Chefs’ Choice Award 2016, sponsored by Estrella Damm

Guillermo González Beristaín

Monterrey chef who embraces global influences while promoting Mexican gastronomy

Guillermo González Beristaín is an internationalist: born in Baja California, his culinary education took place in the US; he trained in France and Spain; he has restaurants that specialise in Italian and Chinese cuisines, among others. On top of that, this articulate chef has appeared extensively at gourmet festivals worldwide, speaks several languages, collaborates with fellow chefs around the globe and is an advocate of travelling to learn more about other cultures through food.

At the same time, he has created a restaurant group of power and influence which is all grounded in his adopted home city of Monterrey in north-eastern Mexico. Beginning with the opening of Pangea – the original and still the flagship of the group – back in 1998, González has been at the forefront of Mexican dining for almost two decades. Over that period, Grupo Pangea has grown to include the wood-fired Italian eatery Vasto, the unmistakably French Bistro Bardot, fusion restaurant Chino Latino, gourmet Mexican dining at La Embajada, an outside catering business and the expanding casual concept La Felix, with plans for more concepts to come.

At Pangea itself, the chef-restaurateur first brought European and specifically French techniques to bear on local ingredients to create a new portfolio of dishes, helping pave the way for numerous younger chefs across Latin America to follow a similar path. His creations span superb seafood dishes such as grilled octopus with chickpea stew, through to much-vaunted kid goat braised in ale. In 2016, the restaurant shows no sign of losing its reputation as the best in Monterrey, and one of the finest in Latin America as a whole.

Not content with such multi-faceted ventures, González has also been a passionate advocate of and ambassador for the youthful but increasingly respected Mexican wine sector. Pangea has its own wine shop, La Esquina de Pangea, as well as one of the finest wine lists (and cellars) in the country. And to ensure all tastes are catered for, he has even co-developed a local craft ale.

Popular with diners and hugely respected by fellow professionals not only in Mexico but across Americas North and South – and beyond – he is thus a natural winner of the Chefs’ Choice Award. González has recently become a judge on the TV show Top Chef Mexico, but for many he continues to hold that title himself.

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