Not yet 50 years old, Guillermo González Beristáin has packed more than the average lifetime’s work into his professional career to date. So far, the widely respected chef has – after training and working in a number of countries – notched up the following: overseeing one of Mexico’s finest restaurants, Pangea, for almost two decades; opening a slew of different restaurant concepts; developing an acclaimed craft beer range and co-founding a successful winery. Simultaneously – and in part through those myriad achievements – he has acted as an unofficial ambassador for Mexican food and drink on an international scale.
Born in Ensenada in Mexico’s way-out-west Baja California region, like many before and since, González Beristáin fell into cooking via summer jobs washing pots. He went north to continue his formal culinary education in the US before heading east over the Atlantic to the gastronomic meccas of France and Spain to learn from European masters early in his career.
Since returning to Mexico in the mid-90s, he has made Monterrey, in the north-east of the country, his home – and over the last two decades has led the transformation of the city’s restaurant scene. His Grupo Pangea now numbers numerous establishments, each with a different international flavour: Vasto majors on wood-fired Italian dishes; the recently revamped Bistro Bardot has an unmistakably French accent; Chino Latino channels a mix of Chinese and Latin influences; La Embajada is pure Mexican. The group’s Mexican street food mini-chain, La Felix, currently has three outlets and is expanding across the region.
However, it is at Pangea itself, which opened in 1998, that this self-effacing chef has made his most striking gastronomic mark. While the menu is grounded in classical French cooking, González Beristáin was one of the first to marry European techniques with traditional Mexican ingredients to such sophisticated effect. In the process, he has helped raise both the quality and perception of Mexican food, loyally supported and promoted local produce, introduced sustainable practices and paved the way for younger chefs to follow a similar path.
A regular in the upper tier of the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, Pangea serves dishes such as sous-vide duck breast with date mole and foie gras sauce, as well as its signature kid goat – a staple of the region – braised in Bocanegra dark ale with porcini mushrooms. By the end of 2017, the restaurant will move location to a new, larger space in an up-and-coming area of Monterrey in order for the chef and his team to begin writing its next chapter.
Urbane, multi-lingual and exquisitely mannered, González Beristáin is frequently asked to speak at events, collaborate with chefs internationally and represent his city, region and country. A passionate advocate of the fast-rising Mexican wine sector, he co-owns a winemaking business back in Baja California. Appropriately, Pangea has its own wine shop, La Esquina de Pangea, as well as one of the finest wine lists (and cellars) in the country.
It’s a canon of work that deserves applause and recognition in the shape of The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award for Latin America. And there are no signs of the 2017 recipient putting his feet up any time soon.
Bosques del Valle 110-20
Colonia Bosques del Valle
San Pedro Garza Garcia
+52 81 8114 6601
Go inside Pangea with chef González Beristáin:
González Beristáin will collect his award the fifth annual Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in Bogotá on October 24th. Watch the ceremony live on Facebook and follow the countdown on Twitter.