Los Cabos - A Responsible Gastronomic Mecca Overlooking the Sea of Cortez
By: Executive Chef Alex Branch, Acre Restaurant
Banner Photo Credit: LA76 Photography
Enjoy rare insights into the creative mind of Executive Chef Alex Branch, from Acre Restaurant. Alex shares his culinary musings and reveals an original fishing technique that he has developed alongside a local master fisherman in an effort to promote sustainability, creativity and best practices within the gastronomic community of Los Cabos.
In recent years Los Cabos has become an important destination for national and international travelers thanks to its combination of perfect weather, spectacular vistas and sunsets as well as, of course, its gastronomy. Thanks to the Sea of Cortez, or the world’s aquarium according to Jacques Cousteau, Los Cabos has the added advantage that allows us, the chefs, to offer fresh high-quality seafood and produce which, when meticulously plated and accompanied by each individual’s creative touch, transcend frontiers.
Until recently, Mexicans have typically discarded Los Cabos as a foreign tourist haven, whose best restaurant practices seemed to focus heavily on satisfying the palates of foreigners. This resulted in raw ingredients being imported into Cabo and practically zero local harvesting.
Today, we’re experiencing a veritable restaurant rejuvenation as we are focused on fresh, locally sourced organic produce. We are reinventing the older restaurants with fresher, locally sourced and organic products, as well as opening new restaurants with that same focus, giving vegetables, the local foods, and the ecology a fundamental importance. Combining this exciting new community-focused trend with a recent surge of new restaurants throughout Los Cabos, there has been a fundamental shift towards local ecological sustainability. Thanks to the ever-growing influence of social media, and these subtle changes in practices within the local restaurant community, Los Cabos is rapidly trending as a premier gastronomy destination.
The Evolution of Travel Trends
Recent travel trend studies for 2020 conducted by Booking.com show more than 55% of world- wide travelers are seeking eco-friendly, sustainable travel experiences (a factor which was not important for the majority of people polled last year). Additionally, 70% of the world’s travelers are more inclined to choose a destination by its environmental stance.
What Does This Tell Us?
The growth trend that we are experiencing, both as a destination and statewide, invites us to promote the use of local food sources, ¨farm to table¨ where the food comes from the restaurant’s own fields like we do at Acre, responsible fishing that respects protected breeding grounds, and seasonality among others. This allows the food consumed in Los Cabos to be fresher, natural, and consequently, of better quality. This has captivated visitors and positioned us as an ideal destination to enjoy fine food. Because we are a beach destination, our gastronomical objective is to offer a quality guarantee, which combined with the incredible kitchens of well recognized chefs like Enrique Olvera, Jean George Vongerichten, Richard Sandoval, Martin Berasategui, among others, permit us to grow and be cutting edge in Mexico´s gastronomic scene; in terms of innovation, responsibility and sustainability.
Clearly tourism is evolving, and our clients are searching for options based on their values and beliefs, and not just on price or location. The fish farms of La Paz, the organic farming at Acre, Pescadero, Miraflores and Santiago, to mention just a few, as well as the recent statewide prohibition of the use of Styrofoam packaging, talk of the great commitment, to which private initiatives join in, to make this a responsible gastronomic mecca. Growing as a destination obliges us to protect this environment so we can enjoy its benefits every day. Environmental conservation and caring for the environment, as well as the responsible use without harm of its resources, are a priority for the government, and also for the travelers who look for an experience that not only doesn’t affect the environment, but rather, one that protects it.
At Acre, we are part of the movement where community and sustainability are pillars. Inspired by continuous learning and knowing the constant need for high-quality products for high-end kitchens, Ezequiel Hernández of the high-end fish distributor JA MAT' and I developed a fishing technique called Shuketzu, which strengthens the concept of a sustainable kitchen and allows us to have impeccable fish. Shuketzu is born from a Japanese technique called Ikejime and came about from a constant mutual search for restaurants and suppliers with a vision of excellence. Currently both Acre and I have supported JA MAT' in its training courses for local fishermen to strive for excellence by practicing this technique, which consists of provoking cerebral death of the fish to avoid needless suffering, and in bleeding out the fish before it’s placed in a “snow” ice bath. This process creates a series of benefits in a chain reaction: the fishermen get paid more because the fishing is only done with hooks, the fish population is better balanced–instead of looking for specific types of fish, you keep whatever the sea delivered that day, Acre Baja gets the best fish in the Los Cabos area serving only sashimi-quality fish, and JA MAT' fulfills its mission to train the participants to practice social and environmental responsibility. Small ideas are like snowballs that expand and can come to benefit everyone.
And we don’t stop at fishing and local harvesting; we are also home to Acre Dogs, a dog sanctuary, where we have already re-homed over rescue 115 dogs. A wander through the Acre grounds will also reveal a growing bevy of farm animals, pygmy dwarf goats, peacocks, and more recently a foray into sustainable on-site home construction. Our objective is to mindfully collaborate as much as we can, in synergy with this beautiful destination and our colleagues, to achieve a balance between responsible tourism and the magnificent gastronomy we now offer.
A Sense of Community
The creation of opportunities, like San José del Cabo Restaurant Week, is a great way to promote our destinations’ gastronomy. Molded much like other cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and others, San José del Cabo Restaurant Week puts the culinary offerings of San José del Cabo at anybody’s reach by having all the participating restaurants offer a set three course menu for the same price. This puts the guest’s appetites in front and their wallets in the back (pun intended). Look for San José Restaurant week on October 19th through the 26th. Enjoy the official list of restaurants participating in San José del Cabo Restaurant Week below:
El Beer Shop
La Carreta Los Cabos
Pan di Bacco SJC
Mama Mia Los Cabos
THE SHOPPES AT PALMILLA
Tenangos Los Cabos
PLAZA DEL PESCADOR
PUERTO LOS CABOS
Buzzard's Bar and Grill
Café des Artistes Los Cabos
Hotel El Ganzo
La Marina Inn George´s Restaurant
La Ostra Cocina Del Mar
Visit www.RestaurantWeekSanJoseDelCabo.com for more information.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO downtown area
Baja Brewing Company
Barrio de Tango
Casa Calavera Los Cabos
Casa San José 23400
Chamuyo San José
Don Sanchez Los Cabos
French Riviera Restaurant Bakery Bar Catering
Habanero's Gastro Grill
Javier´s Los Cabos
La Dolce Ristorante Italiano, San José Del Cabo
La Revolución Comedor de Baja California
Las Cazuelas del Don
Macca Pasta Bar
Mi Casa Restaurant
Mi Cocina at Hotel Casa Natalia
Mi Vegano Favorito