Baja California is fast becoming a favored destination in the culinary world, and Los Cabos Film Festival is getting in on the gourmet action. For the first time, the festival is screening three food-centered documentaries in the Tastes section, and planning a gala fundraising dinner to bringing together the films and local chefs.
“We know of the richness of culinary culture in Los Cabos and its great tradition of fantastic chefs. We thought it was an interesting approach to bring together cinema and food,” says the festival’s director Alfonso Aguilar.
Premiering in the Tastes section are “Cooking Up a Tribute,” about the brothers who own El Celler de Can Roca, which has been called the world’s best restaurant, who decide to shut down temporarily and go on a road trip in South America, and “Sergio Herman: F***ing Perfect,” about a perfectionist Dutch chef.
The final film is the most closely tied to the region: The world premiere of “Baja Tastes” will introduce three of the most influential chefs cooking in Baja California: La Querencia’s Miguel Ángel Guerrero, Taco Kokopelli’s “Oso” Campos, Diego Hernández of Corazon De Tierra and Javier Plascencia, who presides over several restaurants including Mision 19. All of those chefs’ restaurants are in Tijuana or Valle de Guadalupe in Northern Baja, but Southern Baja has its own scene revolving around organic farms, abundant seafood and some starry chefs.
In June, superstar chef Enrique Olvera from groundbreaking Mexico City restuarant Pujol and New York’s red-hot Cosme opened Manta at the Cape Thompson Hotel.
Manta’s executive chef Alex Branch says his favorite dish on the menu is the cactus salad, which is very representative of and inspired by the desert and Baja Sur. “Incorporating that local Baja feel while bringing something new — and sometimes pleasantly unexpected — to our guests is a key tenet of what we do,” he says. The menu incorporates Asian touches like a lychee rice pudding dessert or chocolate clams (a Baja specialty that are tinged with brown, not actually made with chocolate) with sea asparagus and yuzu.
“I think Baja cuisine is about to burst onto the culinary scene in a major way,” Branch predicts. “There is an incredible amount of interesting, locally produced ingredients available to us and we’re producing the professional talent that can present these regional flavors in a unique way.”
Those talents include chef El Voker of Pitahayas restaurant, where the festival will hold a dinner to benefit the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, which supports emerging Mexican filmmakers. Baja Med cuisine creator chef Miguel Angel Guerrero, who appears in “Baja Taste,” will also be cooking at the benefit dinner featuring dishes inspired by the Tastes movies.
“The dinner is for the local community,” says Aguilar, “It lets them understand the festival from a different perspective. And the chef is a true artist.”
Recommended restaurants near Cabo San Lucas:
Manta — “Globally inspired Mexican cuisine to warm the soul” from Cosme and Pujol chef Enrique Olvera
Pitahayas – The Asian fusion restaurant in the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar hotel will host a benefit dinner during the festival.
Agua at One & Only Palmilla — French Laundry chef-owner Thomas Keller recommends the farm-to-table cuisince at this very exclusive and secluded spot.
El Farallon — The New York Times recommends the seafood market menu-themed restaurant at the Resort at Pedregal. Chef Yvan Mucharraz is an alumnus of Thomas Keller’s kitchen.