KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
Born and raised in Gridley, California, he grew up with his parents and grandmother, all from Southern Mexico. Beginning at the age of four, he traveled north through California, up through Oregon and Washington to harvest for the seasons’ ingredients. Gonzalo’s first restaurant job was at a local California-Mexican restaurant, where he started as a dishwasher and shortly after hired as a cook. He loved being in a commercial kitchen.
Later, Rivera moved to San Francisco to attend culinary school and take on an externship with Michael Mina. Michael Mina was growing his empire and he put together an “Opening Team” that assisted and educated new restaurants with Michael’s expectations and menu, one of whom was Gonzalo who joined the opening team, working with new teams in Laguna Beach, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, San Jose and San Francisco.
From 2003 – 2009, Rivera held the position of Executive Chef for Mina Group, working at Mina restaurants that range from Michael Mina Restaurant at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco for three years to then Nemi Restaurant in Mexico City for two years, which was named “Top 23 restaurants in Mexico” from Travel + Leisure. Prior to that, Rivera was Sous Chef at Michael Mina Las Vegas, Bellagio Casino and Hotel, as well as Sous Chef at Aqua Restaurant and Pisces Restaurant in San Francisco. Most recently, Rivera was Executive Chef at Capella, a luxury resort in Ixtapa, Mexico that garnered #1 boutique hotel in the Pacific with a food score of 97.2 by Conde Nast Traveler. At Capella, Gonzalo returns to the Bay and makes a return to Mexican flavors with a menu close to his cultural heritage.
During his time in Mexico, Rivera met his wife who is from Morelia Michoacán, Mexico and they spent over five years there before moving back to the Bay Area.
Chef Gonzalo and I met at COPITA in Sausalito for our Foodie Chap chat, margaritas in hand. I found a Chef with a passion for his cultural heritage and for expressing it through his food. We talked, we laughed, he cooked and we talked some more.
Enjoy the conversation and the knockout ceviche recipe – it’s a tango on your tongue!!
SEABASS AND BAY SCALLOP KUMMEL CEVICHE
¾ pound fresh seabass, cut into 1/4” slices
3/4 pound Mexican bay scallops, cleaned
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons Kummel liqueur
2 tablespoons agave nectar
¾ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon minced serrano chile
3 tablespoons celery, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
15 celery heart leaves
¼ cup Pepita Mix (see recipe below)
Place the seabass and scallops in a bowl set over ice and add the lime juice just to cover. Season with salt and let sit 15 minutes. Drain.
In a bowl, combine the Kummel liqueur, agave nectar, lime juice and salt to taste. Add the serranos, celery, scallions, seabass and scallops. Season with salt.
Mix everything and place in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with celery heart leaves and Pepita Mix. Serve tortilla chips on the side.
¼ cup pepitas
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Preheat an oven to 375F.
Place the pepitas and cumin seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
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