Meet Juan Carlos Orozco, the new Royal Resorts Executive Chef. Only 32 years old, he is a young talent who has already cooked for Presidents, royalty and celebrities and has worked in several international hotel chains both here in Mexico and in Panama and Cuba. This is his second time at Royal Resorts and members and guests can look forward to many tempting surprises in the months and years to come.
Originally from Mexico City, Chef Juan Carlos grew up in Leon, Guanajuato, in the fertile Bajío region. As the youngest grandson he spent much time helping his grandmother in the kitchen learning all the secrets of traditional Mexican cuisine. He also remembers helping his father in the orchard and greenhouse, harvesting fresh produce and then helping him cook it. As a result of this experience a passion was kindled and he decided that he wanted to become a chef.
He studied diplomas in Gastronomy and New Mexican Cuisine at the Iberoamerican University and during his career he has taken many courses on the latest tendencies and techniques in world cuisine, hotel administration and more.
In 2008, he joined Palace Resorts as a Specialty Chef and Sous Chef with responsibility for events. In 2011, he was recruited to Royal Resorts as Executive Sous Chef before moving to Panama to open two new hotels, the Intercontinental and Westin. It was at the Westin that he cooked for ministers attending the Latin America Summit in 2013, the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden and the Economic Forum.
In 2014, Chef Orozco returned to Mexico to Grupo Karisma in the Riviera Maya, working as Executive Chef in Generations Riviera Maya and Azul Sensatori.
In 2016, he was appointed as Executive Chef at Hyatt Ziva in Los Cabos with responsibility for seven specialty restaurants and a sports bar. He then moved to Cuba to take up a post as Executive Chef at the Melía Cohiba in Havana, where the four restaurants were favorites with the diplomatic community.
He reminisces, “I have had the honor to cook for three Mexican Presidents Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderon and Enrique Peña Nieto, US Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Latin American heads of state, the former King of Spain and many other dignitaries.”
Chef Orozco has amassed a wealth of experience in running hotel restaurants and has achieved a standard of excellence wherever he has worked.
At Royal Resorts he oversees the operation of all the restaurants in Cancun and at The Royal Haciendas and has a staff of 250 chefs, cooks, kitchen assistants and cleaning staff. He says, “My responsibilities are to keep raising quality standards and customer satisfaction, staff training, innovation, the creation of new menus and to be at the forefront, always looking for new products and techniques for the dining pleasure of our guests. We are working on changes that we think our members and guests will be very happy with,” he adds, “our goal is to take the Royal Resorts restaurants to another level, making gradual changes to a la carte and buffet menus, improving the presentation of dishes on the buffets.“
Chef Orozco continues, “We are already making some changes to the menus, diners will find new Mexican dishes to try at Hacienda Sisal and the Sand Dollar at The Royal Sands will have a ceviche menu at lunchtime and a greater variety of sushi in the evenings.” However, he is quick to point out that members who have favorite dishes that they enjoy every vacation need not worry, they will still be able to find them on the menus.
When asked what inspires him, he says “I am inspired by the latest tendencies, the fact that world cuisine is constantly evolving and that there is always something new to learn, such as the sous-vide vacuum sealed slow cooking technique or farm to the table. I was one of the first chefs in the Riviera Maya to serve molecular cuisine but it is no longer in fashion. Later on I had to learn how to prepare Indian cuisine to cater to growing demand. The market is always changing.”
“I would say that my greatest strength is Mexican cuisine, Chef Orozco says, “I was an ambassador for Mexican cuisine when I worked in Panama and Cuba. Mexico is extraordinarily rich in cuisine and food culture that UNESCO added it to the World Heritage list. The country is so big that each region has its own specialties and they are best sampled in situ. Having said that, there are some gastronomic hot spots like Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas and Yucatán that are remarkable for the number of dishes they contribute to the national cuisine. As we are in the Yucatan Peninsula I would recommend that our guests try local dishes such as cochinita pibil (marinated slow cooked pork), sopa de lima (lime and chicken broth) or salbutes (deep-fried corn tortillas topped with shredded lettuce, avocado, chicken or turkey and pickled red onion).
“Mexican cuisine comes in two different varieties: antojitos or appetizers such as tacos and complex dishes known as guisos that are sophisticated blends of sauces, herbs and spices, with vibrant flavors. Previously, the stereotype of Mexican cuisine was the taco; this is no longer the case. Gifted Mexican chefs are making their mark on the international stage and the chefs of the world are turning their eyes towards Mexico for the richness of its ingredients and flavors.
“The food world is revolutionizing,” he adds, “More universities are offering culinary courses. Renowned chefs like Ferrán Adria of Spain are experimenting with flavors and textures. Cuisine is an art, you put your very soul into preparing a dish; it is your interpretation. You can give the same recipe to 10 chefs and they will all come up with something different. Yet, the more I learn, the more I see that traditional Mexican cooking techniques like the pib or cooking pit used here in the Yucatan, or the barbacoa of central Mexico are the slow cooking techniques that are so popular nowadays. You have to respect your roots.”
“My message to Royal Resorts members and guests is that tempting new dining experiences will await them on every visit. In addition to their classic favorites, they’ll find fresh flavors, different dishes and theme nights to try.”
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