Pioneering fine dining in this town that is now renowned for it, Swiss-born Roger Dreier was the first chef to open a gourmet restaurant in Puerto Vallarta.
Arriving here in 1983 by way of Mexico City, Roger quickly developed a loyal following through a catering business he started, which led to the opening of Chef Roger – the place to go for a decade and a half.
Not only did it serve fabulous haute cuisine combining a traditional European approach with the imaginative use of fresh foods native to Mexico, it was absolutely charming, tucked into a downtown side street for 13 years and on Basilio Badillo for two.
Then, sadly, it closed. But after a transition period, during which he helped other Vallarta kitchens gain great reputations, Roger recently opened Mañana, a beautiful restaurant on the Punta de Mita beach, Anclote.
And predictably, it was immediately popular with the people buying the fabulous homes and condos in the area and the guests at the Four Seasons, Mañana already the “in” place for folks in the area to meet and a great destination for a drive out of town.
Not one to forget his old friends, if you had a favorite plate from Chef Roger tell him, and he just might whip it up for you, his new restaurant emphasizing lighter gourmet fare appropriate to its beach setting, like salads and pastas and, of course, his trademark pates.
Roger and his wife, Rosa, who comes from a distinguished Vallartense family, have an 18-year-old son, Roger, the couple a team in both life and the hospitality industry for 22 years.
Published Nov 13, 2006
If you were here during the ‘90s, chances are you’ll remember with fondness the late Swiss-born chef Roger Dreier and his namesake restaurant Chef Roger — the place to go in Puerto Vallarta for nearly a decade and a half. And in recent years, his Punta de Mita beachfront eatery, Mañana, has proven equally popular.
And small wonder, Roger a super-talented chef who greatly influenced Vallarta’s culinary scene and earned a loyal following in the process. He introduced gourmet European cuisine, upscale catering services, imported wines, and the concept of dining in a warm European ambiance. Patrons adored his flair and commitment to the kitchen, Roger whipping up their favorite dishes even when not on the menu, his trademark pâtés on everyone’s wish list.
Sadly, he passed away this summer at 46, leaving his Vallartense wife, Rosa, who worked side by side with him over the years, and their 19-year-old son, Roger. But we will certainly not forget him. Nor will his peers, some of whom reminisce here.
“I have just lost one of my closest friends, whom I met 25 years ago when he was making and selling sausages in Mexico City before moving here. Chef Roger was the perfect place to dine and feel at home at the same time, so I frequented it three or more times a week. Roger and I are not only from the same country, but the same neighborhood. And we have similar educations and interests. A fellow Chaine de Rostisseur member, he was an extraordinary chef with an incredibly discriminating palate.”
Heinz Reize, Coco Tropical chef-owner
“I met Chef Roger when he was working at the Camino Real in the early ‘80s. He later opened what was probably the best restaurant in Vallarta back then, and I went there a lot. We became very good friends over the years, and every time my wife and I returned to Vallarta we rendezvoused there. His restaurant was where the European community would get together, especially the Swiss. And on the first of August every year he held a Swiss party. His food and service were always excellent. And on several occasions he was part of Vallarta’s Festival Gourmet.”
Roland Menterrey, chef and a Festival Gourmet organizer
“For me it feels as though he is still among us. A pioneer for modern chefs and the culinary evolution that took place in Puerto Vallarta, he is someone I have always admired, the one chef everyone was talking about when I arrived here 18 years ago. The level of cuisine he offered was unparalleled, and he paved the way for the rest of us. Whereas some in our profession chose to become entrepreneurs, I admire him for always remaining close to his stove, his sole passion the kitchen.”
Thierry Blouet, Café des Artistes chef-owner