10/09/2009John Gray Is In “The Kitchen”

Chef Gray Offers Nightly Blackboard Menu
Highlighting Flavors of Mexico

When we think of Mexican food, certain flavors and ingredients (chiles, beans, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and tortillas) and certain basic forms (tacos, enchiladas, tamales, salsas, and so on) often come to mind. We generally know more or less what to expect. However, once in awhile, what is put on the table in front of us, exceeds our expectations, a fact that is perhaps illustrated in great detail, by chef and restaurateur, John Gray. For the past 15 years, the California native’s four restaurants throughout Cancun and Puerto Morelos, and have garnered him a reputation as an innovative chef whose cuisine is based on the excellent raw materials of the region, but owing more to the culinary traditions of France and the United States, than to the “cocina mexicana” of our imaginations.

Therefore, Gray has cooked up a truly unique and enticing nightly Blackboard menu for the patrons of his first and signature restaurant, John Gray’s Kitchen in Puerto Morelos. During the month of September, diners will find Gray in the Kitchen every evening cooking up an array of creative dishes, made with the freshest local ingredients – all of which have been inspired by the flavors of Mexico.

“The Nightly Blackboard Menu allows me to experiment with the dynamic flavors found in Mexican ingredients.” He continues, “By no means, am I transforming The Kitchen into a Mexican restaurant, rather, for this one month I am giving myself complete culinary freedom and allowing myself to be inspired by my daily surroundings….may it be the ‘Cocina Economica’ or small, Mexican diner menu featuring homemade Mexican staples; going down to the beach to see what the local fisherman caught that day or whatever ingredients peak my interest in the market on a given morning. It’s just exciting to be able to offers diners a nightly surprise of my interpretations of dishes that are full of generous flavors and textures, and of course which showcase high quality, local ingredients.”

The Kitchen, which opened in 2002, has become a true culinary destination and a gem of a find in Riviera Maya. In fact, the two-story building, which is nestled in a neighborhood of purposely, modest homes and typical Mexican restaurants just blocks away from the beach, actually offers diners the opportunity to feel as if they are dining in Gray’s own home.

Gray designed the building’s interior and exterior to be reminiscent of a cozy, European bistro. As such, he offers guests an experience full of intimacy, perfected by optimal lighting; a well appointed neighborhood bar; warm color scheme; California-inspired bay windows and arched view into the open kitchen. A unique piece of art greets guests as they walk into the restaurant, a drawing of “A Melting Clock.” The design was spontaneously offered to Gray by a visiting German tattoo artist, who pronounced that the drawing should be painted on what was then a plain, gray wall – that in fact resembles a canvas.

A loyal following of celebrities, world-renowned chefs, foodies, politicians and locals alike have all become charmed by John Gray’s approach to ambience, service and classic interpretations that fuse international flavors and ingredient pairings within each selection. As Puerto Morelos has become a destination for the discerning traveler, Gray has been able to offer his clientele the highest quality cuisine, all while offering a diverse selection of wines from around the world, with his newest offering being his own – John Gray’s Private Barrel Selection 2008, El Corazon. In 2008, John Gray visited the Guadalupe Valley, Baja California, Mexico’s main wine producing region, to work in collaboration with a renowned sommelier to personally hand select outstanding vintages from the region’s most acclaimed and small production vineyards. The experience offered them the opportunity to ultimately create a lesser known, yet exceptional, Mexican wine, El Corazon.

As the sole chef representing Mexico in the 2010 Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival; John Gray is the owner of four successful restaurants and one bar/lounge located throughout the Riviera Maya, Mexico: John Gray’s Place in Playa del Carmen; La Suegra de John Gray on the beach of Puerto Morelos; John Gray’s Downtown in downtown Cancun and The Den at John Gray’s Place, is adjacent to John Gray’s Place in Playa del Carmen.