Grupo Monalisa exec chef Jacob Ramos – Interview

Meet Grupo Monalisa´s executive chef Jacob Ramos in this interview. He is in charge of the sublime cuisine at Sunset Monalisa restaurant in Los Cabos.


When your love for cuisine was born?
When I was 8 years old I first started to like to cook. I would wake up in the morning on the weekends and make my family breakfast so my mom could rest. Everyone really liked my breakfast so it’s something that I really started to like and took a lot of passion. I started to read recipes and gave my mom a grocery list at that age.

Which are the dishes you like to cook the most at home?
Grilled steak and veggies with garlic mash potatoes, and aged balsamic vinegar as the sauce. Its easy. Good. No dishes to clean (except the mash potato pot). And of course I love making breakfast and salsas. The art of making salsa is sublime.

What were your impressions the first time you went to Sunset Monalisa?
I knew instantly that the combination of my food, and the environment, with the way the staff moved and acted, would create an extremely special experience.
I love Leonardo da Vinci, and thought the Sunset Monalisa was the perfect place to paint my own masterpiece.

Who would you consider to be your cuisine-mentors?
Alec Lester he was my first chef. He didn’t except anything less than perfection from me. He taught me everything that I needed as a new chef in a fine-dining kitchen from start to finish.



How is your process of creating a recipe?
I’ve been to many restaurants in my life and have traveled a lot. If I liked the restaurant, I would always go back to use that place as a reference. When coming up with a dish, I will pull out all the books that I remember have something similar. I will pull up all the restaurants that I like at that moment and look at all the menus and recipes in the books. I will research flavor profiles. Start to ravage through all my previous menus and notebooks from years. Then I start to visualize the dish, the colors and flavors, and what plate I will use. That is in menu writing mode.

But basically, inspiration can come from anywhere.

Old dishes keep changing every time I find something new.

Or see something cool. I will think to myself, oh, that would go good on that one dish I did last summer.

What is that most excite you about cooking?
The happiest moment of cooking what I look forward to is people take the first bite and smile with happiness.
I don’t get to see it much because I am in the kitchen, so I guess when someone comes in the kitchen and says that they loved their meal.

Which is your cuisine style?
I cook French; it’s my root of cooking.
But I love Mexican because I grew up eating my mom’s and grandma ‘s enchiladas, so I am always feeling like a trader for loving to cook French over Mexican.

Favorite food?
To eat no doubt sushi.

Why would you recommend Sunset Monalisa restaurant in Los Cabos?
It is becoming more than a restaurant. It is becoming a place to come if you want an extraordinary experience.

Where will you get that view? Michelin star quality food. Award-winning wine, artists that sing amazingly. It animates all your senses. With myself and the team, we won’t stop till we are the best, so every time anyone comes, it should be better than the last visit. It’s a place that won’t stop getting better.

Please, tell us a little bit about your background as a chef.
I went to college at the California school of culinary arts in Pasadena in 2001. I worked at a few little restaurants around school that were high quality. One day I lost my cell phone, and the gentleman that found my phone was the director of operations at Patina restaurant, a 1 Michelin star in LA. He somehow pulled some strings and got me in as a prep cook in the catering kitchen. I gave it all, everything I had every day physically and mentally. Within three months, I was sous chef. I worked there for three years and then my chef sent me to the one Michelin star Patina Restaurant. Again starting at the bottom, within three months of working the line all day and night, I became sous chef. I worked a total of 9 years with the Patina group holding many positions over the years, climbing the ranks.

Later, they started building the Ritz Carlton in downtown LA, which was the most prominent, shiniest building. When the Ritz Carlton sign went on, I knew I was going to work there. The chef called and asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to be the one in charge, and the rest was history. Opening the Ritz Carlton DTLA was the first time in the world that three hotel brands opened in the same building. Ritz Carlton Los Angeles. JW Marriott LA Live and Ritz Carlton Residence.

After doing high volume food for two years at LA Live, I went to open the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe with Michelin Star & James Beard award-winning chef Traci de Jardin, and we began the hotel and restaurant. Within the first year, we received nominations for James Beard and was ranked number 3 restaurant in all of the Ritz Carlton company.

After three years with Traci, I met Jose Andres, who was one of the best chefs in the world at the time, and he recruited me to open up the first Ritz Carlton Reserve in North America, in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico. I trained in Washington DC with the Spanish el Bulli team of all research and development. I moved to Puerto Rico and opened up Mi Casa by Jose Andres in Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve. We received the 4th best restaurant in Latin American and nomination for a James Beard award within our first year of operation.

Three years later, I missed home and had an opportunity to have my signature restaurant within the Ritz Carlton Los Angeles, which I jumped on and moved home, but none the less I still worked in a corporate environment.

Three years later, Giammarco Vela, head of Monalisa Group, found me, and the rest is history. I moved to Cabo to make the dream of having one of the best restaurants in the world.

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