To stay productive and have fun while confined at home, Velas Resorts in Mexico has created a program of activities for all ages to do at home. One of the initiatives is “What’s in Your Pantry.” People are encouraged to send in a list of what’s in their cupboards and fridges. Once submitted, Velas Resorts’ chefs will create an easy, but very delicious, original recipe for you. The initiative is just one of the many ways the resort wants to keep in touch with its audience and make these days a little bit more fun and peaceful. We reached out to Michel Mustière, Velas‘ Culinary Director to learn more .
What inspired the idea for “What’s in Your Pantry?”
We wanted to do something special for our guests and followers. As personalized customer service at the resorts is a priority to us, why not continue providing it where they are now? We know meal prepping and cooking can be difficult for some. It’s easy to run out of ideas for meals with limited ingredients and a struggle to find simple but tasty recipes. Spending all your time at home is challenging, as well. That’s where we come in!
With our WhatsInYourPantry initiative, people can share a list or picture of ingredients they currently have in their pantry or fridge. Once submitted, Velas Resorts’ chefs will create an easy, but very delicious, original recipe for them.
“Comfort food is anything that feels like love when you eat it.”
Do you have any culinary advice for people stuck at home who don’t really cook?
In times like these, it’s very important that we take care of our health. Since physical activity has decreased as most people are now inside most of the day, now more than ever it’s imperative to follow a balanced and nutrient-rich diet.
We all know that simple carbohydrates, fatty sugars, processed foods, soft drinks, etc., are the worst enemies for our bodies—more so if there is a lack of exercise. Fresh foods are the best to eat, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat, but due to convenience and availability, frozen foods are also acceptable and encouraged.
It is also recommended to maintain an eating schedule (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two small snacks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and practice portion control. It is tempting to head to the fridge and snack throughout the day, but it’s important to show discipline, especially if one’s physical activity has decreased.
With that being said, it is also recommended to do home workouts such as yoga, jumping rope, and sit-ups. Such exercises can easily be done in any home without special equipment. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is essential.
To help people decide what and how to cook their next meal, we developed the WhatsInYourPantry initiative. We are also producing video capsules with cooking tips and creating videos that showcase our chefs making simple recipes to help those at home.
What are the five things one should stock in one’s pantry?
Meal prepping is an effective and efficient way to eat healthier. Fresh options are the most preferred. There are many meal delivery services that allow people to choose from a variety of recipes.
For me, I believe the most essential things in your kitchen are:
- Frozen products, such as vegetables, fruits, meats
- Basic cooking products, like oil, salt, pepper, dried herbs
- Breakfast options with low sugar and low carbohydrates, such as multigrain cereals, waffles, and bread, whole-wheat flour for pancakes, etc.
- Low-fat dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Easy-to-cook items, such as rice, beans, and pasta
What inspired you to become a chef?
Food has always been an important part of my life. I grew up taking part of various culinary traditions on both my mom and my dad’s sides of the family. My mother came from a family that grew up on the island of Reunion located in the Indian Ocean. They cooked with products and ingredients from the same island, from India, Asia, and Africa.
On the contrary, my dad’s side of the family had a very French approach to food and cooking. My grandparents were great farmers and several of my uncles and cousins are great butchers. The culinary scene in Normandy where my dad was born and raised in northern France is more traditional, with many classic ingredients such as cream butter, the best animal protein, and the most beautiful vegetables and fruits from the cold region such as apples, pears, and red berries.
Living between these two culinary worlds inspired me to become a chef. After two years of vocational school just on the island of the Reunion, and after receiving my two professional diplomas of basic education in cooking, I moved to Paris and worked in different restaurants for six years. After that, I arrived in Mexico in a large and well-known hotel in Mexico City where I quickly learned to adapt to the hospitality mode, which is a little different from the restaurant mode.
Over the course of many years, I became the executive chef in several major hotel companies. Now, it’s been two and a half years since I became the Culinary Director of Velas Resorts. Everyday, together with my team of chefs and cooks from our six properties, we work to offer the best international gastronomy with their respective specialties to our guests.
What is your favorite food, and why?
This is a difficult question for me to answer. After years of exploring many types of cuisine and styles, there are too many incredible culinary masterpieces I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. It’s difficult to lean towards one dish or another. I will confess that my favorite kitchens are those made with love, such as my wife’s or my mom’s. These are the kitchens that inspire creativity and produce priceless experiences and memories.
I love cooking French cuisine as there is a lot of variety in the dishes you can experiment with. It is also elegant and pairs well with other cuisines. The options are endless.
What does “comfort food” mean to you? Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?
Comfort food is anything that feels like love when you eat it. It could be anything. Being in Mexico, tacos are one of our main comfort foods. And at Velas Resorts we like to look at alternatives while still being true to the dish.
•1 lb octopus
•1 C carrots, chopped
•1 ½ C onion, sliced
•1 C celery, chopped
•4½ Tbsp garlic, chopped
•½ C leeks, chopped
•1 C butter
•1 Tbsp vegetable oil
•1 C guajillo chilies, seeded & sliced
•1 C lemon Juice
•salt & black pepper, to taste
Place octopus, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, leeks, salt, and black pepper in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool; drain and cut in bite-sized pieces.
In a medium pan, sauté the remaining garlic, remaining onion, and guajillo chili in the butter and vegetable oil until fragrant. Add the octopus, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Top tortilla with octopus mixture and enjoy!
Learn more about What’s in Your Pantry here.
Mary Bemis is Founder & Editorial Director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is a pioneering spa journalist, most recently honored as one of the "Top 30 Influential Voices Transforming Wellness." She is an inaugural recipient of Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and was honored by ISPA with its distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She is a Global Wellness Day Advisor, and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.
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