Chef Luis Armando Mukul

Title: Chef, Gastro Bar by Martín Berasategui
City: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

What does it take to be the right hand of one of the most important chefs in the on the planet? Two things: confidence in one’s skills and humility. With fifteen restaurants and ten Michelin stars, Basque Chef Martín Berasategui is in a class all his own, yet he could not have achieved such unprecedented success without his dream-team of Chefs around the globe who lead the charge in his kitchens.

Three of Berasategui’s restaurants are in Mexico: Passion, Tempo and Gastro Bar. In Cabo San Lucas’ Gastro Bar, Armando Mukul, a young chef from Quintana Roo holds the reins. Armando climbed the ranks in various hotel kitchens since he was 17 years old. He earned the respect of Berasategui as a cook in Passion, his first restaurant in Mexico. With respect came the opportunity to lead Gastro Bar and to infuse a Mexican vibe to the Basque menu with seasonal variations and new techniques.

That brings me to the second of two qualities needed to measure up to Berasategui’s high bar: humility. Chef Armando is the antidote to the overdose of celebrity chef egos we all endure. He doesn’t create the vision for Gastro Bar, but he makes the vision reality. He isn’t the designer of Basque dishes, but he enhances them with Mexican touches. He isn’t the mastermind, but he is masterfully teaching a kitchen of very young and promising cooks to deliver on the Berasategui name.

I have had the chance to dine at Gastro Bar several times and even visited Chef Armando’s kitchen. Always the essence of graciousness, he kindly agreed to share his answers to the Chat…

Mexican food aside, which cuisine most excites you and why?
Indian food is one of my favorites because the flavors are heavily spiced and resemble some elements of Yucatecan cuisine with heat and intense flavors. Since I come from Yucatecan parents, it is a very unique flavor which I personally love.

What meal most reminds you of your childhood? Who prepared it?
A typical dish of the Yucatan, relleno negro. It is something that reminds me of the family parties we made when my aunts prepared it together with my grandmother to receive the new year.

What culinary trend/fad do you refuse to follow?
I believe that there is no trend that I refuse to continue. I am more inclined to think that that a good kitchen well speaks beyond new fashions. Using a solid base of sauces or broths, it can create a novel dish. This is when we find creativity and we can play with imagination as cooks.

If there was a soundtrack for your work life, who are the musicians/groups on the recording?
I have a favorite song that I love and it motivates me a lot, from a singer called Quique Neira – Alma.

Where will I find you on your day off?
Possibly somewhere near the beach before sunset with a beer and a good snack.

As an EATER, what is the food you most crave when…

  • …you are sick with a cold?
    A good chicken soup. And even better if it is with the taste of home.
    • …it is your special day and someone else is treating you or cooking for you?
      A good pasta accompanied by a wine, is something that I love and often prepare myself on special occasions.
    • …you are out late partying?
      Tacos, accompanied by some good spicy salsas and one last beer before bedtime.
    • …you are hungover?A good aguachile of shrimp and a clamato preparado to repair the damage of a night before.