Young Mexican chef creating delicious dishes without the footprint
Mexican chef Jorge Vallejo’s star is certainly rising. Kicking off his career on cruise ships, he had a thorough training under Enrique Olvera in Mexico City and a brief stint at Noma with René Redzepi before opening Quintonil in 2012 with his wife Alejandra Flores, who runs the front of house. The restaurant has since won numerous accolades, jumping to No. 10 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 and making its debut on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list this year as the second-highest Mexican restaurant, behind former employer Pujol.
Located in the well-heeled and leafy district of Polanco, this unprepossessing restaurant focuses on fresh seasonal ingredients, forgotten herbs and grains, and indigenous produce. Though meat is a feature on the tasting menu, Vallejo aims to highlight the value of fruit and vegetables, as much for their flavour as for their nutritional value. Dishes on the tasting menu include huazontles, a green vegetable that vaguely resembles broccoli, with chiapas cheese and red tomato, and nopal cactus snow.
With a strong commitment to reducing the ecological footprint of its food, Quintonil also sources much of its produce from its own urban orchard. While the majority of food in Mexico travels on average some 2,500 km from origin to plate, at Quintonil much of it is picked on a daily basis and travels just 30 metres.