Where Everyone is a Star
Article by Dawn Spectre for Cabo Dream Homes
Flora Farms is a destination unto itself. The lush hideout encompasses a farm oasis populated by niche boutiques, Culinary Cottages, and its world-renowned farm-to-table restaurant, Flora’s Field Kitchen and Farm Bar, a grocery, and the Mango Grove, a lush setting for events and weddings, all set amidst extensive gardens.
Cabo Dream Homes spoke with Chef Guillermo Tellez, Flora’s Field Kitchen wizard whose culinary magic enchants the world at this farm-to-table eatery, the product of Flora Farms’ intrepid developers, Gloria, and Patrick Greene.
Chef Guillermo is an affable man, gregarious, with a twinkle in his eye and sense of joie de vivre that is contagious. He is originally from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, and lived in the US from his teenage years on. He attended Madeleine Kamman’s Professional Cooking School for American Chefs at Beringer Vineyards in the Napa Valley and became the first-ever winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Felipe Rojas-Lombardi Award of Achievement for Hispanic Chefs. He worked his way up in the restaurant industry until earning a position with world-renowned Charlie Trotter, where he remained for 16 years.
Chef Guillermo is grateful for the road that has brought him to where he is today. He became a chef, he shared with Cabo Dream Homes, because,
“… of the simple fact that if I learned how to cook I would never go hungry. You know the saying, if you give a man a fish, you feed him for the day, if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for life.”
This simple philosophy has blossomed into an exacting palate and strict adherence to striving for dining exquisiteness that aligns perfectly with that of Flora Farms. Farm-to-table dining is the core of Flora’s Field Kitchen, their “…goal is to create a healthy family meal with a sense of place.” The majority of offerings included on the menu are sourced onsite or locally. For Chef Guillermo this aligns perfectly with his methodology, which is to start with the most pristine organic plants and humanely-raised animals. It is something says Chef Guillermo, he has been striving for in his 35 years in the industry.
Chef Guillermo has always been at the forefront of the organic food movement, taking great satisfaction in seeing how it has ‘taken root’ globally.
He had his first taste of Los Cabos, professionally, in 2004 when he opened “C” restaurant in the One&Only Palmilla resort for Charlie Trotter. It instantly made the Robb Report Magazine list of the Best of the Best. He spoke with us a bit about the excitement of coming to Los Cabos then, with its ‘virgin’ soil, and helping to initiate the organic and farm-to-table restaurant movement. He said it was both a challenge and an opportunity to teach and work with small growers and convince them to grow more varied produce for the local restaurants in this climate. It was not an easy sell. The chef shared that now in hindsight, he and Gloria and Patrick Greene, among others, also pioneers in the local organic movement, feel a great sense of accomplishment to see farmers growing organically and excelling at what they do.
From One&Only Palmilla, Chef Guillermo returned to work with various restaurant concepts, training chefs and staff from the ground up in Miami, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia. He and his family continued to visit Los Cabos during this time, drawn by their love for the people, culture, beaches, and desert. In 2015, he joined Flora’s Field Kitchen. Chef Guillermo was enticed by not only the unique concept, but “their unwavering striving for excellence, from service to wine to food, since opening, which was, and is, inspirational.”
Flora Farms includes a 150-acre ranch and works with local farms to produce more than a hundred varieties of organic fruit, vegetables and herbs all year long. They work with a second-generation farmer from the area, who provides humanely-raised animals. For Chef Guillermo, he explained, the challenge at Flora Farms is to create fresh combinations that provide a magnificent food experience. He says he loves the challenge of taking familiar products, like blood sausage or raw artichoke and letting their simple flavors sing. He said,“
Our preparations are very simple but full of flavor. It’s the simplicity and rusticity, and never compromising any ingredient’s intrinsic flavor.”
For Chef Guillermo this comes from developing his palette over the years. To reach culinary heights, according to Chef Guillermo,
“You must not be afraid to try something different, and not just dipping your finger in, but eating a spoonful and experiencing what the diner will experience. You need to learn what works well with what. And if you have experience and you know your palette, you can turn simple products into something great.”
We asked Chef Guillermo what his favorite menu item was. He responded by saying, “That is like asking a mother who her favorite child is – an impossible question to answer- I love them all equally.” For him, the highlight of his menu is the freshness. “I love the vegetables,” he smiles and shares, that for a chef to be able to harvest and serve fruit and vegetables at the height of their season, on the same day, is the only way.
When pushed to name that favorite menu item, he stated, it really depends on how hungry you are. The menu is seasonal, so right now, he shared, “The chilled corn soup is sensational and if you really want to experience the farm, the pork chops are unbelievable too. We also do simple meals like pizza, vegan pasta, and grain salads.”
How does Mexican cuisine play a role in Flora’s Field Kitchen menu? Chef Guillermo loves the bold flavors and slow-cooking techniques used in Mexican cuisine. He says that at Flora’s Field Kitchen the Mexican influence is subtle, utilizing the essence of some traditional Mexican flavors to offer a delicate accent, but not the defining element in the menu. They use locally grown chilies and use guajillo peppers in their own farm-collected honey which is incorporated in sauces. Also grown on the farm are some of the world’s best mangoes, gigantic guavas, Mexican dates, and cactus leaves called nopales, shared the chef, which are incorporated into the menu in various ways, like the nopal and rabbit stew.
Cabo Dream Homes readers are interested in learning more about Mexican cooking, so we asked for recommendations. Chef Guillermo, an enthusiastic and natural teacher, recommends you do your homework:
“Read a little bit about the ingredients, especially the chilies. In order to cook, it is best to understand the flavor profiles of your ingredients and this is where the development of palette comes into play, where you combine your own knowledge with the new ingredients to create something beautiful, where the flavors do not clash but are enhanced.”
Live music, top-tier service, and a magical alfresco environment attract Los Cabos’ most distinguished residents and visitors. It has won many awards and been featured in culinary and destination magazines for its restaurant, events and culinary Culinary Cottages, including Travel + Leisure, Forbes, and many more. Flora Farms hosts all manner of events, both private and community-oriented, raising funds for many local charities, as well as showcasing local musicians with its Songwriter’s Sessions.
“Flora Farms is growing slowly,” states Chef Guillermo, “because they want to last a long time. It is growing organically, like the farm itself.” He says it is a passion that makes it work, “You have to be able to do it from the heart. Shoot for the stars and you can attain great heights.”
For Chef Guillermo, everyone is a star and he says, “Knowing that at the end of every night that he and his team did their best, while watching guests leave with a smile and a heartfelt thank you, is his greatest reward.”
Flora’s Field Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. Only brunch is served on Sundays. Mondays they are closed. It is located in Las Animas, ten minutes from San Jose del Cabo and well worth the journey. Reservations are recommended at: 624-142-1000.