One of the things that we like to do when exploring new destinations is experience the food culture through festivals and culinary events. While recently visiting Mazatlán, the second-largest city in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, I attended the Culinary Roots event.
People may know Mazatlán for its stunning beaches or its 13-mile-long Malecon, one of the largest beachfront pedestrian paths in the world. What you may not know is that Mazatlán holds many culinary surprises as well.
Mazatlán’s Pacific Coast seafood industry is the largest fresh tuna supplier in Mexico. The town also surprisingly produces 33% of all the food consumed in Mexico. Therefore, with all the fresh fish and produce coming from Mazatlán it makes perfect sense that the Culinary Roots event would celebrate the city’s local cuisine.
This was the second annual Culinary Roots festival held in the beautifully remodeled Mazatlán International Center. The festival showcased culinary professionals from Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Spain, and the United States. Especially relevant to restaurateurs and entrepreneurs from all over Mexico, they attended the event hoping to learn the latest tips on breaking into the competitive food industry.
Highly regarded Mexican chef Marino Maganda is one of the original organizers of Culinary Roots. Chef Maganda is the president of the chef’s group COSINAR. Their purpose is to raise awareness of Sinaloa cuisine and bring it to the world. He has two restaurants in Mazatlán, the more casual Fresco, and the more formal clubby and atmospheric Cafe46. Both are worth a visit when in town.
The four-day event included many planned activities and meetings. Because presentations ranged from cooking demonstrations featuring Mazatlán ingredients to talks on food sustainability and various other educational topics, many culinary students also attended the festival conference events hoping to glean knowledge and meet top chefs they admire and hope to be like.
The opening night festivities kicked off with local dance troupes showing off their skills. The chefs then treated attendees to local dishes prepared just for them. In addition, the chefs rubbed elbows with the attendees to make an especially memorable experience for us all.
Many students stood in line to take photos with their favorite chefs and try their latest dishes. They were all anxious to meet the chefs and taste their creations.
Chefs Share Their Knowledge
The festival is a place where the chefs can highlight the ingredients and cooking techniques they learned in Mazatlán and are bringing to the rest of the world.
We had the chance to see Chef Chad White from Spokane, Washington prepare one of his classic ceviches during the conference. He told the crowd about his interesting career journey. Notably, he started over many times and learned from the ground up. He told students it was important to listen to their teachers and not take shortcuts to be a star.
As we’ve heard from many chefs before, Chef White emphasized the need to concentrate on the ingredients and not make the flavors too complicated. The former Top Chef contestant said that “sometimes making something better may mean reducing the number of ingredients.”
Another presentation included Argentinian Chef Dante Ferrero the “king of cow” roasting an entire cow. This process takes over 22 hours. Sadly, I didn’t get to see the entire process but I was certainly intrigued by it. A little research showed that Chef Ferrero prepares 1,000-plus pound cows at his restaurant Alodé in San Pedro, Monterrey. Hence, this is the ultimate “snout-to-tail” experience, and these cows can serve up to 400 people.
Local wine expert Berenice Madrigal also lent her expertise with a wonderful presentation on the “Sensory Effect of Food Pairing Red Wine and Cheese”.
VIP Cocktail Party
Our press group was fortunate to attend a VIP Cocktail Party at the El Cid El Moro Beach Hotel’s La Concha Restaurant. The lovely outdoor terrace is just steps from the beach. We enjoyed one of the largest buffets of seafood I’ve ever seen. Freshly caught shrimp, oysters, and octopus are all to be enjoyed while listening to the crashing of the waves.
The chefs from Culinary Roots happily mingled with the crowd anxious to meet everyone and share their thoughts on the food scene in Mazatlán They all agreed that the seafood was some of the best in the world with which to work.
Craft Beer Fest
Another event held during the festival was the Craft Beer Fest. Over 25 vendors were on hand showcasing Mexican craft beers. Imagine my surprise to find young ladies dressed in dirndls in Mexico! For a brief moment, I thought I was back at Oktoberfest.
Learning and Growing at Culinary Roots
My biggest takeaway from Culinary Roots was the depth and breadth of sharing knowledge that occurred. The students all seemed so eager to learn and absorb as much as they could from the chefs and business managers.
The presenters were also generously eager to share their wisdom with the students. They wanted the audience to know that with their help Mazatlán can continue to build its reputation as a sought-after culinary destination.
Culinary Roots is an event that would certainly be of interest to any culinary travel enthusiast. Whether you’re a Food Travelist, international chef, or someone learning how to increase the culinary arts in your town you will find it an interesting and worthwhile adventure. All the chefs made themselves available for questions and conversation. That alone makes this event one you won’t want to miss.
For additional information on Culinary Roots, you can read more on their website raicesculinarias.mx.
THE QUICK BITE: Culinary Roots Festival in Mazatlán is a wonderful way to learn more about the delicious flavors and food products ofMazatlán, Mexico. Everyone from consumers to culinary students will find the events interesting and entertaining.