AND 35th joint Diner de l’Amitié with the ACADÉMIE CULINAIRE DE FRANCE

June 17th-21st, 2017

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is hosting the 53rd Annual Congress of the North American Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (MCF-USA) and the 35th Diner de l’Amitié with the Académie Culinaire de France (ACF) from June 17th to 21st, 2017. This grand event will convene, for the first time in Mexico, over one hundred prestigious chefs from the United States, Canada and Mexico.


Founded on January 1, 1949, the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France association is a prestigious Paris-based association of chefs whose motto is “to preserve and spread the French culinary arts, encourage training in cuisine, and assist professional development.” Members are all French, are savory Chefs, all underwent the same rigourous culinary training and sat the same basic Apprenticeship exam in the Culinary Arts. To this day, the MCFs in France still train savory and pastry apprentices in their kitchens, organize and oversee the Concours du Meilleur Apprenti de France yearly – transmitting their knowledge and work ethic to the future generations in the work space and in culinary schools.

For the past 60 years, the association has very selectively bestowed the most envied title to which chefs aspire – Master Chef of France. At this time, there are 7 recipients in Mexico, 87 in the United States-Canada, and 500 worldwide. Michelin-starred Chef Christian Têtedoie, “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”, is the president of Maîtres Cuisiniers de France while Chef Jean-Louis Dumonet heads the US-Canada delegation. They will both preside over the 2017 Riviera Maya congress.

The Universal Union for the Progress of the Culinary Arts was founded in 1879 by Joseph Favre, and 80 chapters were formed around the world. The Paris chapter took on the name “Académie de Cuisine” on May 26 1883. In 1888, in order to represent better the evolution and modern practice of cuisine, the name of the organization was changed to l’Académie Culinaire de France. The New York delegation’s first A.C.F. president in 1888 was Edouard Moisson.

Today the Académie Culinaire de France is present in each and all continents worldwide, and is 1080 members strong. The American delegation is represented by more than 100 pastry and kitchen chefs.

Chef Fabrice Prochasson, “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”, is the current president of l’Académie Culinaire de France and Chef Jean-Louis Gerin is the president of the US delegation.


Guest Chefs

The Congress will welcome some of Mexico’s best chefs as special guests. The event intends to establish a bilateral relationship between French and Mexican chefs, as well as strengthen the relationship between both cuisines.

The Mexican chefs will host a welcome dinner for their French counterparts. It will be the perfect opportunity for them to showcase the flavors, diversity of ingredients and history behind their treasured Mexican cuisine.

Chef Carlos Gaytan’s culinary journey has been one of hard work, persistence and dedication. He moved to Chicago in 1991 to begin a career at Sheraton North Shore Hotel, quickly working his way up from pantry cook and line cook to banquet cook during his first year of employment.

He was promoted to Chef Garde Manger and discovered an artistic and creative ability to carve on ice, fruit and vegetables, thus he took part in many food and ice carving competitions, winning several awards.

In April of 2004 he was offered the position Chef de Cuisine at Bistrot Margot where he worked tirelessly and passionately; he has worked with renowned French Chef Dominique Tougne and has participated at prestigious events such as Confrerie de la Chaide de Rotisseurs, the Moet and Chandon Brunch and the Annual Flora Springs Dinner Auction in Napa Valley.

Mexique restaurant has received many accolades and recognitions along the years; CS Magazine has included it among best restaurants list in Chicago; it was listed one of the top new restaurants of 2009 and best restaurant in 2010 by Chicago Magazine; in 2011 Chef Gaytan received the Chef of the Year Award by American Culinary Federation, Windy City Chapter for his extraordinary achievements; He was honored as invited chef in Chicago Gourmet in its last three editions and was chosen as one of the five Taste of Chicago Celebrity Chefs in the 2012.

Chef Gaytan currently shares his knowledge and passion for cooking at the Kendall College Culinary School where he has a Chair in Regional Mexican Cuisine.

