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Chef Marco Antonio Velasco, born and raised in Puerto Vallarta, relocated to Sayulita full-time almost five years ago. But, his passion for surfing is how he originally came to know Sayulita in the late 80’s searching for waves. Coming from a long history of working at restaurants, including De Santos and Vista Grill, opening his own restaurant in Sayulita, Los Corazones, with his wife, Katherine, was a natural progression.
So, first off, how did your passion for cooking develop?
Being the youngest of a family of 10 in Puerto Vallarta, my brothers, sisters, and parents, were all in the restaurant business. They had a deli and also did seafood and Mexican food. I learned a lot working at their restaurants.
How did you get your start as a chef?
Twenty years ago, I started helping in the kitchen and then I started working as a chef. I also worked in catering for events.
What made you want to cook professionally in Sayulita?
When I first moved to Sayulita 10 years ago, I worked at Don Pedro’s. They invited me to come from Puerto Vallarta and work there. I saw there were so many tourists coming to Sayulita, but there wasn’t enough formal service here. So, I decided to bring my own ideas to a restaurant. At Los Corazones, we are trying not to compete with other restaurants, rather offer the total dining experience. My wife and I are at the restaurant working every night and we invite people into a space that we hope feels like ‘home’. We hope that our passion for beautifully plated fine cuisine paired with exceptional service translates to the stomach and heart.
Are there any challenges to being a chef in Sayulita, what is harder and what is easier?
The most difficult part is to get all of our fresh food products. We have to drive to Puerto Vallarta almost every morning to get everything we need. The easiest part is presenting my ideas because they are entirely mine, formed from years of experience in many different cooking styles. In Sayulita, no restaurant is the same. Each one is different.
How would you describe your culinary style?
An international fusion of French, American, Chinese, and Italian, while also using Mexican products.
What do you like about being the chef at Los Corazones?
It is very easy for me because all of the restaurants here have different concepts and it allows me to have my own concept. After almost two decades of working in the kitchen, Los Corazones has been my opportunity to put my own ideas, creations, and style into every plate.
What are your favorite, fresh from Sayulita ingredients to use?
I like using passion fruit, mango, te de limon, basil, zucchini, rosemary, jamaica flower and sweet potatoes that I buy from local markets. Fresh fish also, like mahi mahi and red snapper, that we use for the fish of the day.
When creating a complete meal in Sayulita, what factors do you take into consideration?
First, I consider the customer and I think that it’s not for me, it’s for them. Then, I think about the combinations and flavors that the customer might like.
Do you have a signature dish? If so, what is it and how would you describe it?
Yes, the filet mignon, which we marinade for two days with fresh spices. It comes served with mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and our house-made demi-glaze steak sauce with porcini-mushrooms.
Will you share your most entertaining “kitchen disaster” story?
The first day that we opened Los Corazones, we had a big reservation of our friends and family. Right when we opened, the oven vent fell on all the freshly prepared sauces.
What’s your favorite kitchen tool to use in Sayulita and why?
A knife because that is the tool used to make art.
If you could recommend one other Sayulita restaurant other than yours, what would it be?
If you had to choose a last meal, what would it be?
I really like seafood, so I would have grilled tuna and ceviche. Also, tortilla soup.