THE DISH: MATEO GRANADOS
“The Papaya Playa Project is the next step to bring people together to share in my Modern Yucatán cooking, but this time in my homeland."
In a delicious mix of cultures, the Yucatán-born chef Mateo Granados has made a huge splash in California’s North Bay Area with his unique, playful style of cuisine, which celebrates rigorously sourced local and sustainable ingredients, wedding Yucatán and Sonoma flavors, crafted with classic French finesse. Next month, Granados will take over the kitchen at Design Hotels’ Papaya Playa Project in Tulum, Mexico, introducing guests to his signature style, already familiar to the die-hard diners at his restaurant in Healdsburg, California: Mateo’s Cocina Latina.
“I grew up in the Yucatán in a family of food producers, farmers, butchers and ranchers,” says Granados. “After years of cooking in the US at some of the top French restaurants, it’s a dream to be able to cook my style of cuisine in the Yucatán, especially in beautiful Tulum, which offers an amazing assortment of fresh seafood and great access to local produce not far from the area where I grew up—La huerta del estado, Oxkutzcab. “
Granados honed his skills cooking with the likes of Julian Serrano and Alain Rondelli, at restaurants such as 42 Degrees, Masa’s, and Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen before moving to the Sonoma County Farmers’ Markets. Starting simply after years in fine dining by selling Yucatán Tamales from his grandmother’s secret recipe at the local Farmer’s Markets, his presence in the markets soon grew to that of a mobile kitchen, where he created best-selling rustic-refined market-based breakfast and lunch dishes. At the same time Mateo’s reputation was also established as one of the top in-demand caterers for many of the North Bay’s best private parties and culinary events. Mateo somehow also found time to launch his own private label El Yuca Mayan habañero salsas, crafted from his own, homegrown chills, brimming with spicy, Yucatán style.
“For years I ran a roving restaurant that would appear in a farm or old barn,” says Granados, in reference to his extremely popular Tendejon de La Calle, a mobile restaurant that “popped up” at farms and wineries across Sonoma County and became one of the area’s best-kept culinary secrets. “The Papaya Playa Project is the next step to bring people together to share in my Modern Yucatán cooking,” he continues, “but this time in my homeland."