Quintonil: A Portrait of Gastronomic Excellence
As already mentioned in recent articles, Mexico City is honored to be home to three of the 50 best restaurants in the world, according to San Pellegrino. Out of these three places, Quintonil stands out for making it to the list for the first time in 2015, even though it received many national and international distinctions before. In order to know more of this innovative place, My Guide Mexico City interviewed Chef Jorge Vallejo, who, along with his wife, Alejandra Flores, opened this fantastic place, a portrait of the gastronomic excellence in Mexico.
The mind behind: At a young age, Jorge has achieved incomparable success and international prestige. He studied Administration and Culinary Arts in Ambrosía Academy, in Mexico City. Afterwards, he had the chance to work for international chains of hotels and cruises, as well as in some of the best restaurants in the world, such as Pujol, in Mexico City, and Noma, in Copenhagen (considered number one of the world for three consecutive years). In 2012, Jorge opened what was about to become the favorite place for many people: Quintonil.
The origins: Jorge shares that he always wanted to establish a restaurant with Alejandra. “Suddenly, the opportunity came along and we only had in mind a place of Mexican cuisine because both of us are from Mexico, we grew up with these flavors, our families are from here and the logic thing to do was to follow our reference of growth and life”.
Traditional food with a personal view: Many websites and magazines describe Quintonil’s cuisine as “the new Mexican cuisine”. However, Jorge redresses this conceptualization and describes the way he pictures his restaurant: “We cook Mexican food with a personal view which, in my opinion, is humble and simple. It is my own vision, my point of view, my contribution to the gastronomic scene and what I want to share with the customer… It is a very familiar cuisine with no further aspirations”. In addition, he has managed to offer a warm, close and pleasant service in Quintonil.
Food with emotion. Jorge affirms that his goal with his clients is “to tell them what it means for me to be Mexican. It is important for me to create a dialogue, if it is not a direct one between the cook and the client, then one between the food and the commensal in order to share with the latter a personal story, which could be part of the Mexican collective memory as we all share stories: with our grandmas, about trips or the walks in the markets. In a way, I play with Mexican nostalgia; the food brings back a moment in your life and creates emotions, because in the end, food is about emotions and it has to fulfill your spirit. That’s what we try to do here”.
In the middle of a gastronomic boom.In recent times, people have talked about a “boom” in Mexico City’s gastronomy. However, Jorge thinks that this is not something new. “We, the inhabitants of Mexico City, have always had this great energy in street-food places and restaurants, but now people have come to realize that the gastronomic scene that this city offers from any perspective –from the fancy dining tables to the kitchens in the neighborhoods, from the street food to the markets– is just infinite and delicious”.
With this overwhelming gastronomic offer, Jorge describes the elements that distinguish Quintonil: “We have a very clear point of view and vision. We are in the process of introspection, in search of getting closer to our history, to our ingredients and our traditions, and express them in a fresh, free and festive way, without paradigms or stereotypes. We have our Mexicanity printed on our skin”.
Fresher? Impossible! A characteristic of Quintonil is the excellence and freshness of its products. They have their own vegetable gardens and they work with local producers from around the city and other provinces, such as Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacan, the State of Mexico and even Baja California. “As a result of our affection to the best-quality products, our food is tasty, distinguishable, sustainable and in perfect match with our design”. This ethical vision is a plus at Quintonil. “Cooking is not just a simple act of feeding; it becomes a social and cultural act in which you must understand that everything served on the table affects not only the restaurant or the client, but everyone involved, including local producers”.
Constant renovation. Quintonil constantly renews its menu. Jorge says that his clients come back frequently. “As a gesture of gratitude, we always have new things for our customers in order to make them feel that every time they come is their first time here”. At the same time, this also represents a huge challenge for Jorge and his team, as they constantly have to innovate with new and original dishes.
International image: Thanks to his international experience, Jorge knows that there is great fascination and curiosity abroad around Mexican food. “When foreign people come to Mexico City, they want to try all the places that make this city unique. The dishes here are not only dishes, but ways to eat. There are dishes eaten only with a spoon, there are tacos, there is a whole range of ways to eat that at the same time match perfectly among them and are tremendously inclusive. As this city is the center of Mexico, we have a bit of the best of the country; we have influences and products from everywhere that allow us to have an exceptional variety and to include every single visitor”.
An open invitation: Jorge wants this city to continue its consolidation as a global gastronomic destination, for which he invites everyone to visit it. “People must find the opportunity to come; they must get rid of the stereotypes of an insecure country. The quality of Mexican people is incomparable. Everyone who visits this country falls in love with it, especially with its people. So, everyone should get the chance to come and try what we do here, for they are not going to regret it”.
You can follow Quintonil at its website and social networks: