Mucho Gusto Garzon
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Chef Santiago Gomez
Born in Mexico City, Gomez’s interest for cooking was sparked while he worked as a deliveryman for a local seafood distributor and often observed chefs at work. Their focus and passion inspired him to go to culinary school and in 2007 he graduated from the city’s top culinary academy – Centro Culinario Ambrosia. Gomez confesses he has always had an affinity for higher education and following graduation, continued his studies in Barcelona, Spain at the renowned culinary and hospitality school, Hofmann.
Gomez graduated, after that a friend encouraged him to join him and see what Miami had to offer; and an opportunity to work for the fast-expanding NOBU brand seemed opportunity enough. Although he spent just one year in South Florida working for NOBU, before returning to home to open NOBU Mexico City, he recounts “Miami life” memories of serving Lenny Kravitz and partaking in extravagant Dom Perignon truffle dinners.
Upon his return to Mexico City, Gomez danced his way into the palate of NOBU “restaurant regular” Alberto Cinta – who more importantly was the, ceo and co-founder of Mexico’s largest hospitality company, Cinbersol Group S. A. Cinta hired Gomez as Sous Chef for a Thai/Japanese concept they had plans to open called Erawan. “The lineup was a ‘dream team’ of chefs,” says Gomez, which included a former chef of Miami’s China Grill, an experienced sushi chef from Los Angeles, a chef from Thailand and the pastry chef of NOBU.
Those two years at Erawan scripted the next volume in Gomez’s culinary novel. Gomez worked on multiple concepts for the Cinbersol Group in multiple capacities, including SUD777, a fine dining restaurant in Mexico City that was recognized by San Pellegrino as Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Gomez was eventually promoted to Execuitve Chef where he would open Cantina La Numero 20 from scratch designing the menu and kitchen, which today is one of the Group’s first internationally expanded concepts. When it’s initial Mexico City concept opened, it was so popular that after just 18 months it started a multi-city expansion eventually opening three additional concepts in Polanco, El Angel and Santa Fe.
Before opening Cantina La Veinte in Miami in July 2014, Gomez made a stage at DANIEL by renowned chef Daniel Boulud. He set out to “refresh” his kitchen techniques, but notes that what he found most valuable was learning the precision and technique behind the actual operation of a Michelin-starred kitchen. When arriving to Miami in early 2014, Gomez was naturally filled with culinary creativity, but used his experience at Daniel to aid in the actual kitchen design, which he believes is a huge help in the restaurant ability to executing timely service to their very frequently packed-house of diners.
After a year Cantina La Veinte has garnered national acclaim; the restaurant’s most recent feature in Travel + Leisure had writer Anya Von Bremzen referring to the space as possibly one of the city’s most stunning new restaurants and dubs Gomez as an “Ace young Mexican Chef.” Awarded as one on Miami’s best Mexican restaurants by Zagat and one of the hottest Mexican restaurants in town.
While rising his way up into the Miami Food scene Chef Gomez has been invited to participate in some of the most important gastronomic events in the city such as South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2015 and 2016, Battle of the Chefs , March of Dimes, Dinner Lab and as a Chef host for American Airlines Arena.
He has also been named by international brands as their spokesperson and local ambassador for special projects and récipe developer for Barilla, Tabasco, Don Julio and Florida Dairy Council.
With almost 2 years in the Miami market, more than 7 with Cinbersol group and 5 restaurant project development and openings, Gomez is ready to open the group´s next restaurant by the end of 2016, a mind-blowing Farm to Taco concept, ¨Mucho Gusto¨ at Downtown Miami´s newest Brickell City Center which promises to be the new ¨Place to be¨.