Today’s Chef is the Spotlight is Oscar del Rivero is the executive chef behind Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar and Latam Grill, Talavera Cocina Mexicana and Peacock Garden Cafe, the South Florida restaurants from the Jaguar Hospitality Group. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University del Rivero has over 20 years of experience in the culinary industry. His experience includes past restaurant ventures in Mexico, Austria and Spain, as well as extensive training with local restaurants such as Blue Door at the Delano, The Palm Hotel and Talula. Chef del Rivero has traveled extensively through Central and South America and attributes his culinary expertise to his passion for Latin American cuisine. del Rivero believes in using simple ingredients to create bountiful flavors while respecting the traditions of the dishes’ origins. This week we learn about the man, behind the big job at Jaguar Hospitality Group, Oscar del Rivero.
South Florida Food and Wine: You’re a busy man as Executive Chef and Partner of three very different restaurant concepts and menus; How do you manage such a big job?
Oscar del Rivero: I have a wonderful team of chefs and junior chefs who are eager to learn and grow in their professions. Delegating and trusting my team are some of the most important things that have allowed me to successfully manage three kitchens.
South Florida Food and Wine: After successfully launching Jaguar Ceviche where did the concepts for Talavera and Peacock Garden Café come from?
Oscar del Rivero: Our group has been lucky in that we receive many proposals and opportunities. Lalo Durazo is the restaurateur behind the Jaguar Hospitality Group; he has always been great at coming up with great ideas and fun restaurant concepts.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is a typical day for you as the Executive Chef of three unique restaurants?
Oscar del Rivero: A typical day might start with answering e-mails as early as possible and might include a team meeting or discussion of new menu additions. Next, I walk through the kitchens to ensure everything is in place. Next I might meet with a potential chef, as we are always looking to build our teams. During the lunch rush I like to be where the action is, in the kitchen, and the same goes for dinner; I usually alternate at each restaurant. Throughout the day I communicate with managers so I am always up to speed on the day to day operations. My objective is always to know as much as possible about what is happening in the kitchens. This is best accomplished through a balance of communication and regular walk throughs.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about your position?
Oscar del Rivero: Generating good chefs and cooks and building our teams are the biggest challenges. Everything else is a lot of fun if you have the right people.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to cook for and why?
Oscar del Rivero: My Aunt Gloria, because she cooked so many meals for me while I was growing up. I wish I could repay the favor.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one go-to ingredient and why?
Oscar del Rivero: Tomatoes, they are delicious and versatile. I like them fresh or cooked. They are also healthy.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Oscar del Rivero: I would enjoy a large seafood platter to share with my family. There would be stone crabs, peel-and-eat shrimp, lobster, mussels, scallops, calamari etc.
South Florida Food and Wine: Jaguar Ceviche, Talavera and Peacock Garden are there plans for other offshoots or concepts?
Oscar del Rivero: We are always considering new ideas, but at this time, we are most focused on making these three restaurants the absolute best they can be for our guests.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the last place you ate at, other than your own restaurants and what did you order?
Oscar del Rivero: I enjoyed a half-order of baby back ribs and a half-order of chicken wings at Flanigan’s recently.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to cook with and why?
Oscar del Rivero: Anthony Bourdain, because he is an interesting guy, and I like to have fun while I cook.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Oscar del Rivero: I like to ride by bike in the morning, read and relax and maybe nap in the afternoon, then enjoy a nice relaxing dinner and a movie.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one piece of advice you would offer culinary students starting out in the business today?
Oscar del Rivero: Learn from the best. Don’t invest time at a restaurant where you are not learning or you are not being pushed to do better. Learn to identify the successful restaurants and commit to them.
Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill 3067 Grand Avenue Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Talavera 2299 Ponce De Leon Boulevard Coral Gables, FL 33134
Peacock Garden Café 2889 McFarlane Road Coconut Grove, FL 33133
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