Baja California, Mexico, has always been known for its fresh local seafood, attracting a bevy of talented chefs who love the climate, the lifestyle, and the clientele. Just 5 miles south of the artists’ enclave of Todos Santos and an hour north of resort-heavy Cabo San Lucas, Rancho Pescadero, where shoes are legitimately optional, reinvents the intimate luxury resort.
One of the biggest draws to the property—besides the empty stretch of beach with private day beds—is an organic garden that supplies the Garden Restaurant, a place where farm- and sea-to-table Baja cuisine is infused with global influences and cooking classes are frequently offered for curious travelers. The hearty Mexican cuisine will give any visitor plenty of energy for surfing, deep-sea fishing, or horseback riding at this 28-room resort tucked between palm trees and the Pacific Ocean.
The MAD5 Symposium defined for Aguila what he calls “the new way” of cooking: with passion, love, and care—not only for the food, but for the earth and its future generations.
Executive chef César Pita Aguila is overseeing the restaurant, plucking produce directly from the grounds and filling in the blanks with local purveyors in Todos Santos, a place he’s grown comfortable in. After all, this native of Querétaro, Mexico, was raised in his grandparents’ restaurant, where he began helping the chefs prep central Mexican dishes when he was only seven. He flourished in the kitchen and began cooking in earnest by the age of 14, taking the helm as the family’s third-generation chef—a skill that was passed down from his great-grandfather, Benito, who served as the chef at Querétaro City’s first hotel, El Gran Hotel.
Aguila left the family business to open his own bakery at the age of 17, supplying food to hotels and restaurants. When he grew restless, he left Mexico for Lasarte, Spain, to cook at the Michelin 3-starred Restaurante Martín Berasategui alongside the iconic namesake Basque chef.
But Mexico called to him. Upon returning to Mexico, Aguila first worked at chef Enrique Olvera’s Pujol in Mexico City, then launched his own catering and private chef business in Cabo. This led him to join the Esperanza Hotel, an Auberge Resorts property, in 2011, while traveling the world from Napa to France to evolve his culinary skills. He even did a stint in Copenhagen at Geranium, a high-concept, Michelin 3-starred restaurant. Aguila’s background in Spanish and Mexican food meshed with the intimate, seasonal, farm-to-table focus of Nordic culinary practice, which honors the tried-and-true principle of sourcing high-quality ingredients through partnerships with local farmers.