Bienvenido a la fiesta! Chef Jean Brito brings a taste of Mexico to the Squadron
On the 29th July, nearly sixty members and their guests joined RNZYS Executive Chef Jean Brito for the RNZYS Chef Series “Mexican Cooking and Margarita Cocktail class” – a fun and interactive evening dining experience, celebrating the vibrancy and culture of Mexico. We sat down with Jean to hear how the event came about and what it meant for him.
Jean Brito originally hails from Mexico City but had always had a fascination with New Zealand. He first came to know about our country through the Discovery Channel (as many of our visitors do!), so was overjoyed when his career as the executive chef on a cruise ship landed him on our beautiful soil.
From witnessing first-hand how stunning New Zealand was, the desire to live and work here stayed with him, and he promised himself that one day, he would make it happen. After a more thorough tour around New Zealand driving north, south, left, right and center, he finally committed to making New Zealand his new home, and the rest is history.
The idea for a cooking class style event originally came from a function held for 20 VIPs during the America’s Cup racing, specializing in New Zealand flavours and ingredients. The event received great feedback, so the idea was planted to repeat it, on a larger scale.
Following the prestigious and formal nature of the Butterworth Estate Wine Maker’s dinner (more information HERE), Jean was keen to make the next chef series event more interactive, with an aim to encourage guests to engage with staff and each other. From asking staff and members what theme they would prefer, the consensus was strong – a Mexican theme, true to Jean’s roots!
To Drink “Para Tomar”
Hibiscus Flower “Agua de Jamaica”
Roasted Rice “Agua de Horchata”
To Snack “Para Botanear”
Prawn Aguachile Tostadas
chili, red onion, coriander, avocado, cucumber
Chicken Tinga Tostadas
chipotle, pulled chicken, caramelized onion, tomato
To Eat “Para Comer”
Double Baked Pork Belly
peach and tamarind mole, kumara-vanilla puree,
puffed spicy rice
To Finish “Para Rematar”
traditional Mexican chocolate flavours
The menu for the event was inspired by a normal day’s meals in a Mexican family home – Jean chose dishes that were common in day-to-day life in Mexico and made him feel at home. He drew inspiration from childhood, his grandmother’s recipes, as well as social snack items – “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to snack”.
The evening itself saw Jean wearing many different hats – MC, chef, waiter, entertainment, but most importantly – providing the local insight to some of his most treasured family recipes. Guests were invited to the front of the room to assist with food preparation and serving, accompanied by stories, anecdotes and inside tips for making each dish.
The event was a great success, with guests sharing, drinking and having a good time – true to the Mexican way.
“People loved the interaction, and to get out of their homes on a Thursday to do something different. Everyone was extremely happy and jovial, which is the whole point! All were sharing, drinking, having a good time, and so grateful for the experience – that’s the best for me.”