A great day of tastes and smells defined UVM's 1st Culinary Meeting, "Creating Tomorrow's Inspiration," where Universidad del Valle de México presented its highest award, the Golden Lynx (Linces de Oro), to Executive Chef Alejandro Heredia, Executive Chef Carlos Gaytán and to the Secretary of Tourism of Tabasco State.
Campus Lomas Verdes hosted this great event that was attended by renowned chefs such as Nicholás Martín del Campo, Director of High Catering; Javier Salazar from Fiesta Americana and Fernando Gonzalez, a founding partner of Mexican Organic, as well as Sergio Carvallo, Institutional Director of Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts and Tourism and Alexandrina Lopez, Chief Operating Officer of Laureate Hospitality Mexico.
Conferences, lectures, vendor expositions, demo classes, tastings and cooking contests were part of this event, which was the first time an educational institution recognized the Secretary of Tourism.
Twentieth Century Mexican
Alejandro Heredia, Executive Chef at "La Hacienda de Los Morales" received the "Golden Lynx" from Graciela Romero Cambrón, rector of Campus Lomas Verdes, in recognition of his 43 years of uninterrupted work in the culinary field.
Named "Mexico's Chef of the 20th Century", Alejandro Heredia was surprised by the tribute. "They took me off guard, I thank you for recognizing me with this award," were the emotional words of a man of passion. Chef Heredia was trained in the old style with a modern vision of the culinary arts and has brought the flavors of Mexico to more than 40 countries. He has served as executive chef of La Hacienda de Los Morales since 1992, is a role model for new generations, and is a member of the Culinary Academy of France and the Vatel Club.
"Mexique" 21 years to build a dream
At only 20 years of age and without speaking any English, Carlos Gaytán left his native Huitzuco, Guerrero, to immigrate to the United States and build a better future. "I wanted to make a difference. I'm still on that quest today, but with my feet solidly planted without forgetting my roots."
Chef Carlos Gaytan teaches Mexican cooking at Kendall College, a member of the Laureate International Universities network, and held a discussion with students from UVM Lomas Verdes before receiving the "Golden Lynx".
At the event he explained his life experience and how he began his journey with food and personal growth. "I worked over 12 hours a day and also spent my free time working unpaid and was thus becoming an expert without realizing it. I was given opportunities and recognized for my interest and culinary skills. Though unable to speak English, I began to enter and win contests" he said.
"God put talent in my hands and for 21 years the only thing I have wanted to do is to put a smile on the faces of the people who eat my meals and most importantly doing my job with passion, soul, without focusing on the money," were the things that got Gaytán recognized, in addition to his talent. His French-Mexican restaurant, Mexique, has distinguished itself for two years in a row as the best restaurant in the Chicago Social magazine, and among the 20 best restaurants in Illinois by Chicago Magazine, while Chicago Dining guide recognized it as the best new restaurant in 2009.
Finally, he thanked UVM for giving him the opportunity "for the first time in my country, to talk about my experience and share with you that this career is about passion, if you don't have passion and are looking for money, this is not for you. You have to above and beyond everything else want to make your guests happy."
The event closed with recognitions granted to the students who won the UVM Institutional Culinary Arts Contest; Luis Quiroz and Juan Salinas from the 8th semester of the culinary arts program and a special mention to Ayseel Magdub and Verónica Cano, who were recognized by the chef judges "for daring to make great Mayan food, for the presentation of the dishes and for time management, since they just began the program and were competing in their first contest."
The most emotional moment was experienced by David Tarango Delgado from the Youth Institute who was declared winner of the "Lynx Promising Chef Contest". To ensure "his magic continues to grow and change the country through food," Fernando Malpica, Executive Chef of the School of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Campus Lomas Verdes, granted David Tarango a 50% scholarship for his entire degree program.
Throughout the event, UVM students learned, had fun and tasted sweet success through tapping into Mexico's deep culinary roots and the chefs who have infused Mexican cuisine with passion and soul.