Gabriel Miramontes Jacobo grew up in Puerto Vallarta and first started coming to Sayulita as a small child. He has worked at several well-known restaurants in the Puerto Vallarta area, including the Vallarta Cigar Factory and Senor Frog’s. He also worked at Medusa as the chef approximately three years ago, and returned to work as the chef again just two months ago.
How did your passion for cooking develop?
It started when I was a little kid. My whole family worked in the restaurant business. My father was one of the managers at Carlos O’Brian’s in Puerto Vallarta, my aunt was the first female floor manager there, and my mom also worked there as a cashier. (That’s where my mom and dad met.) Also, most of my father’s friends owned restaurants, and they always took me to eat and I got to choose anything I wanted. The only condition was that I had to finish it all. Spending so much time in restaurants and eating the food made me want to cook.
How did you get your start as a chef?
When I was 11 or 12 years old, my aunt opened a restaurant, El Manantial, and a well-known chef from Switzerland came to work there. It was the first gourmet Mexican restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. When I had the time, I would help out with chopping ingredients. Around this time, I also started “making inventions” in the kitchen at home. My grandma used to kick me out of the kitchen and would tell me that boys don’t cook, but I kept cooking. When I got out of school (hotel and restaurant management), I started working at a restaurant in Nuevo Vallarta as a helper and step-by-step, I moved up in the kitchen. I gained a lot of knowledge from this experience, and the people I worked with taught me to put my own touch on each recipe.
What made you want to cook professionally in Sayulita?
The life here made me want to cook in Sayulita. It’s a really mellow life. And the waves – I’ve been surfing since I was 6 years old.
How would you describe your culinary style?
I would call it Mexican with a touch of evolution. I keep up with the philosophy of freshness and add a touch of gourmet to a rancho style. My cooking evokes flavors and emotions that take me back to the ranch. (My grandma would often take me to ranches, and she is my inspiration for cooking).
What do you like about being the chef at Medusa?
I like that the kitchen is open. Everyone can see what’s going on in the kitchen and see the freshness of what they are having for dinner. I also enjoy interacting with the customers.
What are your favorite, fresh from Sayulita ingredients to use?
Fish. I like that I can go and pick out my own from my friends who are fishermen in Sayulita. They bring the fish in on their pangas, and I love that I can tell that the fish was caught the same day I buy it.
When creating a complete meal in Sayulita, what factors do you take into consideration?
I like a complete balance when I create a meal. I want each plate to have protein, carbs, and veggies.
You completely changed Medusa’s menu. Will you tell me more about this?
Yes, I changed the whole menu, and wanted to offer a variety of options.
We now have Zarandeado Octopus, which is my grandmother’s original recipe.
The zarandeado sauce is full of authentic flavors, including three different chilies. There is also seafood pasta, Pasta 7 Mares, that has crab, shrimp, squid, mussels, and octopus in it. The sauce is light and creamy with dill and white wine. We also offer Filet Mignon, Coconut Shrimp, Seared Tuna, Mussels in White Wine, and many other items.
Will you share your most entertaining “kitchen disaster” story?
I was baking a pasta dish with a friend, and we went out for a drink while it was baking. We came back and realized the pasta was ruined, so we had to make it all over again.
What’s your favorite kitchen tool to use in Sayulita and why?
A wok. I can use it for deep frying, baking, sautéing, barbecuing, and I can even use it as an oven by utilizing bricks and fire.
If you would recommend one other Sayulita restaurant other than yours, what would it be?
If you had to choose a last meal, what would it be?
Chicken mole poblano with arroz and tortillas made by hand.