Saturday, September 26, 2015


What your destination wedding catering choice says about you is very important. Today we will continue or expand on a theme I touched on in previous posts about what catering tips we can give you in order to have an incredible foodie extravaganza in your very special day in our wedding venue. I stress private because it is this feature which gives you the freedom to unleash your culinary explorer within; No buffets or hotel restrictions here, you can choose any vendor or menu you like. Puerto Vallarta is only 25 minutes away and Punta de Mita is also 25 minutes away from Bucerias, so we have both Mountain region and open ocean areas around us where we can source our fresh local farm and sea ingredients. In my culinary career I have learned that great chefs are not only great for using proper or new techniques; They are great because they cook what is fresh and in season and know how to combine these local ingredients.

In the old days only royalty and nobility could pay to import anything and that is why the kings and nobles had "great chefs". Believe it or not, nawadays, it is more expensive overall to prepare food with local ingredients than to import and cook a fish from imported all the way from say Vietnam for example!

Lucky for us we are in Puerto Vallarta area and do not need to import fish. Our country has access to cheap ingredients that are amazing! So, for your tropical feast you can choose from fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood and some farm animals.

Martoca Weddings Catering believes your destination wedding menu should reflect the street food in the area. My goal as a chef is to offer the local and street food vibe but on a fantastic presentation to our guests. The trick is to just upscale the presentation of the local food joints and of course most importantly, use proper cooking techniques. Proper cooking tehniques and will enhance your flavors and quality and make our ingredients and dishes that are street food "gourmet". That is the difference between a great chef and just just a house cook. For example, fried chicken needs to be deep fried at 365 degrees and not put in the oil until it is actually at 365 degrees. Most people make this mistake of putting int he chicken in the batter and when they put it in the not hot enough oil the batter slides off and also gets soggy and full of grease. Anyway, I am going off here from the subject, but that is what we do: Excersize proper cooking techniques and with great local ingredients and showcase our menu with fine presentation; That is the key to our menu and why we suggest it to all our couples and their guests. We want you to taste Mexico in every bite. We want you to have the street food or local dishes from hole in the wall family joints without the dust and bacteria, ha,ha. Safety first.

So, here is a sample of a dish we love to make and share. I made this dish once in Whole Foods in Austin in their Oyster bar (ye an oyster bar inside Whole Foods I promise) and people went nuts. I had to give out 7 recipe cards to my friends and my clients in the bar. Now, Puerto Vallarta area or Bahia de Banderas, as the bay is called, has many different dishes that are spectacular. I would put them up against Shrimp Scampi any day or Sole Meuniere. I will just focus on one example for this post:

Camarones al Ajillo: This is so simple yet so delicious. We use large Bay Shrimp and devain it. Clean it and then dry it. Lightly dust it with Salt and pepper and flour and then sautee it in minced garlic and Guajillo chile mojo and butter/olive oil mix. Make sure not to over cook the shrimp. Let the dust turn golden brown and pick up the sauce. 5 to 7 minutes tops cooking time. Serve with white rice and grilled veggies or refried beans or a side salad. Typically it is served with a side salad and/or beans in local restaurants. Now how would I enhance it so it is upscale and amazing for a wedding caliber presentation and "gourmet'? I would serve it with the white rice and grilled veggies but keep the heads for presentation and actually cook the veggies myself and not use frozen veggies. I would also serve the rice plain (because the sauce is rich the rice should be plain in this dish for balance to cut the garlic and chile sauce) but I would put some avocado slices to make it look amazing. I would lay the Shrimp vertically over the veggies with amazing grill marks and use the sauce as guarnish. So it is a typical local dish but served super elegantly and you save a bundle and people think they are eating like kings. Which they are!
Don't Forget we make our own tortillas on site

OK, that is my post for today. Find catering for your wedding that uses local ingredients and enhances the lives of the people in the area. Each wedding we produce gives jobs to many local farm and fishing coops and workers and sustains families. We do this job for us but also for love of our community. Ask us more about how each dish we create helps our community.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Hola Brides and Grooms! Let's work on your menu for your amazing beach wedding in Puerto Vallarta area! I know I do not look like a chef in this picture below, but it is festive and we are all about fiestas with great food and bar!

I am a certified Cordon Bleu Chef in charge of catering in a Wedding Venue in Bucerias, Mexico called Martoca Beach Garden. I would like to talk to you about selecting your menu for your wedding day in Mexico; In our particular case, we want to focus on Sea-to-Table and Farm-to-Table dishes and ingredients so let's begin with our reason behind promoting a local menu.

