried before.”
Fresh, regional ingredients are at the core of the spontaneous cuisine concept. Reyes said he takes pride in sourcing local items, which he finds at village markets and organic farms, and through fishermen and other local businesses across Mexico. “Local ingredients that I source could be anything from seafood to vegetables. That means, if there is a fresh and delicious tuna, I will create a dish with that special ingredient,” Reyes emphasized.
The use of locally sourced ingredients is trending in F&B, according to Paul Diaz, director of sales and marketing, Grand Miramar All Luxury Suites & Residences. Reyes highlighted that spontaneous cuisine incorporates the trendiness of using local ingredients, while showcasing Mexico’s culinary heritage. “I think my spontaneous cuisine concept is in line with the current trend of eating locally. It reflects an environmentally friendly and sustainable effort that benefits the earth and regional community,” Reyes stated.
According to Diaz, the spontaneous menu is an ever-changing, evolving, multi-course, tasting menu. “It takes diners on a culinary journey with the best-of-the-best ingredients Mexico has to offer,” he said. Also, the concept gives customers an “element of surprise” as Reyes creates a yet-unknown meal based on their preferences and his knowledge of ingredients and flavors.
Both men agree that the spontaneous concept could be a game changer in the F&B world. “I’m pushing boundaries with what a dining experience can be, moving away from the traditional menu concept and letting ingredients be the guide and adding the element of discovery,” Reyes said.
Diaz took notice of Reyes’ ability to push boundaries when he was being appointed to the executive chef position and called him a “trailblazer” in the culinary arts. He described Reyes’ cooking technique as a “contemporary twist on classic Mexican dishes and flavors” but also one that incorporates an international influence.
Some favorite spontaneous menu items of Diaz include pescado al pastor, which is a red snapper over pineapple puree with tortilla and adobo salsa; and duck empanadas wrapped in filo dough, which calls for ancho chiles that are local to the resort.
Reyes also described some of his favorite dishes, including roasted corn with scallops. “The texture of this corn is sublime like butter, and it is paired with seared scallops in a heirloom tomato and basil stew,” he said. For the foie gras enchiladas, an international-inspired item, he said, “This dish is a spectacular combination of foie gras with onion marmalade wrapped in banana tortilla sauce and smoked potatoes.”
According to Diaz, Reyes’ culinary ventures have improved the hotel’s overall bottom line because he’s added clientele and incorporated smart grocery-buying techniques that save money. “It has improved in a significant way because now we can offer guests the freshest local and seasonal ingredients found by our chef. Also, because we are buying local it helps the community and economy and reduces food costs,” he said.
Reyes also improves the overall quality of the resort’s three F&B outlets by using creativity and a personal touch. “He distinguishes himself by being involved in all aspects as an active member of each team in each kitchen and also conceiving ideas from the start of each day,” Diaz commented. “He is always looking for ways to improve each of the dishes, flavors and presentations. In addition, he is in the front of the house, always attentive to the guests at the tables and listens to feedback from diners and incorporates their suggestions.”
Reyes’ foray into culinary arts did not happen overnight. Rather, one might instead say that he was born with cooking in his blood. “I was born in Oaxaca, the cradle of Mexico’s culinary heritage,” he explained. He earned a degree in F&B from the university in Mexico City and eventually moved to Las Vegas to gain more cooking experience.
In 2005, he started his own culinary project with the opening of Casianos in Los Cabos and then eventually in Nayarit, Mexico in 2010. “I didn’t want to use ingredients that weren’t in prime condition or quality, so I came up with spontaneous cuisine, a concept inherently linked to Mexico’s freshest, regional ingredients made available that day. I let the local available ingredients guide my culinary creations,” he said.
With his spontaneous cuisine concept and the promotion of Mexico through the use of its freshest ingredients, Reyes has left his mark on the world of F&B. “Chef Casiano is not only elevating the gastronomic offerings at Grand Miramar but trailblazing a new culinary art form in Puerto Vallarta,” said Diaz. It’s exciting to be a part of that.” HB