Balcón del Zócalo bets on professionalizing Mexican gastronomy

  • Balcón del Zócalo is a restaurant that offers a spectacular view and a new interpretation of Mexican food.
  • In an interview with Business Insider Mexico, chef Pepe Salinas shared with us his menu, which is adapted according to the season.
  • In addition, he explained to us the work that Balcón del Zócalo is doing to professionalize gastronomy, not only in its kitchen, but also in its living room.
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On the sixth floor of the Zócalo Central Hotel in CDMX there is a restaurant that not only offers a spectacular view of the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace, but also a new interpretation of Mexican food: Balcón del Zócalo.

Although the restaurant has more than 25 years of history, it underwent a renovation seven years ago that included the arrival of the Chef Pepe Salinaswho helped transform its classic style to a contemporary concept.

“We make an interpretation of Mexican food with the flavors, memories and ingredients that exist throughout the republic, but we seek to give it a more current presentation and scene,” said the chef in an interview with Business Insider Mexico.

“In this, any diner can link it with the moment we are living and the natural evolution that Mexican food has to have,” he added.

Balcón del Zócalo has a fixed menu that can be enjoyed all year round and includes dishes such as beef brisket, shrimp risotto and escamole tlayuda, which have become favorites, according to the chef.

However, certain variations are made to the menu depending on the season, since some products are no longer available or their flavors are not the best for the moment.

Courtesy: Zócalo Balcony

“We work seasonally: spring, summer, autumn and winter,” explained Salinas. “What changes is our demo menu”.

For example, if you visit Balcón del Zócalo right now you can enjoy their spring 2022 desserts, which include Keto Strawberry Cheese Cake, Citrus Tart and Almond Cream Tart, Iced Coffee Macaroon, Rum Tropical Cream and Amalia Chocolate Cake. .

There’s also a seasonal tasting menu of six tacos and two desserts that will change come summer.

“They are more experimental and in smaller portions. The intention is for it to be a completely gastronomic experience, accompanied, in some cases, by mixology, which is another of the strengths we have in the restaurant”, he added.

Balcón del Zócalo works on the professionalization of Mexican gastronomy

Chef Pepe Salinas remembers that when he began his career there were only one or two gastronomy schools in CDMX. Today, there is a much broader offer, which includes other careers such as tourism, focused on service and customer experience.

“That has helped to stretch the borders, to make the kitchen more innovative and to be able to work with more technology,” he said.

With this in mind, Balcón del Zócalo is 100% focused on providing the best service to its guests, not only in the kitchen, but also in the dining room, while they enjoy their dishes.

Chef Pepe Salinas
Courtesy: Zócalo Balcony

“We have something called the room revolution: everything happens at the table, which means giving weight to the service profession,” explained the chef.

“For a long time, just like being a cook, service was not taken as something professional. Today it is clear that a person studies to be a chef or a sommelier, but not to be a waiter. There is no such concept in the minds of the people who study the degree”.

To change this, Balcón del Zócalo works with a young staff, but one that has dedicated itself to gastronomy and customer service, reinforcing it with training.

Balcony of the Zocalo
Courtesy: Zócalo Balcony

Its commitment to professionalizing Mexican gastronomy includes that the staff who work in the room know different languages, the history of a dish or product and have the sensitivity to understand an allergy, preference or tastes of a nationality.

“Working in the room is wonderful and you have an incredible closeness with the client. It is a very developing area that we are working on,” she added.

To professionalize gastronomy, a lot of work is needed

For chef Pepe Salinas, the professionalization of gastronomy also means that people who work in this profession, tourism and service enjoy others having a good time.

“If they do not like to serve, they are not fit for this job,” he said.

“If your uncles come to visit and you don’t want to serve them a soda, you don’t enjoy heating up tortillas for lunch, or you’re not willing to sit down and listen to a friend’s problems, you have another way.”

Another piece of advice from the chef for those who are starting their career in this industry is to work hard in the first few years, since “you have to be a good cook and waiter so that the path is easier later on.”

“Don’t skip steps. Do not jump to want to be managers or get frustrated for not being chefs, because then you will not reach the goal, ”he recommended. “They have to do all this part because although we are professionalizing it, it is still an experience trade.”

“Every trade requires expertise. If you do not spend those hours working from below, in the future those positions that you expect will not arise, ”she concluded.

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