Culinary greats from all over the world descend on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in November for the 19th Annual Festival Gourmet, taking place November 14 - 23 at over 25 area restaurants, including Kaiser Maximilian at Olas Altas 38B in Colonia Emiliano Zapata.

“I think it's a really great event,” says Tony Aiazzi, guest chef at Kaiser Maximilian, “This is an unusual event because it brings all types of chefs together and they are welcome into kitchens and really become part of the team.” He likes the fact that the festival goes on for over a week and it gives the chefs time to develop recipes, soak up the atmosphere and learn something new.

Tony Aiazzi

Aiazzi started his career by attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has pretty much stayed in the Big Apple ever since. He says it is a city with a lot of crazy things going on between chefs, but it is also a place where the public eats out a lot and that drives him to be even better.

He was a Chef-at-Large with the Charlie Palmer Restaurant Group for over ten years and worked as a consultant for the group's 12 restaurants all over the US. Besides recipe development, some of his projects included menu and equipment coordination for charity benefits, showcase dinners, recipe development for regular appearances on NBC’s Today Show and cookbooks, including, The Art of Aureole and Charlie Palmer’s New American Kitchen.

The chef then worked for over four years as a consulting chef for Seabourn Cruise Line and recently he has taken a break from the restaurant kitchen and launched several other projects, such as ChouxBox, a software program for the hospitality industry; and The Sides Project, a digital cookbook series developed by his Workshop Kitchen team.

Aiazzi’s Festival Gourmet menu at Kaiser Maximilian features many interesting combinations made with local, fresh ingredients. The appetizers include, fresh oysters margertia mignonette, chilled corn and coconut milk soup and cheese ravioli with prosciutto. Some of the main course choices feature salmon roasted succotash, thyme roasted beef tenderloin and red snapper with roasted cauliflower. You cannot skip dessert with a pumpkin pudding/ginger snap parfait and molasses pound cake.

Be sure to visit Kaiser Maximilian during Festival Gourmet with a special Chef's Table to be held on Sunday, November 17 starting at 8pm. This is a six course dinner with appropriate wine pairings and is an evening you won't want to miss.

Source: Laura Gelezunas