MnB Inspiring Chefs: Meet Chucho Rojas the new executive Chef for Meat N' Bone

MnB Inspiring Chefs: Meet Chucho Rojas the new executive Chef for Meat N' Bone


 In our quest for culinary excellence, we encountered a tapestry of remarkable individuals. In October 2023, our team received the distinguished commission to devise a gastronomic repertoire for the Miami Film Festival. This menu was to harmoniously complement and embody the essence of "The Taste of Things" (Pot a Feu), a 2023 French historical romantic drama penned and helmed by Trần Anh Hùng. The film, graced by the talents of Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel, celebrated its premiere on May 24, 2023, at the 76th Cannes Film Festival. It contended for the coveted Palme d'Or and witnessed Trần Anh Hùng's triumph as the Best Director. The film's French release was on November 8, 2023, and it was France's contender for the Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards.


The cinematic piece was a cornucopia of classical French cuisine, presenting a formidable challenge to our Catering Team in rendering justice to its culinary themes. In our pursuit of authenticity, we sought the insight of Chucho Rojas, an acquaintance with a profound culinary lineage. Chucho had previously collaborated with Pierre Gagnaire, the esteemed chef who not only guided the culinary direction of the film but also made a cameo as a chef. Gagnaire's mentorship of Chucho inspired him to assist us in curating the menu.



The dinner event was nothing short of spectacular, leading to our enthusiastic appointment of Chucho Rojas as our Executive Chef.

 

Chucho, who are you? 

I define myself as a chef in constant search of the relationship between being and creation. I am restless, curious, a thinker, reflective, introspective, but at the same time, extroverted. I am a chef who strives every day to be more honest with my proposal and increasingly consistent with my training and origins. In short, I am someone who cooks both in the kitchen and in life.

 What is your story?

I hail from Tucupita in the Delta del Orinoco, Venezuela, where I was born into a family deeply intertwined with culinary arts. Our home was a haven of flavors and a bastion of the joy that comes from sharing our creations with others. From an early age, I was captivated by the arts, aesthetics, and the profound joy they bring to life. It was during these formative years that I found cooking to be a vibrant medium for expressing my artistic passions. My childhood was marked by early ventures into the kitchen, transforming my enthusiasm for cooking into a lifelong pursuit.

My culinary journey began in earnest with the establishment of my first restaurant in Tucupita. Ambitious for professional growth, I set my sights on the Gregoire Ferrandi school in Paris, renowned at the time as the world's premier culinary institute. To reach this pinnacle, I charted a path through the Alexandre Dumas school in Illkirch, Alsace, France, and honed my skills through internships at prominent restaurants. This marked the start of my grand culinary adventure.

Following my educational odyssey in France, where I led esteemed restaurants such as La Vieille Enseigne and Au Cocodrille, I embarked on a career of research, public speaking at conferences, and restaurant management. My journey briefly took me back to Venezuela, where I engaged in various consultancy projects and launched a new restaurant in Caracas. This period catalyzed my evolution into a public figure, as I became the face of prestigious brands and a prominent participant in conferences, radio shows, magazine publications, and television programs, both locally and internationally.

In addition to my professional endeavors, I dedicated myself to social work, actively contributing to foundations and NGOs, underscoring my commitment to giving back to the community.

 

What do you do today?

In 2018, I embarked on a new chapter by relocating to the United States, intent on establishing and managing my culinary consultancy firm, Kulinaria LLC, in Miami. From the outset, I engaged with a variety of restaurants and nascent gastronomic ventures, offering guidance in their inception, supporting their development, and imparting the wisdom accumulated from my professional experiences.

Despite the geographical shift, I have maintained the media connections forged during my time in Venezuela. This continuity has enabled me to feature in prominent television shows and programs across both North American and Latin American networks. In recent years in the United States, I have devoted myself to writing and championing Venezuelan culture. As an active contributor to the Historia de la Arepa movement, we have published three books in celebration of World Arepa Day. These works delve into contemporary issues such as global peace, the narratives and memories of chefs and arepas, and the stories of arepa entrepreneurs globally. Our second book in this series has been honored with four Gourmand Awards, and our third book has received three nominations, with the results eagerly anticipated.

Simultaneously, a significant portion of my time is dedicated to the SOY MAESTRO project. This initiative allows me to share my culinary knowledge through teaching, a newfound passion that facilitates both imparting lessons and continuous personal learning.

