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Meet the Royal Resorts Family: Chef Deyanira

Chef Deyanira Gonzalez is the Executive Chef at The Royal Sands and also oversees Hacienda Sisal.

Originally from Orizaba, Veracruz, she has been in the Mexican Caribbean for 15 years. She says that her love of cooking comes from childhood when her mother taught her the secrets of the Mexican kitchen and how to prepare traditional dishes.

“I decided that I wanted to become a Chef and started looking for a culinary school,” she reminisces. “It was difficult back then, there weren’t very many of them and they were expensive but I was lucky to have the support of my family. I studied in Puebla at the Instituto Culinario de Mexico. While I was there I won two cooking competitions and the prizes were study trips to cooking schools in Bruges, Belgium and to New York.

Deyanira returned to Puebla to present her professional exam and then traveled to the Mexican Caribbean to look for work. She joined Palace Resorts as a cook and began to climb the career ladder. Three years later, she became an Executive Chef. She says, “There were 13 restaurants and I was the only woman to be an Executive Chef and I have never looked back.”

Her next job was at the Fiesta Americana Coral Beach as a Junior Sous Chef and she was in the team of chefs at the opening of Live Aqua. She then moved to Barcelo Resorts, leaving to join Ocean Maya by H10 and then travelled to the Mexican Riviera to work at Hard Rock Hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

She joined Royal Resorts two years ago and was based at The Royal Haciendas, transferring to The Royal Sands in 2018. She says, “I am really happy at Royal Resorts, they let me really work, create and implement new ideas. At The Royal Sands I am in charge of La Veranda, Sidelines, Sand Dollar, Char Hut and Hacienda Sisal.

“My responsibilities are team leadership, creating new menus and presentations, quality control and taste,” she adds. “I monitor costs, check the inventory and order missing items. I am in charge of price quotes and budgets. I constantly try new things out, for example different dishes for the buffets and menus. I want there to be something new for our guests on every visit.”

Deyanira says, “Creativity and innovation are very important for me. For example, I want to change the set up of the buffets and the presentation and décor for the theme nights. I’m adding show kitchen items so that more of our dishes are cooked to order. Our guests will start seeing the changes. We have added more recipe salads to the buffets and we will be making more changes to the theme nights in the months to come.

When asked about her favorite cuisine to cook, Deyanira explains, “I love preparing Thai food. I was lucky enough to visit Thailand and wherever I traveled in the country the local chefs would show me how to cook their curries and use spices. And of course, Mexican cuisine is incredible, a joy to cook and a feast for the senses.”

She adds: ”When I was at The Royal Haciendas, Chef Angel, our pastry chef was a great support. He is a true artist and I still call him for advice about desserts. It is one of the areas where I feel I still have opportunities to learn more and grow.”

Deyanira keeps track of the latest tendencies in the world of gourmet cuisine. “I like cutting-edge vanguard cuisine,” she says, adding, “Working with liquid nitrogen is interesting, but the food must taste really good as well as looking spectacular. You must never put looks over flavor; it is the most important thing.

“What inspires me?” My inspiration comes from home, from my family,” she says. “When someone really enjoys a dish I have prepared, I feel that my family would be proud of me. When someone thanks me and congratulates me, I feel happy, after all, it is my job.”

On the subject of Mexican cuisine, Deyanira had this to say: “Mexican cuisine is incredibly diverse, I love recipes from Oaxaca. Mole amarilla and rosa are complex, spice-rich sauces that have a sophisticated flavor. Mayan cuisine includes Queso Relleno and Relleno Negro. And then the cuisine from my home state of Veracruz ranges from snacks like gorditas de frijol, garnachas and pambazos to seafood masterpieces. Every community in Mexico has its own identity and dishes. I could go on talking for hours!

“Apart from an abundance of ingredients, I believe that we have kept faith with the old ways and time-honored traditions of food preparation,” she explains. “For instance, we still use the molcajete or volcanic stone mortar and pestle to make sauces and everything is handmade.

“I am proud to see Mexican cuisine taking its rightful place on the international stage,” she says. “There are chefs that have become ambassadors for our country, sharing its recipes with the world. For example, Chef Roberto Ruiz has a Michelin Star at Punto Mx in Spain. His cuisine is incredible and he has taken many kitchen staff over to Europe. He makes his tortillas by hand using a griddle and even grows his own corn.

“It is an honor to be a chef,” Deyanira says, adding: “I think that to be a chef as a woman has its own merit. If you are passionate about something and work towards a goal, you’ll achieve it, no matter what. There are more women in the kitchen now, but when I started out it was really difficult. I have been an Executive Chef for nine years and now and again I still have to deal with people who have outdated attitudes and prejudices. I have to work to change this.

“I’m always learning, taking courses to expand my knowledge and I travel every year, either in Mexico or abroad,” Deyanira explains. “Wherever I go, I meet local chefs and try and learn from them. I have been to Brazil and two years ago I traveled around Spain with a Spanish friend who took me off the beaten track to discover authentic dishes in different regions of the country.

“I want our guests to have a delicious dining experience, with great flavors and presentation and we will always offer a variety of new dishes for them to try during their vacation. I want the restaurants at The Royal Sands to be the best. This is my opportunity and I am really happy to be here.”

What’s cooking?

See what Chef Deyanira and her team are cooking up at The Royal Sands. Book your table at Hacienda Sisal or call in at La Veranda for a theme night during the week.

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