Chef’s Corner with Jesse Perez of Fuego
Located on the waterfront in Long Beach, CA comes a new rustic and refined restaurant: Fuego. Situated within the new Joie de Vivre property, Hotel Maya, Fuego has the perfect waterfront dining atmosphere and the most amazing foods, prepared by Award-winning Chef Jesse Perez. Chef Jesse comes to Fuego from Nava–a Panos and Paul restaurant specializing in Southwestern cuisine in Atlanta. Chef Jesse just brought home the Flavors of Passion National Award and he has lots planned for Fuego. For more information on the new Hotel Maya, check out our LA Hotel Guide.
What does journeyPod recommend? Definitely start off with the lobster ceviche with aji chile. Chef Jesse loves chiles! And the Yucatan achiote chicken tamales are amazing. They are a unique orange color, made so by a natural coloring agent. And if you call 48 hours in advance and tell Chef Jesse that Andrea from journeyPod sent you, he may even make you his fabulous flour-less chocolate cake…yum!
journeyPod enjoyed a fabulous tasting with Chef Jesse then sat down to have a one- on-one conversation with this inspiring, young, and talented Chef.
Chef Jesse you just won an award, Congrats! Can you tell us about the award:
Thank you. Yes. I just was presented with the award a few weeks ago. It is the Flavors of Passion Award. This was the inaugural year for the award. It is the James Beard Award of Latin Chefs.
What events to do have coming up here at Fuego?
Each Sunday afternoon, the grounds of Hotel Maya will come alive with a weekly Maya Fiesta Domingo – an outdoor brunch celebration of music, dancing, and food. We had our first Fiesta Domingo last week and it was a huge success. Be sure to make a reservation!
What three ingredients much you always have in your kitchen?
Salt, chilis (dried and fresh), and citrus
If you weren’t a Chef, what would you be?
I actually went to school to be a history teacher at the University of Michigan.
If you could eat anything for your Last Supper, what would you request?
Crispy beef tacos, rice, beans with Louisiana hot sauce. I love Louisiana hot sauce–I grew up with the stuff and it always reminds me of home.
Who would prepare this Last Supper for you?
Chef Mark Miller. He has been my mentor and friend and while it would take awhile for him to prepare (he likes to cook slow) it would be great!
What is the craziest request you have ever received?
A customer ordered medium rare filet, grilled asparagus, and chilli-whipped potatoes…pureed!
Any crazy celebrity requests?
Vivica Fox ordered a salmon sushi roll….at Nava. As you know, Nava is a Southwestern cuisine restaurant! I made it and she was happy.
And speaking of celebrities, Chef Jesse, who all have you cooked for?
I cooked for the stars of Housewives of Atlanta, Hillary Swank, Dallas Austin, Reggie Bush. I cooked for a lot of athletes when I was in the ATL. Oh, and Wilmer Valderrama from That 70’s Show.