Chef Elisa Valderrama

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | June 4th, 2012 | Chef Interviews

Miami is within the top three in my list of US cities that I would like to visit.  Although I’ve been to several other parts of Florida, I have yet to journey this far south in the state.  Of course, I’ll want to check out the beaches, shopping, and nightlife, but being a foodie, I’ll also look forward to dining in an assortment of restaurants there.

When I was presented with the opportunity to speak with Chef Elisa Valderrama of Mesazul Steakhouse at Doral Golf Resort & Spa, a Marriott resort, I eagerly agreed.  Although speaking with Chef Elisa doesn’t get me to Miami, it does provide me with more information about some of my dining options there.

TT:  Your menu combines the American steakhouse with Latin flavors.  Do you include a range of Latin flavors or do you focus more on your native country of Peru?

CE: Well, we offer a few classic Peruvian dishes like our Ceviche trio, where we showcase a Striped Sea bass Ceviche, a Shrimp Ceviche and a Vegetarian Crimini Mushroom and Avocado ceviche. We also have a Causa, a traditional Peruvian Potato terrine served chilled with Lobster. While Peruvian ingredients definitely influence the menu, we have cooks from other Latin countries, like Venezuela and Nicaragua, and those other influences definitely find their way into our food.

TT: You enjoyed being in the kitchen as a child.  Do you use any family recipes in your menu?

CE: Oh, yes! I remember hanging out in my mom’s pantry and just taking inventory as a young child. I was the only one of my sisters that really and truly enjoyed going to the supermarket with my mom and shopping for food. The Sea Bass Ceviche is my mom’s, as well as the Arroz con Leche, or Rice Pudding. More than recipes, the passion and love my family has for food and cooking is reflected not only in the menu, but in the attention we pay to the food while preparing it.

TT: What is your favorite dish on the current menu?

CE: That’s a tough one. I love our Shrimp Ceviche, chilled, with perfectly tender shrimp coated in a velvety spicy sauce; it’s like a standard shrimp cocktail that went to college and got a PHD! Also, the Malta Short Ribs are a close second; unctuous, beefy, fall-off-the-bone short ribs smothered in a mahogany malt and pineapple juice reduction served with a cheesy Yucca pancake. It’s so good!

TT: Do you change the menu?  If so, how often?
CE: We make changes to the menu at least once a year. We often find that we can improve a dish without really needing to change the wording in the menu; that is something we do constantly. We definitely like to update and innovate while remaining true to our classic dishes that work and diners love.

TT: Are any of the ingredients in this dish locally sourced?

CE: Our fish, like our black grouper, is locally sourced from Pompano Beach.

TT: What makes Mesazul’s menu unique?

CE:  At Mesazul, we satisfy diners’ craving for classic steak house fare while delighting them with unique Latin inspired flavors. If you love meat and potatoes, we absolutely have that, but if you are the daring type and are eager to try a delicious yet unfamiliar dish, well we can definitely make you happy.

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