Did you travel 2,000 miles to eat a Steak? NO. Did you travel 2,000 miles to eat Sliders? NO. Our clients enjoy great food as well and know they can find better steaks and burguers in the USA. Our bride and grooms are encouraged to create a menu that showcases our vast array of local ingredients and styles of cooking. We believe your wedding should be a cultural extravaganza. This includes not only the theme in decorations and bar but also the menu for the dinner and tapas. Tapas are our equivalent of appetizers in North America.

So, I usually explain to my catering clients that there are 7 traditional types of cooking methods in the world such as broiling, braising, baking, frying, roasting, poaching, grilling, steaming, sautee and such. I can name the rest but it is not important. What is important is that we dominate all of them and can cook anything you like as long as you give us the ingredients and the recipe. However, we like to focus on Mexican Food. Not the Tex-Mex or US Mexican food although we can make it as well; It is very tasty! Even though we love Tex-Mex, if cooked properly, we still think you should introduce local Mexican food in your wedding. So let's take a look at a sample of what we recommend for your wedding so you can have your guests culturally in shock yet very impressed and raving about your food choices!

All french dishes in essence can be replicated by our team, any cuisine for that matter, with our ingredients and spices. All we do is use our local ingredients. We prefer you do not choose imported items but like I said we can cook anything you like. However this is about a local Mexican Coast Menu for your wedding:
I suggest you use these ingredients:

From Local Sea Protein: Fish, Large fresh water Crawfish (prawns) in season, Rock Lobster, Shrimp, Octopus, Scallops, Oysters, Clams. We highly recommend using these ingredients in your wedding. We will have them delivered fresh the morning of the wedding by boat.

From Local Farms Protein: Pork, Chicken or Rabbit or goat or Lamb. Beef we have but unless it is braised I would not expect a dry age cut or a steak comparable to Nebraska or Texas or Montana beef etc. Also we have amazing diary for fresh cheeses made locally from goat and cow.

From Local Gardens: Many fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Many kinds of herbs such as parsley, hybiscus, cilantro, basil, thyme, epazote, hoja santa, banana leaves and more.
Spices we have less but a few locally but these we usually get in store. Vegetables locally we have pretty much anything we need such as local lettuce, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, huitlachoche, squash, squash flowers and much more. We produce much for export in this area. Specially fruit which is why our area exports mangoes, guavas, pinnaple, avocado, limes, lemons, grapefruit, etc.

So as you can see we can make almost anything you like as far as Mexican Food goes and we prepare it with local ingredients if you desire. We help our local farmers and fisherman and families.

A fun menu sample for a wedding that really wants to show your guests our local cuisine would be for example:
Appetizers such as Ceviche (lime marinated fish), tostadas de Mariscos (seafood usually shellfish), mini hard shell fish tacos,  shrimp in vara (shrimp roasted on wood fire on a stick or a kebab), MIni Shrimp coctail our style, Cueritos (pickled por rinds, Chicharron (pork rinds deep fried with salt and lime and chili powder mix), and many more ideas to shake things up and use local ingredients from the sea and traditional local street food with great presentations.

For dinner well, any of the ingredients I talked about above wil be magnificent cooked with any of the methods and sauces. Such as a Fish en Papillote, Sarandeado Fish (grilled whole fish with a red Mole sauce), Fried Ajillo fish filet (all line caught fresh fish), grilled Shrimp and lobster Kebab, etc.

Remember all sauces come from the 5 mother sauces and therefore I can replicate or play with any sauce you like and give it a special touch and of course in Mexico we have our moles. Which is like in the US a roux, or in Indian food is Masala or in Spain it is a Sofrito... Cooking is so much fun. Just mix ingredients and serve. We cook every dish on site and on time. We do not over cook chicken breast so that it is so dry you cannot taste it. We do not cook chicken breast in mole because you should never braise lean meats for example. That is a no no. We do things right!

So, if you want to show your guests a great time give them a chance to eat local prepared food at your Mexico Beach wedding. Let the dishes inspire their dance moves. We promise that our Mexican Menu is not your Chipotle Restaurant salad bowl. We are a culinary catering team that enjoys showing the world why Mexican Food is now a world heritage award winner by the United Nations. Think French food classical cooked with our spices and ingredients. After all Mexico gave the French the  tomatoes, corn, peppers, Chocolate and the avocadoes... anyway. We owe them for their mother sauces, cooking methods, techniques and Champagne. And they owe us for ingredients and Tequila and Mariachi!
This is a good article if you want to learn more about the complexity of gourmet Mexican Food cooking:
Buen Provecho!

