Alejandro Cardona (Guadalajara, 1992) began working in the gastronomic environment at the age of 15, now he is an operative chef of an important restaurant in the metropolitan area and he has not stopped doing it, not even during the time he dedicated to studying his Bachelor’s degree, from which he graduated just over four years ago to do his internship in Cancun and, shortly after, returned to the city to be part of the staff of different and important restaurants.
Now, leading a staff in which youth predominate, he always advises studying but, he admits, “gastronomy always goes hand in hand with work; you can have all the knowledge in the world, know everything, but if you can’t put that into action, there are problems. The best thing, I think, is to work first and then study, to see if we are made to be in a kitchen ”.
Know how to work
The “street” character of the food in our country, points out the chef, is clear; “There are people who may not even finish high school and have a sustainable food preparation business. Being a chef does not guarantee that, but it gives a bit of knowledge and can allow to broaden work horizons, because if a second language is properly handled and the knowledge is good, the doors are opened to work abroad, for example. But you have to know how to work ”.
Thus, in Cardona’s opinion, the percentage of students who complete their studies in a job where their talent is noticed and used is very low; In his experience, he arrived at his current job (Palomino’s restaurant, in Providencia) just a few days before the health contingency was decreed, in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “on the recommendation of a person with whom I worked before ”.
After intense training, especially regarding the handling of the meat that is handled in the establishment, only Rancho 17 product, “the best certified meat in the country” and, explains the chef, “that is part of my job, which means request the products from Sonora (where the franchise comes from), manage costs, personnel and schedules, since we are just in a growth stage “.
The above, he details, because after the success of the second branch of the restaurant, in the Punto Sur square (Tlajomulco), “We are about to inaugurate a third, in La Perla, near Plaza del Sol. This will help lay the foundations of the group, as is the case in Mexico City and other cities in the country. We are in constant coordination because we are interested in maintaining the same level of quality in all our branches ”.
This level of quality is based on offering packages for all tastes, “but the traditional thing is to show the client the basic pieces so that they can choose the type and quantity; Among these cuts are the rib eye, the prime rib eye, the rib eye market, Australian New York (from black onix cattle), in short, the guarantee is of quality because we know the product we handle ”.
The coordination in the kitchen and the joint work of all those who work here have brought this restaurant forward and therefore keep their jobs. THE INFORMER / G. Rooster
For Cardona it is clear: “the kitchen is my life”, he tells us, “I started very young and I can say that it is sacrifice, it is sweat, tears, long hours of work without fixed hours, a lot of demand. Sometimes it is not so satisfactory because in Mexico the salaries are not very good in the sector, that is why you have to have a true love for the profession ”.
However, the reward or retribution for this sacrifice exists, the young chef explains that “beyond my satisfaction, the important thing is that my team works well and in the right way. If we get things out in a timely manner, with the specifications that we follow, it means that we are doing well. If the client is satisfied and expresses it, the work team takes the palms, then the chef ”.
In this way, it is evident that “the kitchen is teamwork, we are like a body in which someone is the head, if he does not indicate an arm to move, he will not do it. The idea is to function according to how the head indicates; It is the best example that I can think of to explain my work ”.
Seasoning and product
On the other hand, Cardona emphasizes that “you can be very studied, but if you don’t have seasoning, you are lost. Now, it is not the only thing, you may have extensive knowledge and seasoning, but have no idea how to pay for a dish or handle storage systems or request for products for the kitchen. In this type of work, the operating cost is higher and the profit margin is different ”.
According to what the chef tells us, In a job like yours, “stress is not absent; we handle a delicate product that has a limited shelf life; the responsibility is great ”; And that, today, “especially thinking about this period of pandemic, has had us in a kind of roller coaster, from which we are emerging.”
Contingency and adaptation
As he already related, Cardona entered Palomino’s just when the health contingency was about to start and, he tells us, “we were closed for four months and we were working take out orders, sales dropped a lot but the work team remained. It was not easy, of course, It involved the risks of the client of this type of business, which may see their plate affected by the transfer and those issues; it is clear that the enjoyment is better at the table ”.
At this stage, “packages” had to be designed to meet demand and deliver shipments, “and we always try to adapt to customer demand, to meet expectations,” notes the chef, “but over time, We were allowed to open the restaurant, whose total capacity is 220 people. We started with 30 percent and, now, although it can be expanded to 90, we do not open completely for the protection of diners and we follow the protocols rigorously, due to health and safety issues. We decided not to take risks in that sense ”.
It is exploring the flavors of this restaurant. THE INFORMER / G. Rooster
Recovery and optimism
The recovery, in this way, has been gradual -states Cardona- and the guidelines of the Ministry of Health are followed to the letter, in addition, practically all the personnel are vaccinated and certified; “It may not be mandatory to comply with the vaccine, but as a company it is preferable given the situation.”
And although this recovery is not complete, the company is stable and, as the chef affirms, “we are optimistic, because Palomino’s, as such, always thinks of the families that depend on the business and has known how to take risks. Now comes the best month of the year (that is, December), and we trust that people will keep us in their preference ”.
This is the sign of optimism, if not, they would not be in the process of opening a third branch; for Cardona “the greatest satisfaction is that the customer leaves the restaurant happy, of course the stress is great and the responsibility is not easy, but discipline allows me to know both sides of the coin and my experience is not small for my age” .
Considered the brand of the best meat that can be tasted in the country, it is certainly the best rated according to international standards. If science helps us to enjoy a good cut of meat; Rancho 17 has developed a methodology, a process that provides the opportunity to savor the best. In this sense, they consider that there are four main factors that affect the taste of meat:
Cattle feeding Cattle feeding time Cattle breed AND cattle age