Culinary Experience in Riviera Maya

Prepare to embark on a unique epicurean journey throughout 5 specialty fine dining restaurants awarded with 4 and 5 Diamonds by AAA, 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

Nahúm Velasco

Originally from Mexico City, the cuisine has always held a special place in Nahúm’s heart since childhood. All significant events unfolded in the kitchen of his home, so, at 17, he decided to pursue a career as a chef. He later formalized his training at the Ambrosia Culinary Center, which served as his gateway to Spain.

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Several years later, he found himself in Playa del Carmen, working at the restaurant Cocina de Autor of Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort under the guidance of Xavier Pérez Stone. This restaurant marked a pivotal moment in both his personal and professional life.

Driven by his thirst for knowledge, he ventured to Copenhagen, where he joined chef Rasmus Kofoed at his renowned restaurant, Geranium. After immersing himself in the Nordic culinary scene, he returned to Playa del Carmen to work at Martín Berasategui’s restaurant, Passion. There, he received an invitation from Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza to help lead Cocina de Autor, where he currently works under their mentorship.

In 2024, he ascended to the role of Executive Chef at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. With the arrival of the Michelin Guide to Mexico in the same year, Cocina de Autor was honored with 1 Michelin star.

At Cocina de Autor, Nahúm strives to uphold the values of evolution and creativity while maintaining respect for the ingredients, refining techniques, and demonstrating passion for his craft.

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.

Mikel Alonso

French by birth, Spanish by heritage, Basque at heart, and Mexican by choice, chef Mikel Alonso embodies a unique culinary philosophy: “To be a great chef, you must first be a good person.”

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In his first eight years in Mexico, Mikel worked as the Executive Chef at Tezka (CDMX) alongside chef Bruno Oteiza and under the guidance of Juan Mari Arzak, renowned for his three Michelin-starred restaurant Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain. During this time, Tezka earned a spot at number 75 on S. Pellegrino’s “100 Best Restaurants in the World 2004” list.

Later, Mikel and his partner Bruno launched a new culinary venture called Biko (CDMX), which secured a place on S. Pellegrino’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list for ten consecutive years.

Currently, Mikel is a chef at Cocina de Autor, along with chefs Bruno Oteiza and Nahúm Velasco, located in the prestigious Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort. The restaurant has been awarded 5 Diamonds by the American Automobile Association (AAA) since 2013 and earned a Michelin Star in 2024.

Today, Mikel is part of TGF (The Good Fellows) with Rodrigo Quintanilla and Jonatán Gomez Luna Torres, a group dedicated to innovating in the hotel and culinary sectors of Mexico and the United States. Among their latest projects is the opening of the Culinary Institute by Southwest University in El Paso, Texas, aimed at passing on their culinary knowledge to future generations. Another notable project is Mexta in Austin, Texas, a restaurant that blends traditional Mexican craftsmanship with modern culinary techniques to immerse diners in the essence of Mexico, enhanced by cocktails crafted in the style of Mica Rousseau.

Mikel also designs the menu for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ World Business Class and Premium Comfort cabin on the Mexico-Amsterdam route. 

Building on this success, he created MAG (Mikel Alonso Gastro), a concept for culinary events and consulting, continuing to share his passion for gastronomy.

In addition to being a chef, Mikel is an entrepreneur, advisor, speaker, host, judge, and educator; all this has been part of his successful career spanning over 20 years.

Bruno Oteiza

Bruno Oteiza (San Sebastián, 1970) is a renowned chef in Spain and a television personality. His cuisine, developed through experiences in various Spanish and French restaurants, is rooted in local ingredients. While maintaining a clear traditional base, Oteiza experiments in the kitchen with notable success in his dishes.

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He worked at Tezka restaurant in Mexico City, guided by Juan Mari Arzak, whom he considers his mentor, friend, and the best chef in the world. He owns Biko restaurant in Mexico City, ranked among the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” by the prestigious S. Pellegrino list. He is also a member of the Académie Culinaire de France, one of the most important institutions in the haute cuisine industry.

Bruno is a partner in the D.O. chain in Mexico and one of the creators of Cocina de Autor, a gourmet restaurant at Grand Velas Riviera Maya that holds 1 Michelin Star; it was the first restaurant in an All-Inclusive resort to win the AAA 5 Diamonds, where creative cuisine is celebrated while incorporating flavors from various regions of Mexico, especially the Riviera Maya.

Jhonatan de Jesús Oy Pech

Originally from Izamal, Yucatan, Jhonatan moved to Playa del Carmen at the age of 22 to study at Universidad Tecnológica de la Riviera Maya, where he got a bachelor’s degree in Gastronomy.

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Meals on TV and pictures awakened his passion for cooking since he was a kid, as he used to recreate them employing his colors and flavors. Before Jhonatan started his culinary studies, he decided to work in related areas to know the gastronomic industry widely. And Don Cafeto, a popular restaurant in Tulum, was his first approach to professional cooking.

Chef Issac Esparza, the previous chef of Sen Lin at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, was his university professor. He invited Jonathan to be part of the team at the resort, where he began to develop his culinary abilities in Asian cuisine.

In 2017, Executive Chef Wayu “Light” Wattanakamin (Master Chef in Thailand) joined Sen Lin, and during that period, Jhonatan started to learn about traditional Thai cuisine. He participated in popular events, including “The best of Asia,” where he worked alongside renowned Asian chefs and during the Sen Lin 4-Diamond accolade. His professional experience at Grand Velas Riviera Maya allowed him to take part in the Lucca and Frida restaurants, both located in the same resort.

In 2022, he was invited to become Executive Chef at Sen Lin, where he created his menu with traditional Asian flavors. His modern touch delights guests’ palates as his meals make them feel like they’re enjoying a traditional creation, from a pad thai (similar to Mexican tacos in Thailand) to a Peking duck.

Jhonatan describes his cuisine as “fresh and aromatic ingredients with intense and explosive flavors.”.

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