Cristian Paredes Hernandez is originally from Compostela, which is just under two hours from Sayulita. Twelve years ago, Cristian moved here, and after working for Haramara Retreat for nine years, became the head chef at the Italian restaurant, INO Laboratorio Gastronomico, in October of 2016.
So, first off, how did your passion for cooking develop?
When I was growing up, I would watch my mother while she cooked. Then, I would try to cook and copy what she did.
How did you get your start as a chef?
When I was in business school, I got a job at Haramara Retreat as a waiter to help pay for school. Then, I started working in their kitchen. First, as a dishwasher, and then I worked my way up until I was cooking. After four years at Haramara, I earned a scholarship in Mexico City for a one-year French cooking school.
What made you want to cook professionally in Sayulita?
I always wanted to be in Sayulita, so after graduating from culinary school, I came back to Sayulita and worked at Haramara for another five years. However, they already had a head chef, so I decided to look for another job that would bring me a new challenge. So, eight months ago, I started as the head chef at INO.
How would you describe your culinary style?
International fusion. The main concept at INO is modern Italian, and I infuse it with Mexican, American, and international styles of cooking.
What do you like about being the chef at INO?
The owners of INO are really nice people and I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to be the head chef. I also really like the work environment of the restaurant and I like the people.
What are your favorite, fresh from Sayulita ingredients to use?
Fish. In Sayulita, the fish is so fresh and clean, and there is a wide variety of it here.
When creating a complete meal in Sayulita, what factors do you take into consideration?
I consider the climate and weather, as well as the people I am going to be cooking for. A lot of people come to Mexico and want to try Mexican food. So, I always try to appeal to everyone’s taste and offer things that a variety of customers will enjoy.
Do you have a signature dish? If so, what is it and how would you describe it?
Smoked fish – generally Mackerel. It is served over a bed of baked potatoes with rosemary, mushrooms, and onions, and is topped with a black olive and caper oil. It is this oil that gives this dish its signature flavor.
Will you share your most entertaining “kitchen disaster” story?
I was making a birthday cake and I forgot to add the baking soda. So, I waited and waited, and the cake never rose. It was just thick and horrible.
What’s your favorite kitchen tool to use in Sayulita and why?
My hands and the pasta maker are my favorite tools. I make all of the pasta from scratch, and I also make the dough for the bread.
If you could recommend one other Sayulita restaurant other than yours, what would it be?
Los Corazones. When they first opened, I went there and had the coconut shrimp, which I really liked.
If you had to choose a last meal, what would it be?
Huevos rancheros. It’s a classic dish and one of my favorites. I can never forget about them.