Chef Jorge Vallejo
# 22 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2017
Visited: June 3rd, 2017 – Lunch Service
Quintonil is a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Mexico City where it epitomizes the elegance, finesse, and humility of Mexican cuisine. It is a restaurant where the Chef’s passion for highlighting Mexican ingredients transcends blissfully into his dishes. It was a culinary experience that was unpretentious and pure.
The restaurant is named after a wild green Mexican Herb called “Quintonil” that is native to Oaxaca. The name perfectly reflects the Chef’s utilization of Mexican herbs that are deeply rooted in his dishes and his reverence to locally sourced ingredients that showcases the culinary diversity of Mexico.
Quintonil opened in March of 2012 headed by the talented Chef Jorge Vallejo along with his wife, Alejandra Flores who oversees the front of the house and administration. Chef Vallejo garnered his culinary experiences from working at restaurants around the world including Santceloni in Madrid and Noma in Copenhagen. In Mexico City, he cultivated his elegant style as the Executive Chef at Restaurante Diana at the St. Regis Hotel. Most importantly, Chef Vallejo worked at Pujol and was mentored by Chef Enrique Olvera where he learned the intricacies of Mexican food. Since 2012, Quintonil’s accomplishments have been recognized by both local and international publications, most notably it has been consistently ranked as one of the best by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants since 2015.
Hearkening back to the heart of Mexican cuisine, our journey at Quintonil began with an amuse-bouche consisting of freshly-made blue corn tortillas along with salsa rojo, salsa de habenero and frijoles. This version of amuse-bouche was very charming and deeply rooted to the home cooking of everyday Mexican cuisine, bringing my husband back to his own childhood.
Presentation of Cuitlachoche
Nixtamalization is a method of processing maize and grains which can be traced back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. The process begins by soaking maize in an alkaline solution of limewater or woodash, which then increases the bioavailability of niacin and proteins and also reduces toxins found in moldy corn. This method produces maize products that are softer and easily ground, with higher nutritional values, deeper flavours and aromas.
Presentation of Duck
We ordered tea to finish our marvelous meal at Quintonil. Low and behold that they brought us a tray containing of different bunches and combinations of herbs and leaves that they grow in their own garden.
Kitchen Tour and Meeting the Chefs
Chef Jorge Vallejo was in Europe during our visit at Quintonil. Instead, we met Chef de Cuisine Klaus Mayr, Jorge’s wing-man and a rock-star in his own right from working at notable kitchens all over the world. Not only he was plating and finishing the dishes, but he was also running the dishes to our table, busing tables as he went, and was explaining every course in detail. Thank you very much Chef Klaus for taking care of us!
Our experience at Quintonil was truly outstanding. The food was as impressive as the warm hospitality we received from the friendly team. Every dish possessed a trace of a humble home cooked feel, yet the execution proved a sophisticated level of elegance and finesse. Every dish was unmistakably Mexican and hearing the many stories and origins of the dishes from the knowledgeable staff made every dish much more appealing and endearing.
What I appreciate the most about this experience was learning about the diverse bounty of Mexican ingredients while enjoying their flavours and aromas at the same time. Chef Jorge and his team created a gastronomic adventure through the many flavours, layers, and methods of Mexican cuisine. This experience takes you through the many regions of Mexico – seafood and duck from Baja California, chile from Mixe, salbut from the Yucatán, nicuatole from Oaxaca, and many more.
Chef Jorge told a beautiful and humble story of Mexico through his food that was exquisite and elegant.
Eating at Quintonil is a must when visiting Mexico City.