Sunday, September 13, 2015


You may have a problema when you have family from Oklahoma and family from Manhattan meeting in your wedding in Puerto Vallarta; Unless you plan properly: You will have trouble finding the one size fits all hotel. So we have some suggestions for booking rooms for weddings that have such a variety of guests so you can all be happy together.

Wedding Venues that are private such as Martoca Beach Garden do not need to be booked in a package and therefore your guests can stay anywhere they like. The idea is for you to help them locate the ideal hotels or condos that fit your logistical requirements and their budgets and styles. For those who like a private chef and not commercial all-inlcusive properties they can stay in condos. As for those with kids and who do not want to cook at all there are All-inclusives with entertainment for kids. The main point is that private venues have the huge advantage over hotels of not restricting your guests to book a minimum amount of rooms at the hotel. So, how o we suggest you keep everyone happy? You stay out of it and give them suggestions!

So for those who want to be independent and want to feel as a native: Offer them some villas or condos or non-all inclusive hotels which in Martoca's case we have them all around us and can be easily found with our services or you can do it on your own with or etc. Also normal European style hotels (serve breakfast only) are available.

For those who want convenience for the whole family I suggest All-Inclusives. There are basically two types of hotels that are recommended for your guests: The typical nice 4 to 5 Star range All-Inclusive or the Luxury upscale All-Inclusives. The family oriented typical 4 to 5 star typical package hotels which range from 110 to 240 USD per night per person such as RIU Hotels, Melia, Hilton, Westin, etc. OR, the Luxury All-inclusive which is more for people who want upscale food and Top Shelf Alcohol Brands that cost about 270 pp per night up to 450 or more. i.e. Four Seasons, St. Regis and Local brands are Grand Velas and Villa La Estancia in Nuevo Vallarta area.

For those adventurous budget hawks, I suggest you offer them the Condos on and let them cram in or a 3 star All-Inclusive. Usually these are the young guys who do not mind accomodations and just want to be in the party area. It is important to care for your elder and yourger crowd. I suggest to know your guest list and with this you will be able to offer them a good selection that can accomodate all tastes and budget.

So in conclusion you must follow these rules for finding accomodations for your guests in your private destination wedding in Bucerias or Vallarta area (or anywhere for that matter):

  • Know your Guest List so you can know their limitations and taste and try and find common ground
  • Do not book the rooms for them or put your credit card down for them because you may be stuck with the bill or will have chargeback problems if they cancel or break somehting etc. Just avoid this: Use a travel agent or let the hotel handle it directly. Just find the hotels and negotiate rates and then step aside!
  • Ideally all guests will stay in the same location, but if the budgets are not equal or tastes are too different offer 3 options as explained above: Private Condos and villas, 3,4,5 Star hotels/All-Inclusives or go with Upscale hotels/All-Inclusives.
  • Logistically it is ideal to have all guest accomodations to be within a mile from each other so the transportation can work properly and fluently; and of course it is cheaper to have only one pick-up and drop-off location.

DO NOT take personal responsability for accomodation reservations and dealings. Spare yourself!
The MOST important thing when booking accomodations for guests is to NOT take responsability for the rooms and hotels. You have enough stress. Just point them in the right direction and give them the terms you negotiated (Or we did for you) and from there let your guests decide which ones they like and if not any then let them go elsewhere. Your job was finished when you gave them the suggestions. Believe me. You do not want to be dealing with 4 hotels for 60 guests or 150 guests. I suggest you like they are on their own as far as the hotels.

Of course, it is easier when they are smaller parties or if all guests are all in one hotel or condo complex; But we all now that not everyone can afford or not all guests will like what everyone else likes, so that is the beauty a private venue gives you. It gives you freedom for you and your guests to book wherever they like and therefore you are stress free and you probably will have more of your loved ones at your party because you will not force them out with high rates or limited accomodation options.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Why choose a unique private wedding venue?  

In Puerto Vallarta there are many hotels yet they offer no privacy for your weding ceremon and reception. Brides seek a private wedding venue like Martoca because they want the most important thing of all: Freedom!

Freedom to party late
Freedom to decorate
Freedom to choose your menu
Freedom to bring your own vendors
Freedom to spend as much or as little as you like
Freedom to have live music
Freedom to bring your own alcohol
Freedom to let guests stay where they like
Freedom to be in private and not have tourists photobombing you!

In other words, a private venue gives you the freedom to do as you would do in your own backyard.

We welcome you to La Martoca: Nuestra casa es su casa!