Zamá restaurant at Villa del Palmar Cancun is proud to introduce its new chef, Fabián Aceves. Born to professional musicians in Guadalajara on Mexico’s western state of Jalisco, Chef Fabián grew up in Mexico City, where the city’s culinary diversity was a fabulous springboard for the chef’s talents. Take a moment to find out what inspires Zamá’s chef in the kitchen and what delicious treats you can look forward to on your next visit.
When did your passion for cooking begin?
My passion for the kitchen was “unleashed” as a young child growing up with my grandfather who was a retired chef. My mother was an orchestra director and my father was a rock musician and when they separated I left Guadalajara with my father to live in Mexico City with my grandfather. My grandfather was given early retirement as he lost an eye when an oven exploded at work, so he had plenty of time to teach me all his secrets. If there is one thing I always remember my grandfather saying is: “Son, remember that in life, you must put both love and salt in your cooking!”
Around the time I was going to be entering high school, I decided to return to Guadalajara and I took my grandfather’s advice once more and got a job working in an Italian restaurant he had told me about: Ristorante Giosepe, from there I moved to Puerto Vallarta to work in one of the finest restaurants in town called Café des Artists as Chef de Partie.
During my time there I won a culinary contest called “A Comer Jalisco” (Let’s Eat Jalisco) where I had to prepare a typical dish from the region. I felt very honored to have won such a great award, competing alongside renowned chefs; I am also very fortunate to have been coached by the owner of the restaurant where I was working, who inspired me to enter and who helped me to win. I won a scholarship to continue studying gastronomy and from there I got the chance to travel to various parts of the world working as a chef.
What inspires you?
Turning cooking into art. I mean, cooking is so versatile that you can play with so many flavors, textures and so on, which you will see in the dishes I serve. For example, let’s take a fish dish; why not play with the traditions a little by adding a few of the molecular techniques, as well as some original touches that blend traditions with artistic details. My dishes are always very expressive. I love Mexican cuisine. To tell you the truth, I am in love with Mexican food because you will find Mexico’s culture, history and all its flavors contained within it.
Where there many Mexican restaurants where you grew up?
Yes, lots! I am originally from Guadalajara, Jalisco, and you can imagine how many Mexican restaurants there are in such a beautiful place, as well as all of those I experienced in Mexico City. You could say I have had expert training to run Zamá Mexican restaurant. I love preparing Mexican menus. I have traveled the world and I can tell you that Mexican cuisine has something to show the best restaurants around the globe.
What will be your influence on the menu at Zamá?
My objective is to refresh the evening menu with some avant garde techniques, as well as touches of Mayan and pre-Hispanic cuisine, while the daytime menu offers more casual and fresh dishes where you can take a tour of the country’s different flavors by trying each dish.
Do you have time to go to restaurants yourself?
As part of my commitment to my career and my passion, I love to go to restaurants, when I have the time. When I hear about a new restaurant, I like to go and experience it firsthand. You have to keep opening yourself up to new ideas and experiences.