Plant complex in Mexico celebrates World Vegan Day (November 1)
(Photo credits: Palmaïa – La Maison AïA)
This year, for World Vegan Day (November 1), we want to celebrate at Palmaïa – The AïA House, a vegan paradise nestled between the sandy shores of the Caribbean and the lush jungle of Playa del Carmen! This first ecological plant-based complex encourages plant-based meals, both for health and environmental reasons and offers its customers 100% plant-based menus in each of its distinctive restaurants (with protein substitutes of animal origin) and all vegan suites, free of any animal product (amenities or furniture).
He also practices ‘Gifting Lifestyle’ where guests can enjoy everything the resort has to offer (from one of the most comprehensive transformative wellness experiences, Architects of Life, led by Palmaïa healers to the program. Rituals of Sound – an interactive music discovery platform) without having to exchange currencies once at the resort.
To celebrate World Vegan Day, the executive chef of Palmaïa, Eugenio Villafaña has concocted a tasty Al Pastor Plant Based Tacos Feat charred tahini garlic mushrooms soaked in a tasty annatto marinade to celebrate the vast gastronomy of Mexico.
We had the chance to ask Chef Eugenio a few questions about his experience working on this exciting new menu in Palmaïa.
* What inspired you to create the new Al Pastor Plant Based Tacos? *
Believe it or not, plant-based foods tend to have a wider range of flavors and textures than traditional foods. It constantly inspires me to take traditional Mexican recipes to the next level, using herbal ingredients. In Mexico, especially in the world of chefs, it is not yet well conceived that Tacos al Pastor can, or even should, be served with ingredients other than those with which they are normally made. Our customers often compare these tacos and without a doubt, vegans and non-vegans alike agree that these tacos are more than delicious, and non-vegans even admit that they are tastier than the traditional recipe!
* How do you decide which flavors to combine for your dishes? *
After having traveled all over the world, I instinctively bring back to my palate these flavors learned abroad. I can forget a name, but not a flavor or a combination of flavors that I have experienced. I learned that I had to taste everything before cooking it, preparing, cooking, all alone and then all together, a valuable lesson learned from my mom. Lately, I have been extremely inspired after reading the book “The Flavor Matrix”, a gift from one of our clients.
* Are you trying to cater to a non-vegan audience? *
As a chef, as the concept, Palmaïa’s dishes and menus are first and foremost plant-based, I have won the trust of our vegan guests. Nonetheless, honoring a deep conscience of the community, EVERYONE is welcome to Palmaïa, not just vegans.
Palmaïa is a gorgeous property, so it’s no surprise that many non-vegans are also interested in staying with us. They can understand the concept, but they have their own needs, so we are open to providing them with food suitable for non-vegans.
It is essential that our customers know that internally, in each of our kitchens, we have very strict procedures in order to avoid any cross-contamination when storing, cooking or serving our food.
At Palmaïa, we do not seek to vegan customers, but it is true that everyone falls under the spell of our plant concept. Quite often we get emails from our customers, once at home, because they want to replicate our flavors, or they just want to share that they are trying a vegan lifestyle after staying with us. It is so rewarding !!
* Do you source your ingredients locally? *
I would like to say yes; however, climate and geography play an important role. This means that we source as much as possible locally and the rest comes from trusted farms and suppliers in other states and countries, depending on the ingredients.
* How do you celebrate Mexico’s vast gastronomy through your food? *
Personally, I celebrate it by including it in my menus. At the same time, in and of itself, I celebrate all foods. For me, labeling foods by country or culture limits my creativity. I have a multicultural family, so I’m not a one-culture person and love to mix unique flavors without these limitations.
I started traveling abroad at a very young age. I’ve learned that we’re all one, and I don’t really identify as a pure Mexican. I let myself be influenced by the different cultures that I had the privilege of meeting and knowing, which are all reflected in my creations.
* What other eco-responsible practices are you implementing in your culinary program in Palmaia? *
Avoid the use of single plastic as often as possible (super minimizing the use of cling film and aluminum foil).
Application of the zero waste policy (manufacturing most of our food from scratch).
Reduce wasted energy sources (soaking legumes for shorter cooking times – plus other health benefits, soaking pasta for “pre-cooking” with a small amount of water instead of ‘wait longer to be cooked in liters of boiling water, etc.).
* What do you think sets you apart from other hotels in terms of herbal food offerings? *
To my knowledge, there are no all-inclusive resorts that offer nutritious, plant-based menus prepared by top chefs who not only cook for flavor and taste, but also have a very deep knowledge and understanding of nutrition, thus providing our customers with delicious, healthy and balanced meals. Our guests return home with a feeling of freshness and freshness after their stay in Palmaïa!
About Palmaïa’s first plant-based approach
Palmaïa implements a sustainable development approach through plants. Since animal consumption is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, founder Alex Ferri – himself a vegetarian – designed the property without using any animal products, and Palmaïa is the first resort to offer 100% vegetable menus (with protein supplements on request) in all its restaurants. The station has four restaurants – or as they call them, Fruit of the Earth – (gourmet Mexican, fine Mediterranean cuisine, oriental fusion, and laid-back Caribbean) all featuring sustainably sourced plant-based menus. This includes the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, LEK, serving gourmet Mexican cuisine; Mar de Olivio, a destination for a redefined Mediterranean; the oriental-fusion restaurant Ume, which fuses Thai and continental cuisines, and a revolving food truck that will serve the experimental choice of the chef of the day. This herbal culinary programming is more advanced than most hotels due to the variety of options and quality of ingredients and innovative thinking. The team cooks everything on site and from scratch, including vegan cheeses, sauces and butter to a variety of dishes made with local and seasonal ingredients such as beet carpaccio, tacos and vegetable empanadas. and vegan kimchi. In addition to the plant-based menus, all of the Palmaïa’s rooms are vegan, with no animal products (amenities or furniture) inside.
About Palmaïa – La Maison AïA
Opened in January 2020, Palmaïa – The House of AïA is a newly built beachfront retreat offering its guests unique immersive jungle and beach experiences on the Riviera Maya coast in Mexico. The resort is nestled between the sandy shores of the Caribbean and the lush jungle, where the Atlantis Spa is located. It features treatment rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, two fitness centers, including an outdoor gym, a Temescal, a natural cenote and various meditation spaces, all located between wild mangroves and centuries-old rock formations. in the heart of the Mayan jungle. Palmaïa’s Architects of Life program includes transformative wellness experiences for mind and body such as sound healing, gravity control, multi-musical vibrations, Vipassana, sun watching, various yoga practices, mandalas and more, all led by the facility’s on-site healers. Music is a key part of the guest experience with Palmaïa’s Rituals of Sound program. The resort hosts an impressive array of deep fusion electronic DJs, live acoustic artists and interactive concerts daily. Palmaïa actively participates in a ‘culture of the gift’ and all guests enjoy free access to 24-hour room service, unlimited access to four on-site restaurants (all with parallel plant-based menus) , a pool and beach service, self-service bicycles, nightly preparations, and a personal butler – or nomad guide – to meet the needs of guests during their stay.