Daniel Ovadia is one of the most restless and tenacious chefs of Mexico. His sparkling cuisine and personality make it clear that creativity is part of his makeup. Being a passionate about what he does, his recipes –always in search for perfection– surprise and please his guests, who return and recommend.

His flagship restaurant, Paxia, remained among the best in the country during the 10 years the restaurant opened its doors to the public. After that, he added several recognitions and started new projects and edited the book “Daniel Ovadia’s Kitchen” (Larousse, 2013). The book showcases the story and trajectory of Daniel in the Mexican kitchen.

In 2016, he was honored with the "Achievement Award for Restaurateurs” awarded by CANIRAC, recognizing his culinary virtues as well as his mature, diversified and developed restaurateur skills.

His restaurants delight gourmands with a number of specialties: Nudo Negro, Merkavá: Humusiya & Jerusalem Kitchen, Pewter, Calaca Island, Punta Corcho, Cranker Sports Bar, Paragüero and Dao: Sushi & Asian Kitchen.

French by birth, Spanish of origin, Basque by heart and Mexican by conviction, Chef Mikel Alonso has earned respect among his colleagues and the admiration of his followers for his humbleness and passion for culinary arts: an inspiration for the new generations.

His personality, passion, knowledge and experience have led him to be one of the most recognized chefs worldwide. His philosophy is summarized in a basic concept: "You must start by being a good person in order to be a good cook." He adopted this phrase as his motto during the time he spent at the prestigious Cooking School of Luis Irizar (San Sebastián, Spain).

Since 2007, Chef Alonso has been co-owner of the restaurant Biko, which features a new culinary identity called "Cocina Gatxupa,” a mestizo cuisine that marks a balance between the Basque and Mexican gastronomic cultures. His restaurant has been listed for nine consecutive years in S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants. In 2013, Biko was awarded as the Best of the Best, presented by the magazine Travel & Leisure, at the Gourmet Awards.

He is currently the advisor chef for Cocina de Autor Restaurant –the only restaurant in the world within an all inclusive hotel to have the AAA Five Diamond rating.

Chef Tellez is a self-declared passionate for food and has strived to raise awareness about its nutrition force and the joy it brings to our daily lives. With an insatiable, curious and always-seeking character, Chef Zahie looks for constant innovative techniques to include in her creations: the dining experience she offers is a perfect blend of the gastronomic influence from her culinary studies in many parts of the world and her travels, including Italian, Mexican as well as her Lebanese-Mexican roots.

Her knowledge, empathy, good speaker abilities and confident presence have led her to share her passion and culinary insights through television media with six seasons at The Gourmet by Discovery Home And Health, as well as invitations to participate in The Chew. She has also taught international undergraduate courses (CEESA https://www.ceesa.org/), made countless demonstrations and presentations at food festivals abroad (India, Italy, Canada) and has guided several food appreciation and pairing events.

Chef Zahie is a successful entrepreneur; her restaurant “Jose Guadalupe Platos de Cuchara” offers a modern, high-quality Mexican cuisine and she is an active promoter in Mexico of the non-profit international platform –Parabere- making strides for the role of women as culinary professionals.

Chef Alejandro Heredia is considered an icon of Mexican gastronomy; he has trained and inspired an entire generation of Mexican chefs

Named "Best Chef of the 20th Century" at the First International Congress of Chefs in the New Millennium in 2000, Chef Heredia has been a member of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs since 1986; member of the Club Vatel since 1994, and the Culinary Academy of France since 1995.

He has been honored with "The Key of Progress" in 2001; "Five Star Diamond Award" in 2002 by The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and "Chef of the Year” in 2003 by Club Vatel in Mexico Club.

Chef Heredia has participated in several gastronomic festivals around the world such as “The Festival” in Zurich, Switzerland; "Palace Athene" in France; "Europalia" in Brussels; “Montreal Festival in Lumiere”, Canada; “Inter-American Symposium on Gastronomy Festival”; “Mexican cuisine” in Torre Caballeros and Segovia in Spain. Other important sites he has visited, include Milan; Singapore; Bombay; New Delhi and Japan.

