Meet Fernando, Our Chef!

5 06 2010

While you’re eating your tasty dish at Playa Grill, ever wonder who made it? We took a minute to get to know the man behind the scenes–Executive Chef, Fernando Roman. He has been a chef for restaurants such as the Hotel Del Coronado, Kenny’s Steakhouse, Blue Wave Bar and Grill, Bahia Hotel, Benecimo and Dos Amigos. Now he has brought his creative culinary gifts to Playa Grill and the results are nothing short of delicious!

1) When did you start getting interested in cooking? Who taught you to cook? I started cooking when I was 16 or 17 when I crossed the border. I went to El Charro in La Jolla. I approached the chef and told him I wanted to do more. I started getting passionate about the food. I learned by reading books and asked chefs questions. When we had banquets I was very creative with the presentation. My boss told me if I kept it up, that someday I could be a chef.  I’ve worked in all different kinds of restaurants since then.

2) Why did you decide to work for Playa Grill? At Dos Amigos, the last restaurant I worked at, the product and food was similar. I have been challenged to bring the food level up. I use mole instead of tomato sauce in the enchiladas, I use ceviche on the fish, which is a soy marinade with lemon juice, onions and cilantro. I garnish the martinis with berries and mint and I put sugar and cinnamon on the banana burrito to add more flavor and aroma. At Playa, we have products no one else around has. That’s why I like to play around with different sauces and ingredients.

Making Playa fajitas is serious business

3) What are your favorite ingredients to use? I love to use garlic because the aroma and flavor works well in any dish. I also like using cloves, thyme and cumin.

4) What is your favorite dish at Playa? The carnitas chicken enchiladas with red mole. My brother sells the red mole, which comes from Teloloapan, Guerrero, Mexico. It’s got roasted peppers, chocolate, almonds and sesame seeds and makes the enchiladas delicious!

5) How do you come up with the chef’s daily picks? Every day I go home and think about what I’m going to make the next day. When I get an idea, I order and prepare for it ahead of time. Sometimes I’ll come up with a new dish on the spot and that will be the daily pick of the day. Sometimes I surprise myself. One day, we messed up on cooking the rice, and it turned out too mushy. I didn’t throw it out; I just saved it for the next day. Then I got an idea to make a Mexican sushi roll. I used the mushy rice, put a bean spread over it, topped it with avocado and jalapeno, and wrapped it in a tortilla, sushi-style.

6) What is your routine in the kitchen when preparing for lunch or dinner? I do a morning stock check, talk to the prep guy and see what our priorities are for the day and what ingredients we need. Then at about 3pm, I talk with the line cooks about the chef pick of the day. If it’s a new item, I help the guys with making it. By 6pm, I’m working on the line, and later in the evening, I make the rice for the next day and store the meat. You always have to be prepared. I make sure I always have plenty of guacamole, pico de gallo and salsa fresca on hand.

7) What advice can you give for preparing a healthy Mexican dish? I try not to use a lot of oil. Some restaurants will douse their food in oil. Instead of deep frying, I like to broil and bake as much as possible. I cook a lot of chicken and fish. I will try new things like halibut folded in banana leaves or Mexican eggplant. Much better than an oily chimichanga!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: