With 23 years of experience in the Food and Beverage industry, Chef Tlaltekiti Rivera defines himself as someone with his heart in the kitchen, his soul in the bakery and his mind on the numbers! Meet Villa del Palmar Cancun’s new Food and Beverage Manager who will be taking your culinary experiences to another level.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I am originally from Mexico City; both of my parents are Mexican. I love to offer excellent service. And what I mean by excellence is not “perfection” per se— in my opinion, perfection doesn’t exist—; excellence is something you strive for each and every day.
I am passionate about good food, maried with the great drinks, be it a good wine or great cocktail. I love to travel, you might say it is my hobby. I always seek to find out more about the culture and the place I am visiting, which leads me to enjoy the cuisine on offer too. When it comes to reading, I’m a little strange there as you might think I would read books about gastronomy, when the truth is that I tend to read about economics and quality control.
When did you discover that food and beverages were your passion?
My love of cooking was inspired by my grandmothers who lived in the states of Veracruz and Puebla respectively. Thanks to them, I decided to study gastronomy. I also spent quite some time traveling with my father, who is an anthropologist. We traveled a lot, which I loved, and I was able to visit and understand the many different communities we visited. For example, the first time I went to the United States was to study the Navajo Nation, and I became fascinated with the culture, customs and everything related to their diet based on seeds and the kokopelli deity. I was hooked and it made me even more interested in gastronomy. I love eating and trying new flavors.
However, you could say that I found gastronomy on the rebound. I originally wanted to study engineering. Truly! So I started working as a bartender to save money to pay for my studies. I then began to evaluate what was best for me. Today, I am so happy I followed my passion; it was also at that time that Mexico’s culinary movement took off.
So, cooking is your passion?
You know, the way I see it is very simple. It is the art of understanding our way of life. Eating is primordial, and that is where it all begins. Having worked in different parts of the world has helped me to see the bigger picture of how cultures and culinary traditions develop side by side. I have worked in the USA, Peru, Argentina, Europe and I continue to discover new experiences every day.
Do you have a particular cooking style that defines you?
I simply love to create memorable moments, no matter what style of cuisine, as long as they are of a high quality. I seek to deliver excellent dishes, excellent wines and excellent service while creating the perfect setting for those elements to come together. If I had to choose, I think I would choose a culture rather than a type of cuisine or style. A culture is much wider, and you can learn a lot from it.
Were there a lot of restaurants where you grew up?
Yes! Today, Mexico City is a mecca for culinary experiences.
How do you feel about this new position as Food and Beverage Manager at Villa del Palmar Cancun?
I have the opportunity to provide a 360 degree experience, from the moment we welcome each member and guest, where every person in the team is an essential element of the experience, from the hostess to the person who puts the cherry on the top of the dessert, to the chef who prepares the main dish. My team loves creating, learning, sharing and giving their best. We have a really enthusiastic team.
Do you like to go to restaurants yourself?
Of course! There is no better way to grow than to travel and experience new things. So, yes, I treat myself 100%. I am a traveler at heart, I’m rarely at home, although, when I am, I love to cook for my family.
How do you and your team create those all important wow moments for members and guests?
By creating an environment where our visitors experience something magical that will capture their imagination. It involves the whole team, each of us putting our own grain of sand. We seek to surprise diners.
What brought you to join the family at Villa del Palmar Cancun?
I worked for many years at Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Villa La Estancia in Riviera Nayarit, and so I am happy to be back working for the chain where I have shared so many wonderful experiences. I am very happy to be back here again, this time in Cancun, with even more experiences to share!