Starting at a very young age, Chef Perez soon knew his passion laid on creating culinary experiences: his father, who was a chef by hobby and hunter by passion, taught him to overcome the fear he felt for prey’s blood; his grandmothers used to take him to the markets, where he learnt to choose vegetables and fish correctly, as well as their preparation.

He worked in a chicken butcher shop, distributing and filling orders. He then enrolled in the Pan American School of Hospitality to study Restaurant Management. There he met the director of the university, who made him do a short “stage” in the restaurant of Bruno Oteiza, called La Barandilla. From there he jumped to Tezca, where he was invited to support Juan Mari Arzak during his second visit to Mexico.

Chef Perez had the opportunity to travel the world for five years before being transferred to his native country with Chef Arzak to move afterwards to Stockholm with Mathias Dahlgren. He returned to Mexico for the opening of Tezka Pedregal, where he became Head Chef and then became Executive Sous Chef of the Royal Pedregal Hotel.

The opportunity to start his own project came, and he opened Alaia Restaurant. He resumed his friendship with Mikel Alonso and continued to be a follower of Chef Bruno Oteiza; he joined them to carry out the concept of Cocina de Autor restaurant at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

Born in Mexico City, chef Ricardo de la Vega began his gastronomic adventure as a kitchen assistant in several restaurants around his hometown. He has mastered this passion for culinary art working in hotels in many parts of Mexico such as Puebla, Oaxaca, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

He joined Grand Velas Riviera Maya as the Executive Chef of the 5-Diamond by AAA restaurant of Mexican Specialties: Frida. His dream has been to explore the vast Mexican cuisine and delight people from around the world with culinary creations of his country, named Intangible Heritage of Humanity, which offers a wide variety of products and infinite forms of preparations. He continuously strives to provide gourmand with an unforgettable gastronomic experience: a blend of modern and contemporary cuisine that keep the traditional essence.

Starting at the age of eight, Pastry Chef Sonia Arias is wide recognized as a the creator of mind-blowing desserts. Born in Mexico City, this fiery entrepreneur began her young career by selling brownies to her family and friends. Years later the same recipe would be perfected and voted best brownie by Chilango magazine 2008.

Being in charge of the Jaso restaurant group pastry department, –one of the best restaurants in Mexico– food critic Alejandro Zarate deemed her as“The queen of desserts”.

From 2009 – 2011 she participated in several television programs such as: Valentine ‘s Day Special for E! Entertainment, Food Up Front for BBC, Fox Up Front - Utilisima in Cancun & hosted the special Flavours of Mexico with Travel Chanel UK, Cocineros al Limite by TeleColombia.

In 2010, Sonia joined Utilisima, a production by Fox and recorded more than 65 episodes for the program La Pastelería. After the success of the first season, Sonia continued La Pastelería season II and III totaling 180 shows. La Pastelería continues to excel with ratings, being viewed in 20 countries.

Her current projects include the launch of an upscale catering company, an ice-cream distribution service as well as enlarging her patisserie chain in Mexico.

Born in Mexico City in 1982, Orlando studied culinary arts and began his career there, acquiring his gastronomic base in different restaurants and hotels throughout the Mexican capital.

His love and passion for Mexican cuisine led him to travel to different states of the Republic, where he learned the secrets of the regional cuisine from the hands of different traditional cooks, resulting in his best schooling and personal investment.

In 2014 he was named Executive Chef of Xcaret Park, which has been recognized for two consecutive years (2016-2017) as the Best Aquatic and Theme Park in the World at the Travvy Awards, for its high standards of quality. Thousands of tourists who visit Xcaret Park every year from all over the world have been able to experience and enjoy Mexican cuisine, in its different restaurants, famous for the quality and variety of its dishes.

Nowadays, his style of cooking is governed by the attachment to the local cuisine, traditional flavors, and the use of cutting-edge techniques, always providing a personal touch. For Chef Orlando a good dish is eaten with the eyes, appreciated with the palate, and enjoyed with the soul.