Union Grill & Bar is Camana Bay’s newest ‘must-visit’ restaurant, opened on Friday 24th September. The name Union represents their combination of great wines, great food and a great service. I sat down to find out more about Head Chef, Aldo Pedraza, who brings a wealth of experience to the kitchen.
Where are you from originally? What is your favorite national dish?
I am from Mexico City. My favorite national dish is Levanta Muertos, which is Seafood Soup known for curing a hangover!
When did you first come to Cayman and why?
I first arrived in Cayman on March 28, 2019. A good friend of mine who was a chef at a well-known Cayman restaurant had recommended me for a position here. I was extremely excited to be given the opportunity to live and work in Cayman.
Where else in the world have you worked?
After having worked in several large hotels in Mexico City, I moved to Puerto Vallarta, gaining more experience, working for hotels such as the Hilton, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. While at the Four Seasons, I was given the opportunity to assist with the opening of a Four Seasons’ Restaurant in Surfside, Florida. I spent one year working in “Le Sirenuse” (a Michelin Star Restaurant) after which they sent me to Positano, Italy (for eight months), again, at their “Le Sirenuse” restaurant (with two Michelin Stars).
Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
My mum, because she did not know how to cook!
What are your favorite ingredients and why?
Corn and chili because they are the most used ingredients in my culture.
Can you share with us one of your favorite menu items and why?
For me it would be the tuna tartare, since it represents the perfect balance between salty, sweet and fresh. When you mix all the ingredients in your mouth it creates an irresistible explosion of flavours.
How do you decide what to include on the menu?
I work to ensure that each of the ingredients for menu items combine the perfect balance to give the ultimate flavour and harmony. Then begins the art of placement to not only give the best taste but also the best visual effect. Whoever says that chefs do not know how to create art, is lying to you!
Reality shows reveal lots of drama in the kitchen, how do you keep calmness in your kitchen?
When I am dealing with a stressful situation I usually think about the person I love, which helps me relax and diffuse any potential situations from occurring.
Describe what you would cook as a romantic meal for two.
After a glass of champagne, I would start with a salad or ceviche, followed by a good cut of meat with a Wagyu and Oporto sauce. I would recommend any of our delicious dessert options to go, as this would likely be better enjoyed at home!
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a culinary career.
You have to really love and be passionate about cooking, the road is long and hard but is well worth the reward in the end!
Aldo is excited about the opening of the new restaurant and looking forward to working with owners, Paul and Tara Slijper and the incredible team they have put together.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 11.30 am to 11pm, Saturday 8am to 11pm and Sunday 11.30 to 6pm.
T: (1) 345 328 2662
Article written by Juliette Heath
Juliette Heath is a Caymanian foodie, wedding and events planner, and author of childrens’ books.