Manuel Arredondo’s plates at his restaurant in the Shoppes at Palmilla really live up to to the name “Creative Cuisine.” As they are paraded in front of you throughout your meal, you might feel as though you are at an art show rather than a restaurant. But each bite is magically delicious.
This family owned restaurant (Manuel is the chef and wife Virny is the manager) has the appeal of fine dining with the warmth and feel of a small restaurant.
Everything at Manuel’s Creative Cuisine is home-made, from the bread to the chocolates and ice cream; and Manuel makes sure to use the freshest local ingredients.
I got a chance to ask Manuel a few questions about his background and his love of cooking:
I got into cooking when I was 18 years old. It was kind of a mistake; I wasn’t into cooking at all [at the time]. I got invited to work for a company in Houston as a dishwasher. After that, I really feel in love with [food] and it all started from there.
My most recent formal training was in 2005. I enrolled in an international school in Italy. It’s called La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana ALMA. We spent a year there. I acquired a masters in Italian Cooking.
Prior to that I worked in different venues in the United States – restaurants, hotels, convention centers, sport venues. I became a corporate chef for a large cooperation in Philapedlphia.
One of the most recent ones and perhaps one of the best experiences I’ve ever had was when I did the 80th birthday party for George H.W. Bush in Houston, Texas in 2004. I was in charge of this event as I had done many events for the Bush family. The event was for 5,500 guests.
I remember when it was time to serve dinner, I was the one who got to bring the platter to the high profile guests. I got to serve them- including George H.W Bush.
There have been two influential chefs – both from my experience in Italy. I was working with Gualtiero Marchesi, an Italian chef who was the first chef outside of France to receive 3 Michelin Stars. And Chef Walter Eynard who I spent 6 months working under at Flipot, a two Michelin Star restaurant in Piedmont, Italy.
Everyone who goes across the border to the States dreams of going over there, working hard, and doing something with their life and career. My dream was to come back to Mexico and give something back to my country. I moved to the states when I was 17 and then I returned after about 30 years.
[My wife and I] opened our first restaurant, Manuel’s, in 2007. It was a small town Ajijic, south of Guadalajara. We wanted to have a small family style restaurant with a creative cuisine. Going to a small town gave us the opportunity to do so.
We started small. When we opened our first restaurant, we didn’t even have a sign. For us, it was a unique experience; we wanted to start from stretch. We moved to Cabo in 2009.
Cabo was a special exclusive place that I wanted to be. We are surrounded by beautiful nature – beautiful places. It’s one of the few places that I could find that had everything I needed to create my dishes and my cuisine. I’m very happy and glad that I found Cabo.
My emphasis is to always look at what is in season. These days, it is very easy to order an ingredient from anywhere and receive it the next day. That’s great, but being in a place where the ingredients are seasonal, when things are there when they are supposed to be there, gives me more satisfaction. Here in Cabo, we have beautiful organic markets, organic farms and the beautiful sea where we get wonderful sea food.
I look for balance on the plate, where I can have all all the flavors and texture. I love to combine the salty, sweetness, citric, spicy, crunchiness, etc. All those things combined to me is what make a unique plate. Whatever we do at Manuel’s, we are always looking for those elements.
We change our menu constantly. When we were in Ajijic, we changed our menu every day for 14 months. When we arrived in Cabo we took a different approach. We started changing our menu every day, every week, every month. Now we are more of a seasonal menu.
It’s hard to take some things off the menu because they have become favorites of the customers. So, the approach to creating something new all the times is there, but not as consistent. But I can see the customer’s point of view too.
Have you dined at Manuel’s? Tell us about it!
Photo: Manuel Arredondo and Cara Gourley
Cara Gourley is the Director of Web Strategy for All About Mexico as well as an All About Girl. She’s a certified Los Cabos Expert and has been to Cabo many times.
If you have any questions on restaurants, hotels or activities, Cara would love to help you! You can head to the forum to ask a question or you can email her directly.