The collaboration of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the executive chef of One&Only Palmilla Larbi Dahrouch, Stuart Roger, the executive chef of Seared, and Alejandro Aviles, the wine manager, has done a remarkable job of offering unparalleled culinary experiences at One&Only Palmilla.
Collaboration is the path the resort has chosen to constantly innovate and offer the finest in culinary concepts. The Culinary Awards jury nominated One&Only for the best dessert served in the restaurant Agua by Larbi and declared the Seared wine cellar as the winner for the best selection.
Agua by Larbi revives traditional recipes but adds a modern twist. Today’s Mexican ingredients are incorporated to present new and light recipes for different tastes.
How do you combine your Moroccan ancestry with Mexican cuisine?
The kitchen in Agua by Larbi presents Mexican dishes that combine spices representative of Morocco, such as saffron, paprika and turmeric, with chilies.
How would you describe your culinary style?
My cooking style is spontaneous. I am inspired by what is available in the market, the catch of the day and fresh vegetables. At least one or two dishes are new every day.
What is your inspiration in the dessert kitchen?
I love sweets. Fruits dominate the dessert menu because they are so versatile and I can create combinations of fresh flavors. For example, limes with peaches, oranges, and dates. Of course, the menu includes churros, desserts with dulce de leche, brown sugar that has an incredible flavor and the traditional Mexican chocolate.
What ingredients distinguish your sweet dishes?
There are spices that are a great inspiration for highlighting flavors in desserts. Anise, vanilla and cinnamon are my favorite to combine in sweets.
What desserts can we find in Agua by Larbi?
• Orange confit with dates and anise, that includes orange ice cream. We also use seasonal local products to obtain unique flavors.
• Three milk cake
• Caramel ice cream with cajeta
• Chocolate with almonds
• Dulce de leche ice cream
• Coconut ice cream
• Mango and tamarind sorbet
What do you love most about your job?
Arriving in the kitchen, receiving fresh produce from the farms, making sure that all the ingredients look bright, fresh, and beautiful with the great aromas. That makes me want to cook more and more.
What experience do you want to leave with the diners?
For me, it’s every time I serve a dish to a new diner and his or her reaction says “wow” without having to use the word. I want them to feel like “I have never eaten anything like that before.” When a guest is satisfied by the unique flavors, I’m happy.
How do you perceive Mexican gastronomy outside the country?
In 2003, when the proposal was first made to cook Mexican food, the perception at the time was fried foods, basically what was known in the United States as street food. Now Mexican gastronomy is booming! People love Mexican cuisine.
Why did you decide to participate in Culinary Awards, Los Cabos?
With all the new hotels and chefs in the destination, participating in this event puts One&Only Palmilla squarely on the gastronomic map. We are one of the first hotels in Los Cabos, but we are constantly innovating and coming up with new culinary ideas.
What was your experience with the first edition?
It is very nice to know that people selected us for desserts! Our sweet dishes are fresh and simple in preparation. We want them to be light combinations of flavors that are like snapping close a golden brooch signifying the end of your evening or meal.
Alejandro Aviles, Wine Manager
How many wine labels can be found in the Seared cellar?
From 580 to 800 according to the season. We look for the best of each region of the world. Typically, that means 10 to 12 bottles per region. To have a healthy circulation, there are 3,500 bottles in the low season and up to 5,000 in the high season, with an average of five bottles per label.
What is most remarkable about the cellar design?
The simplicity of the cava gives it functionality and, at the same time, elegance. The ability to find the labels quickly provides more effective service to the diner.
How do you recommend a wine to diners?
First, we ask about preferences. For repeat customers, we always offer them a new and interesting wine. Of course, we consider the menu items and your choice of food, as well as the price range that you are comfortable with.
What is the most requested wine?
Interestingly, even though the identity of the Seared steakhouse is the cuts, the best-selling wine is a California Chardonnay white wine.
Is there a wine that cannot be found anywhere else in the destination?
Of the wines available on the world market, we have five labels that cannot be found in any other cava in Los Cabos. We acquired the only 30 bottles of Sanwiss Rosé wine available from the Santa Inés region and the White Resistant wine from the Sine Qua Non winery. From one of Napa’s most iconic wineries, Screaming Eagle, we have a white wine and the unique Screaming Eagle Magnun format.
How has the reputation of your cava developed over time?[two_first] Our cava has been recognized for managing a balance of price and quality. There are very expensive wines and for our knowledgeable guests, we have them available. At the same time, for those who just want to pair their dinner with a glass of wine, we have an extensive variety to recommend. The added value is the service that begins the moment the wine is presented at the table by the sommelier and continues through the uncorking and the process of tasting and approving.
How is your collection of wines relevant to the diner’s experience?
We offer the perfect balance paired with the gastronomic proposal. The flavors of the dishes day or night are complemented by the wine labels that we handle.
Have you received other nominations or awards, in addition to being a Culinary Awards winner?
The property has three Wine Spectator recognitions. The last one was in 2014. Since Hurricane Odile, we stopped pursuing this recognition. However, our selection by the Culinary Awards motivates us to continue the search for Wine Spectator recognition in future years.