 

The new challenge:

With tremendous zeal, I have embraced the role of Executive Chef Consultant for the Meat N' Bone group. This opportunity revitalizes my fervor for service, teaching, mentoring, learning, and collaborating with an extraordinary team dedicated to their craft.

In this role, I have found a synergistic harmony that enriches my daily experiences, aligning seamlessly with a company whose values, mission, and vision resonate deeply with my personal ethos and aspirations. This venture, right from its inception, has unveiled the immense potential of this new alliance, heralding a future replete with promise and excitement.

I love this project because it combines everything I love doing, teaching, cooking and developing's products... Meat N' Bone offers product development, catering and restaurant operations. 

 

What was your first experience in the kitchen?

Throughout my career, I could say that I have had many first days in the kitchen (many first experiences in it), each leaving an immense mark on me.

From my first day in the kitchen of my home guided by Chef Jennie, to my first day in the kitchen of my own restaurant in Tucupita, or in the kitchen of Chef Jean Christopher Lange, a 2 Michelin star chef, or in the kitchen of Pierre Gagnaire. In short, my first experience in the kitchen is undoubtedly that of my own kitchen, where guided by my curiosity and with Chef Jennie's guidance, I took those first steps in the technique and professional practice of the stoves.

 

When did you know this is what you wanted to do?

Like any young person, concerns are present, and although cooking captivated me from the first day I entered it, it was after undergoing much training and experiences in other disciplines such as journalism and cinema that I decided that cooking, in all its expressions, was and would be the career I wanted to pursue in the future.

 

Tell us about your experience at the prestigious Gregoire Ferrandi school and the French Academy of Sciences and Herve This.

The Ferrandi school was the "Mecca" of culinary schools worldwide, and just stepping into its classrooms was an extraordinary experience.

Being trained in the tradition of French cuisine and the innovation that the world demanded at that time was essential to create the chef I am today. I am Ferrandi in attitude, style, and philosophy. But in addition to that, this school allowed me to approach the INRA, now INRAE, an institute belonging to the French Academy of Sciences dedicated to agri-food and science research, directed by Herve This.

This experience not only allowed me to meet the great researchers in the world of global gastronomy but also allowed me to be in what was the cradle of all research in molecular physics and chemistry in gastronomy. This made a gigantic commitment in my professional life to everything I learned there.

 What is it like working in a 2-star Michelin kitchen like La Vieille Enseigne and Au Cocodrille directed by renowned chefs?

Every culinary experience contributes to a chef's growth, but the time spent in Michelin-starred restaurants, among others, leaves an indelible impression on a chef's spirit. The deep respect for ingredients, the adherence to meticulous processes, and the structured discipline prevalent in these establishments profoundly shape a chef's character. Such experiences instill a mindset of anticipatory thinking for the diner, striving to craft a distinctive experience where one recognizes that the essence of hospitality lies in the attention to detail across the entirety of the gastronomic service.
 

You worked closely with the French superstar chef Pierre Gagnaire, how was it working in his kitchen?

Chef Pierre is a remarkable individual whose teachings extend beyond words; his gestures, demeanor, smile, and even his admonitions or reprimands are profound lessons in themselves. Those who have had the privilege of working in his kitchens understand that this experience delineates a pivotal turning point in our professional journeys. His influence alone is tantamount to an entire school of culinary wisdom.

 So now you are residing in the US and developing some of your own projects. Tell us a little bit about it?

"This country is full of great opportunities." This previous phrase is so repeated and true that I can't help but repeat it to myself. My SOY MAESTRO project encompasses everything I do today, from gastronomic consultancy, classes, workshops, courses, writing, training, and content creation for my networks.

Participation in TV shows and gastronomy publications. All this is possible thanks to each and every one of the opportunities that this country offers me. And I go, and we go for more!

 

What was the experience in MasterChef Like?

Among my ventures into other disciplines, one of them was television. There, I found a space where I felt comfortable, just as I would later feel in the kitchen. But finding myself in a space where I could combine both environments was truly magical. Being the chef instructor for MasterChef Latino and having the responsibility to create successful chefs in the public eye, and then having your participation recognized and praised by the program's executives, is immensely satisfying.

This created a relationship with the reality show industry, leading me to be invited to the most-watched television show in Hispanic television, TopChefVIP, in its first season, with this show being viewed by more than one hundred million viewers.

Undoubtedly, participating in these shows is an extraordinary experience.

 

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