Chef Q&A: Ismael Perez of Margarita’s

Margarita's Executive Chef Ismael Perez's popular appetizer of fresh guacamole includes fresh, ripe avocados, mashed and combined with diced fresh tomatoes, chopped green jalapenos and diced onions then finished with a splash of fresh lime juice.

Jenine Ouillette/Special to the Eagle

Margarita's Executive Chef Ismael Perez's popular appetizer of fresh guacamole includes fresh, ripe avocados, mashed and combined with diced fresh tomatoes, chopped green jalapenos and diced onions then finished with a splash of fresh lime juice.

Margaritas - Marco Island

1069 N Collier Blvd, Marco

Executive Chef/Co-owner, Margarita’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine, 1069 N. Collier Blvd. No. 221, Marco Town Center. Phone: 239-394-6555

Began working at present restaurant?

We, my wife Diana and I, opened as Cilantro Tamales in June 2005, then we decided to change our name, but not our location to Margarita’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine in October 2007.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef/cook?

That’s an interesting story. In 1994 I came to Marco Island from Mexico and my first job here was dishwasher at Konrad’s. There, I became really interested in all kinds of food and it made me decide that I wanted to be more than a dishwasher. Bob Aylwin, Konrad’s executive chef (at the time) noticed my interest and began my training — teaching me everything about working in a kitchen. Within a year I started in prepping, then I was promoted to the line, working there (Konrad’s) for a total of four years.

What was your first restaurant job?

Konrad’s was many things to me, but my first job as a line cook was at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort. After two years I left there, and went to work in the Bavarian Inn as the executive chef for three years until I decided to open my own Mexican restaurant in June 2005 when a location became available in the Marco Town Center Mall because the Big Kahuna restaurant had recently closed.

How long have you been cooking professionally?

All in all, almost 14 years.

How would you describe your cooking style?

Traditional, authentic Mexican cuisine.

What is your most popular dish?

I’d say our vegetarian, shrimp or sizzling fajitas with the sizzling being a customer favorite because you get a choice of chicken or steak sautéed with red and green peppers, onions, pico de gallo, all seasoned with my secret Mexican spices and served with warm tortillas and sour cream. Also very popular is my signature seafood creation Cozumel shrimp that I make with jumbo shrimp, sautéed onions, fresh cilantro, green olives, garlic and fresh lime juice served over rice and drizzled with our warm salsa verde.

What is your favorite wine/food?

I enjoy an occasional glass of white zinfandel wine with the mixed seafood platters I cook for the family.

Do you cook at home? If so, what would we always find in your fridge/freezer?

Yes, I often cook meals at home usually with chicken breasts from the freezer. My wife Diana and our children, Elizabeth, Edgar and Eddie like my grilled chicken with linguini in Alfredo sauce that I make with Asiago cheese.

What is your secret ingredient? Why?

Cumin, because it adds a delicate layer of flavor to meat dishes.

What would you like to be doing if you weren’t a chef?

I would like to be a famous soccer star.

What annoys you most in the kitchen?

Messy and wet cutting boards.

What do you enjoy most about your profession?

I most enjoy creating new dishes for my customers, because I’m especially happy when I hear how much they enjoyed their meal in my restaurant.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features