Culinary Experience in Riviera Maya

Prepare to embark on a unique epicurean journey throughout 5 specialty fine dining restaurants, which showcase artful dishes and trendy décor to delight the finest food connoisseurs. During the day, 3 gourmet eateries also offer delectable creations. In addition, 5 bars boast international premium wines, liquors and spirits. Dine Arounds for groups may be blocked in fine dining restaurants through the Hotel CSM. At check-in each participant may reserve restaurants and seating according to preference.

Culinary Biographies

Ricardo de la Vega

Born in Mexico City, Chef Ricardo de la Vega began his culinary adventure as a kitchen assistant in several of the city’s restaurants, where he discovered his passion for the culinary arts that accompanies him to this day. Having gained experience in various hotels in states throughout the country including Puebla, Oaxaca, the Yucatan and Quintana Roo, he later joined Grand Velas Riviera Maya as the Executive Chef of restaurant Frida.

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In 2011, he won first place in the “La Best Du Or” contest organized by La Toque Blanche, where he represented Mexico at the gourmet “Flavors of Mexico in London” event in England. He was also one of a group of chefs that participated in the international “Best of Mexico” event, bringing Mexican cuisine to places such as Houston and Miami.

His dream has always been to thoroughly explore Mexican cuisine; to show people not only from other countries, but Mexico as well, the richness of products and different forms of preparation. Above all, he seeks to provide diners with an unforgettable culinary experience in modern and contemporary cuisine without losing its traditional essence.

Nahúm Velasco

Originally from Mexico City, cuisine always occupied a special place in his heart; since he was a child. All important events took place in the kitchen of his home, which is why, at the age of 17, he decided to try his luck in the restaurant Mexico Lindo and Que Rico. There he discovered that he would be a cook, and he later formalized his training at the Ambrosia Culinary Center. This was his gateway to Spain, where he served in the kitchens of La Taberna del Alabardero and Adoc in Madrid.

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Upon returning to Mexico, he worked in research and dissemination of traditional Mexican cuisine, organizing festivals and culinary shows throughout Mexico and in places like Tokyo and Miami. Several years later, he arrived in Playa del Carmen at restaurant Cocina de Autor to work under the command of Xavier Pérez Stone; this restaurant marked a turning point in both his personal and professional life. His thirst for learning made a leap to Copenhagen, where he worked with Chef Rasmus Kofoed at his restaurant Geranium.

After experiencing life in the Nordic lands, he decided to return to Playa del Carmen and work in Martin Berasategui’s restaurant Passion, where he remained until receiving the invitation from Xavier Pérez Stone, Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza to help lead Cocina Autor at Grand Velas Riviera Maya; where he currently works under the guidance of these three great friends and teachers. At Cocina de Autor, Velasco seeks to continue the evolution and creativity, respect the product, refine the technique and above all, show passion for his craft.

Wayu "Light" Wattanakamin

Wayu “Light” Wattanakamin has 14 years of culinary-industry experience. Originally from Thailand, he began his career after culinary school by opening his own restaurant. He later explored international cuisine at the Sahara Resorts in Kuwait, the Millennium Plaza Hotel in Dubai, the Diplomatic Club in Doha and many more throughout Europe and Malaysia.

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Most recently, Chef Light headed up the Signature Restaurant at Banyan Tree Mayakoba. His experience and talent create a combination of inspiration that stems from recipes passed down from his mother, keeping traditional food and flavors of the Thai Kitchen in every dish. Today he is Executive Chef of Asian Fusion restaurant Sen Lin at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, where his menu balances modern and ancient cuisine, playing on new textures and original presentations with traditional ingredients.

Mario Soto

Chef Mario Soto began working at the age of 17 in an industrial cafeteria. At age 19 he arrived at China Grill, located in the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City. There he met Chef Hugo Sánchez, who polished his basic knowledge in the kitchen. Together with Hugo Sanchez, the Executive Chef of China Grill, a Frenchman named Philippe Steiman, taught him the basics of French cuisine. From that day forward, Soto fell in love with the so-called “mother of gastronomy” and knew that this would

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After two years at China Grill, he was hired at Yu Shan, a Pekingese Chinese restaurant in the Torre Mayor in Mexico City. There he served as a Station Chef, in charge of fast food. With a thirst for learning about French cuisine, he decided to travel to Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur, where he had the opportunity to work with Maître Cuisinier de France Jacques Georges E. Chrétien for a year as Station Chef in the fish area. In 2006, he returned to Mexico City and worked in Bistrot la Bourgogne, a restaurant that further increased his knowledge. French chef Aurelien Legeay showed him what traditional French cuisine was, and taught him about the dishes served in French homes. After two years, his performance led him to become the Executive Chef of Bistrot la Bourgogne. In 2010, he was Sous Chef of the Lipp restaurant in the JW Marriot Hotel and in 2011, Executive Chef at Brassi, a restaurant in Polanco (Mexico City).

