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Chef from Mexico about first impressions of Kazakhstan, cold weather and warm people

Cesar De Jesus Gil

Chef at Cantina Kahlo Restaurant


Chef from Mexico about first impressions of Kazakhstan, cold weather and warm people

Recently, the Mökki restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Astana hosted a gala dinner and master classes from a famous Mexican chef. We met him and asked if he had tried local cuisine and what he thought about the Kazakh people.

expat astana

About myself

I was born in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico. I have six brothers, and like all big families, we helped with the cooking since childhood. Even then, I was interested in making preparations, preparing food, and experimenting with recipes. Then I trained as a food technician and worked in the hotel business for a long time. Afterwards I studied cooking and took various trainings, including from chefs from France. That's why my specialty is mixed Mexican-French cuisine.

I worked in various restaurants in Mexico and spent a year in France working at the famous establishment Au Pied de Cochon. He worked in Dubai for another two years. And for the last year and a half I have been working on the Cantina Kahlo restaurant in Bahrain. We prepare real authentic Mexican food and are among the top 5 best restaurants in the country.

About the reasons for coming

Cantina Kahlo is a popular establishment in Bahrain with excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. The food service manager at The Ritz-Carlton Astana heard about us and invited me to Kazakhstan for a week to learn more about Mexican cuisine.

Every day I host different events: cooking classes for people who want to learn how to cook authentic Mexican dishes, tequila tastings with authentic snacks like guacamole canapés, tuna ceviche or tortilla soup. We also held a gala dinner with a four-course menu and a Sunday brunch.

expat astana

This is my first visit to Kazakhstan. Before arriving, I looked at the information on the Internet. I learned that the country became independent relatively recently. Temperatures here in winter can drop to -30 degrees, and the local cuisine has many Asian influences.

About Kazakhstan

I spent a lot of time with the kitchen staff. The people here are open, friendly, and always ready to help. They may not understand the language I speak, but they always show with gestures where things are in the kitchen or where I can get the necessary tools. It may be cold in Kazakhstan, but people are warm towards others.

Here I feel confident, like at home. For example, every morning five or six different people ask if I had breakfast, and if not, they will definitely offer something.

expat astana

It is difficult to prepare real Mexican food in Astana because the necessary ingredients are not available here. I started preparing food several months in advance and brought here about 50 kilograms of the necessary products: chili, beans, tortillas, sauces and much more.

The cooking culture in Kazakhstan is very different from Mexico. We use a lot of corn, beans, tortillas, pork. It's different here. I liked beshbarmak. The meat in this dish is tasty and soft in texture. I want to try horse meat: I have eaten a lot of exotic dishes, like crocodile meat, but I have not tried this yet.

About plans

I am glad to have the opportunity to come to Kazakhstan. This is a new and unusual experience for me. It’s great that I can not only teach something to others, but also learn something new myself. I would like to come here again in the future, not alone, but with my team of chefs.

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