Position: Executive Chef
Years in the industry: 15
Notable awards / Employers: Starwood Hotels, Rosewood Hotels, Capella Hotel Group, 5 Diamond Award at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, 5 Diamond Award at Capella Pedregal , 5 Diamond Award at The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort.
Everyone has a story. Tell us how you knew you wanted to become a Chef?
I’m passionate about cooking. I can say that what caught my attention was the fact that you have the opportunity to travel, work and know everyone in this profession. The first influences came from my great-grandmother and grandmother both of italian descent and my paternal grandmother of Romanian/Hungarian descent who was very good at preparing traditional European pastries.
What is your most memorable meal or food related memory?
Salsa gnocchi with tomato and fresh parmesan cheese from my grandmother Rosa.
What are the most important things you must do as a leader in the kitchen?
Discipline, attention to detail, leading by example, knowing when to listen and learn, be open to new interpretations and different views, positive thinking, consistency, and the most important one is perseverance…
What are the most difficult and rewarding things about being a chef?
It is the time that one sacrifices being away from one’s family to be successful in this industry. The most rewarding thing is to see how people’s work evolves and for them to achieve success.
What is your food philosophy?
“Less is more”. Less is more because not all things have to be complicated. Like Jim Rohn says, “To be successful you have to do extraordinary things. Do ordinary things extraordinarily well”.
How large of a team do you oversee?
Staffing varies by the season but for the months with higher occupancy, we manage a team of approximately 70 kitchen personnel.
What is your claim to fame?
I am originally from Argentina so to me, there is no better way to cook something than with wood. I believe that if someone has mastered the art of working with wood on a grill or stove and get that perfect caramelized and smokey flavor, they can master any type of cuisine.
What type of cuisine do you serve at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort?
St. Regis Punta Mita Resort serves a variety of cuisines to give our guests choices to select from during their stay, which is typically long. Restaurant Carolina serves Contemporary Mexican cuisine, Sea Breeze Restaurant serves Bistro Latino, Mary Mita Boat is our Seafood Grill, Marietas serves Traditional Mexican, our Private Dining has international cuisine and Altamira serves Cantina Gourmet.
You’ve travelled from Mexico, Chicago, and Argentina to name a few! What brought you to those areas?
Traveling was one of the reasons I chose this career and I think by moving around the world, I will continue to learn throughout my life.
How important is it for chefs to experience kitchens outside of their own country?
It’s always important to learn from other countries because it enriches your gastronomy and knowledge. For example, when you think of Latin American cuisine you can tell the differences between tamales from Argentina and Mexico. There are different preparation processes or methods of cooking and even different types of flour or names but eventually all made from corn and very similar.
What do you look for in potential team members?
Above all, I seek people with discipline, attention to detail, positivity, consistency, and those who are hungry to keep learning. They want to learn from their mistakes and are accepting of different points of view. They are the example and lead by example. Lastly, be persistent.
If you could change one thing about the food industry, what would it be?
I wish there wasn’t as much genetic manipulation to the otherwise natural products.
What are your pet peeves in the kitchen at home, a friend’s kitchen, and at work?
Organization. I enjoy what I do and cook with passion regardless what my surroundings may be.
Where do you get your ingredients? Do you have farmers & local purveyors in your area that you recommend?
Our ingredients are from Mexico and 90% are from large suppliers who manage farms, fishermen and local suppliers. I think that we must have a good balance to maintain a stable economy.
Who were your culinary role models growing up and who are they today?
I highly appreciate one Chef in particular, Santi Santamaria, who appreciated the use of local, seasonal and gourmet sincerity. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us.
What is your definition of success in our industry?
To me, success is to make my team succeed, because if they are successful I will be successful. It’s about working as a team!
What are your goals?
My goals are to continue developing with my team at The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort to provide memorable experiences for our customers. My long term goals are to continue within Starwood and grow with the company. My goal in life is to be happy with my family.
What’s next for you and the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort?
We are organizing the closure of 2015 and the next edition of Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic 2016 taking place January 28-30, 2016.
Learn more about Chef Gabriel Kolofon on his Chef’s Roll profile here.
Are you a Chef, Culinary Photographer, Food Stylist, Food Blogger, Farmer, or other Culinary Professional? Join & be featured on our network HERE