orn and raised in the cultural melting pot of Mexico City, Jorge Vallejo’s culinary conquest is to steep his cuisine the rich tradition of his native city, creating tastes that transcend through history, evoking the generational memories of Mexico on the palate. “In Mexico, the culinary memory of many generations comes from women who prepared and still prepare food in our families, in my case in the context of Mexico City. I became a chef before the fasciation to be able to evoke the history – personal or of a tradition – through the flavour. In Mexico the grandmothers have stewed exceptionally, and that also has to do with a tradition of social oppression.” “From the pre-Hispanic times and even in our days, especially in the countryside, women are in front of the metate [mealing stone] preparing hundreds of corn tortillas for large families. Although things are changing, we have a vast cookbook of fascinating and unique flavours of many hours, for many years, of Mexican women in the kitchen.” Much like the Mexican matriarchs, the kitchen is also a sacred place for the chef whose restaurant sits firmly at number 11 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, and although he initially wanted to become a vet in his youth, life had another plan for him. “When I was a kid, I loved animals so I wanted to be a vet and never thought about becoming anything else, until life took me to become a cook when I was 15 years old. I have always loved to eat, so the kitchen was always a place that I enjoyed.”
With his palate in tune with traditional Mexican ingredients and cuisine, Jorge teamed up with his wife to create a space in which he could showcase the Mexican flavours that he grew up eating – and thus Quintonil was born. “We were convinced that we wanted a Mexican restaurant. More than seven years ago, we had in mind to design a menu based mainly on traditional ingredients, which have also been stripped of their social meaning. I refer to the huauzontles, nopales and beans, to name a few. Ingredients that were consumed by the lowest classes in Mexico and did not appear in the ‘high’ national cuisine. We were interested in rescuing this ‘marginalised’ recipe book and giving it the importance it deserves. “Quintonil has conceived a menu that, although it does not prioritise the vegetarian ones, does express to a greater extent the voices of ingredients such as quelites, the mole with vegetables, the nopal and the beans. On the other hand, my wife Alejandra Flores had worked for many years in the operation, administration and service in important restaurants, and for that reason we wanted to incorporate in our idea a proposal of interior design and service that expressed the warmth and quality that we were looking for in the menu.” “As much as the food is delicious, it does not eat well if the service is poor and the atmosphere unpleasant or boring. Being able to do this well translates from my point of view to be hospitable, to assist you at home, in that you receive »
ABOVE The relaxed interiors of Quintonil.