Finalist at the Gold Medal Plates as a Sous chef (representing Toronto)
Head Chef of Bread and Circus ( one of the best restaurants in Calgary 2019)
Sous Chef of Colibri Restaurant ( one of the best restaurants in Toronto 2018)
Born and raised in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, Rafael has been closely connected to cooking since growing up as a young child in the kitchen with his Mother and Grandmother. Rafael watched with fascination as they cooked and prepared family feasts, building a fond relationship with food that has lasted to this day. This fascination continued as Rafael grew older, spending time with his mother in her Tortilleria in Merida.
In 2012, after solidifying his passion for the through summer jobs in professional kitchens, Rafael attended Colegio de Gastronomia del Sureste in his hometown of Merida. Excelling from the start, Rafael eagerly participated in extracurricular events and dinners with the school. After completing culinary school, Rafael moved to the United States and landed jobs at two of Dallas, Texas best restaurants UCHI and FT33. This experience was pivotal in developing Rafael’s fundamental awareness of technique, seasonality, and attention to quality ingredients.
After almost 4 years in Texas, the opportunity presented itself to work in Canada with Chef Scott Vivian, Owner of BEAST in Toronto, where Rafael honed his skills in butchery and whole animal cookery. Shortly after arriving in Canada Rafael met Elia Herrera, Executive Chef of Los Colibris and Caballito, and eventually became Elia’s Sous Chef, participating in the final of Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, BC.
Most recently, Rafael was recruited to move to Calgary to be the Chef at Bread & Circus alongside Executive Chef Kayle Burns – helping build the restaurants strong reputation for quality food and garner numerous awards and accolades.
What made you want to become a chef?
“I grew up really close to my grandmother and mother who are amazing cooks, I have always been around of amazing dishes and feast that they were preparing, so my love for eating, has always been there. After I graduated high school, my friend offered me to work in a Chinese buffet and I fell in love with the energetic environment in the kitchen.”
Why do you use Alberta ingredients in your kitchen?
“I really believe the fresh product make the difference, with Fonda Fora our goal is to show our roots and techniques from Mexico but understanding we are in a different country we are trying to improve our Mexican dishes with local fresh ingredients.”
What is your favourite Alberta ingredient to use?
“AAA Beef best quality globally and Honey.”
What dish should guests be sure to try on your menu?
“Carne Asada (Alberta AAA Prime Rib) with Chilmole butter and Ensalada de Camote ( Peanut and Local Honey dressing ).”
What is a favourite kitchen/cooking memory?
“My time in United States was amazing, working at FT33 restaurant and Uchi (Dallas, TX) – I had the opportunity to share the kitchen with talent chefs and learn a lot from them.”
Why do you take part in Alberta on the Plate?
“We want to show the local ingredients that we are using on the plates as well the techniques from Mexico, this is a good opportunity as a restaurant to do it.”