At age 20, most adolescents would be just getting into the workforce, but not for Canadian Chef, Tadd Chapman. Armed with a fiery entrepreneurial spirit, a culinary education and some restaurant experience, Chapman boldly ventured into the resort city of Los Cabos on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula to set up his first restaurant, the Tulip Tree.

TaddChapman

Chapman was fascinated by Los Cabos and Mexican culture when he first visited Mexico in 1998 at his father’s invitation – a realtor who was then selling real estate in Los Cabos. A month later he uprooted from Canada to set up shop in Los Cabos. When asked why he chose the city, Chapman responds with a big smile, “Los Cabos is beautiful, warm, has incredible gastronomy, safe and is like a home away from home. Through culinary school, I remember talking to my friend about going to Brazil and building a restaurant that extends onto the wharf so guests can dine by the ocean.” The proximity of Los Cabos to Canada and the relaxing lifestyle was an ideal choice.

Opening a restaurant on foreign soil has its challenges, but that did not deter Chapman from pursuing his dream. Says Chapman, “When I approached the Mexico authorities, they were reluctant to issue my visa even after the restaurant was set up and my crew was ready to go. The authorities doubted my ability to operate a restaurant because of my age.”

Fifteen years later, he has three restaurants (Don Sanchez, Habanero’s Gastro Grill, The Retro Burger Bar) under his belt and a string of awards. In 2010, he was voted the “Best Chef in Los Cabos” in the Cabo Social “Best of Cabo Awards”. Prominent Mexico Traveller Magazine featured him along with 2 other chefs as one of the top Celebrity chefs of Mexico in 2012.

Tequila

Chapman is always working on new and innovative menus to stay ahead of the curve in his industry. His cooking style is “Mexican Fusion” where he combines elements of local cuisine with international flavours ranging from Mediterranean, Asian to California Pacific Rim. “In all my menus, I use fresh, organic ingredients including USDA certified organic products if they are available locally. Almost everything is organically grown here, fresh seafood and vegetables are readily available in Los Cabos,” remarks Chapman. Don Sanchez offers fine dining with a Mexican twist and Habanero’s, a gastro grill and tequila bar is a casual diner. Sports lovers would enjoy his Retro Burger Bar equipped with big-screen TVs and serving some of the city’s best burgers. Chapman and his restaurants has become a significant contributor to the Los Cabos dining and social scenes, the local community and charities.

“Opening a Mexican restaurant in Vancouver or Victoria may be a project to consider for the future. It would be fun to come back and bring true Mexican cuisine to the Canadian West Coast. Los Cabos is home for now,” says Chapman who is accustomed with the country, its culture and language.

Mexico is a country bursting with a cornucopia of flavours. Its time-honoured gastronomy is the first ethnic cuisine in the world to be documented by UNESCO on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. “Culinary travel to Mexico is growing in popularity among Canadian travellers,” says Cesar Mendoza, Director of Mexico Tourism Board, Vancouver.

OysterFood

There is a whole new world of gastronomy to discover beyond tacos, guacamole and salsas. In Los Cabos, one can enjoy freshly caught fish and succulent seafood like jumbo prawns, octopus and giant clams from the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific Ocean. A great time to sample some of the city’s best cuisine is at the 8th Sabor a Cabo International Food & Wine Festival to be held in Los Cabos from November 24th to December 1st, 2013. The theme is “Made in Los Cabos”.

Cabo Expeditions, a leading tour operator in Los Cabos offers food adventures to experience the city’s vibrant, eclectic culinary scene. For a thrilling gastronomic experience, they also take visitors to harvest their marine feast and cook them right on the beach, Los Cabos Style.

Nestled by the Sea of Cortez, The Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort is a perfect retreat for those looking for a romantic getaway or family vacation. Guests can also enjoy an authentic Cabos culinary experience in Girasoles de la Hacienda, one of the resort’s eight dining outlets.

More information on Chef Chapman and Los Cabos culinary scene is available on the links below.

Tadd Chapman Restaurants

Los Cabos Gastronomy

Los Cabos Dining

8th Sabor a Cabo International Food & Wine Festival

Cabo Expeditions Culinary Tours

Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO ON MEXICO ORGANIC PRODUCE

Photos courtesy of Nikao Media.