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Everything Food with Seth: Three Days in the Life of a Chef
email this pageprint this pageemail usSeth Cloutman - PVNN
January 15, 2010

Call Seth or Cristhian at (322) 222-9081 to get your tickets for the 8th Annual RISE for Hope Fundraising event on February 6th. Click HERE for more information.
Some people do not understand how an entire life can be filled with food. To so many it is just a way to nourish the body. But this chef is not like that. If it involves anything to do with food I am there. So I thought it might be fun to describe my last three days of food in Vallarta.

It started on Wednesday night when two friends, Steve and Robert from Canada, were back in town and my partner, Cristhian, and I invited them to come over to watch the sunset from our terrace, have a glass of wine and some canapes. The sunset was perfect and so were the two Mexican reds that we enjoyed over fresh Michoacan strawberries and flash grilled fresh garlic shrimp from the Bay. That was the easy part.

After they left and the clean up was done the shopping lists and prep lists began. We then headed to Hacienda Xochitl for a quiet dinner for two. I have been hearing such great things about the restaurant and finally wanted to see for myself.

The meal was delicious and owner, Cesar, joined us at the end for a lovely chat. Then I asked him if he would donate food for 750 people who attend the annual fundraiser in February for Refugio Infantil Santa Esperanza. He immediately agreed and so it was off to Encuentros Pizza for a night cap, to pay for the pizza I had ordered the evening before for my staff party.

Once there we each had a martini, some pretzels and sat and chatted with Deborah, the owner. We talked a lot about a school that Food by Seth has adopted in El Remance and then about the Refugio. She had been invited to our home on Christmas Day and learned about the Refugio which was founded by my in-laws. She immediately said she would like a tour and so was given one. She then proceeded to make an extremely generous donation, agreed to donate food for the February event and the next day she showed up to volunteer and give the babies bathes. She left soaking wet but so happy to have done what she did.

The next stop was home. There were finalizing of shopping lists to do for the next day. The shopping is the hardest part of being a chef in Vallarta. I do not want to make a call and have items delivered. I need to touch, smell and see what I am purchasing to make sure it is the highest quality. And then there is the here today, gone tomorrow, which is why my bodega has so much food in it. After a final walk-through for the RISE & Shine Gourmet Brunch at Casa Karma event on Saturday, I finally headed to market to do a little shopping and then home.

Cristhian got home and we decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants in Vallarta ... one which I have written up many times. I do not write up restaurants just for the politics of it but because they are good and quality. I am an extremely fussy foodie and if it is not right I will usually not return. So it was Daiquiri Dick's. I maintain it is one of the most consistent and high quality restaurants in town and we go often. And not just for the food. Hnoi, who runs the place, Ignacio, the chef, and Javier, the Maitre 'D know how to take care of people. When I sent some clients there last week for a birthday they even sent out a birthday cake without being asked to do so. That on top of the fact that whenever I call Hnoi to donate food for a charity she never hesitates for one second, even though I still have one of her pans and a plastic storage container.

On Friday morning I headed back to market at 7 am and did the final shop for Saturday. At 10 am my staff and four volunteers from the Refugio arrived. It was time to chop, slice and dice for the charity brunch on Saturday. In record time everything was ready for me to start the actual cooking.

I took a nap and then it was off again to dinner out. When you cook for people as much as I do it is a great luxury to sit, order and dine and not have to do the dishes. So we headed to another favorite, Mark's Bar and Grill, in Bucerias. As always, it was delicious and I love sitting with a fellow chef to have a good food chat.

Saturday morning I woke up at about 3 am and started making the English muffins for the Eggs Benedict and rolling the Pate Brisee for the crust of the Quiche Lorraine. By 6 am everything was ready and the staff arrived to start loading up the truck.

We arrived with some new and inexperienced staff and the volunteers, who were nervous wrecks. Plating 40 brunches with two Eggs Benedict and fresh Hollandaise on homemade English Muffins, a Quiche Lorraine, roasted potatoes with roasted red, yellow and orange bell peppers, Dijon and crema with a side of fruit with a volunteer staff is no easy task. Everything has to be hot and come out at the same time. They were phenomenal. And the best part is that we raised about $30,000 pesos for the refuge with almost every peso going straight to support the kids.

Completely exhausted and coming down with the flu saw a good two hour siesta. But upon waking up I was once again hungry so Cristhian and I decided to El Arrayán. Again, it is a favorite of mine for Carmen's extraordinary regional Mexican cuisine. The pigs feet tacos are a real fave of mine so I chowed down once again. Carmen joined us and we caught up. Again I asked her to support the Refugio by donating for the big event. Without a blink she said she would speak to her chef and somehow arrange it.

So for those who do not understand a life in food I offer this: food brings people together. Whether it is seeing old friends and having a canape or working in the kitchen to raise funds for a worthy cause or shopping, or dining at establishments that support so much in our community it all centers around the most basic human need in the world ... eating.

Invite a friend over and share a meal or support a restaurant that supports the needs of the people who are our next-door neighbors. Off to Trattoria Michel tonight. Another great and supportive restaurant.

Buen provecho!

Seth Cloutman is the owner of Food by Seth, which provides services as a private chef, caterer and cooking class instructor. Specializing in French cuisine, Chef Seth develops menus that use these traditional techniques to include a broader cooking style that includes Northern Italian, Spanish, American Regional and Mediterranean cuisines. Full rich flavors, beautiful presentation and freshness coupled with experienced staff and attention to all the details will make your dining experience memorable. For more information, call 044-322-131-8808 or visit

Click HERE for more articles by Seth Cloutman

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