By the end of 2012, he had been the Executive Chef of Crêperie de la Paix for two years, and ODUN restaurant in the Condesa area, where he obtained administrative and accounting skills. He also served as Sous Chef at Bistro 83 in San Angel for a year. He then traveled to the Mexican Caribbean to work as the Head Chef of restaurant Piaf at Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort, alongside Chef Michel Mustière (also named Maître de Cuisinier de France), from whom he learned not only another style of French cuisine, but discipline and constancy.

Today, he is the Executive Chef of Piaf and is registered in the national final of Bocuse D’or, one of the most important awards in the gastronomy industry. “Our responsibility as chefs is to always share and teach what we know to anyone who has the capacity to listen. The cuisine not only tastes; cuisine screams, is felt and admired. All our senses are in action, which is why this the best job in the world. “

Laura Isadora Ávalos Sierra

Originally from Manzanillo, Colima, Chef Ávalos’ love for cuisine was inspired by her father’s cooking and her Sunday mornings at the fishermen’s market, with its scent of fresh seafood to be prepared in family meals. To her, the happiness that results from a good dish has no compare.

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She began her career at the Barceló Karmina Palace resort, where she carried out her professional apprenticeship. She then joined the central kitchen of Grand Velas Riviera Maya, under the guidance of Antonio Ochoa, from whom she learned about sacrifice and resilience. Later, it was the Executive Sous Chef who taught her about the administrative side of the department.
But it was a restaurant Frida, alongside Chef Ricardo de la Vega, where she learned the secrets of Mexican gastronomy and took part in the “Wine & Food Riviera Maya” festivals. She continued on her path at restaurant Piaf, directed by Mario Soto, and also took part in the “Best Of France” event. With this experience, she again joined forces with Chef de la Vega for “Best Of Mexico”, and the Congress of the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France.
Her latest feat was the renewal of the Suite Service menu, and today, she leads restaurant Chaká; serving regional Mexican Cuisine.

Mario López

Originally from Mexico City, the big city lifestyle led Mario Lopez to venture to Montreal, Quebec. There he discovered his love for gastronomy, and found himself influenced by different cuisines during his time working in various bistros and restaurants on Mont-Royal Avenue.

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He returned to his country to complete a degree in gastronomy and began to sharpen his skills in a number of restaurants and hotels in the city that had witnessed him grow. His first steps were in Italian restaurants, where he learned the secrets of pasta and the grill. He worked for a significant chain of restaurants called “La Destilería” where he expanded his knowledge of Mexican cuisine. Later, he worked at the trendy boutique hotel Habita, where, alongside Chef Luna Martín, he learned about contemporary cuisine. After finishing his studies, he decided to set off to Los Cabos, where he continued as a Head Chef, exploring new influences in different cuisines.

At the Grand Mayan Los Cabos Hotel, he took charge of the specialty restaurant, implementing a menu of his own, and began to explore the regional cuisines. He actively participated in various gourmet festivals, in a state contest of regional dishes where he won first place, and in the tapas contest carried out by “Proecta”. Later, he was part of a new project in Mazatlán as Executive Chef, where he opened two restaurants for Grupo Vidanta, and was part of the culinary book De Vidanta in the Kitchen. A year later, he was invited to Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort as Executive Sous Chef, where he was involved in the World Economic Forum event that took place at the property, designing menus for the Mexican government, heads of state and participants.

He was invited to participate in a festival of Mexican cuisine held at the Intercontinental Park Lane Hotel in London, England; there, he created a menu of Mexican cuisine for the hotel and collaborated on the A & V Museum cocktail reception, where the Mexican Embassy celebrated the anniversary of Mexico’s Independence in the United Kingdom. He had the opportunity to work closely with the President of the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, Christian Têtedoie; recipient of three Michelin Stars, Claude Le Tohic; and other major chefs such as Claude Godard and Michel Mustière at the “The Best of France Festival” held at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

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