Ernesto’s Update on Culinary Institute of America

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams


February, 2020

I thought it was a good time to update you on my goals to make Mayahuel a leading Sacramento restaurant with the ultimate goal of earning a Michelin rating. This is not ‘all about me’ – it’s only together that my team and I can rise to the challenges that bring excellence in all we do.  Mayahuel represents what I feel is the best in Mexican culture and I hope to share that with the world.

As you know, I’ve been going to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Napa Valley. It’s been my dream to become a Chef who can someday walk alongside such greats as Enrique Olvera, Anthony Bourdain, and Thomas Keller and speak their language.

I’ve successfully completed two semesters, and am in the middle of my third of five. My current assignment is an externship at Farm at Carneros, part of The Carneros Inn Resort and Spa in Napa. Here, I am given the opportunity to work in many areas of the restaurant – at the moment, I am one of the line cooks.

I want to share with you that it’s hard work. Much tougher than I anticipated. But challenging ourselves to greater things is necessary in order to grow – whether you’re a bus person, server, dishwasher (I have done all these jobs) or a restaurant owner. There is greatness in each of us if we reach deep and work hard.

Think of Culinary School as Boot Camp. Out of the 33 serious aspiring Chefs in my class who began their journey at the same time as I did, only 12 of us remain. Classes are intense and nothing less than excellence is demanded of us.

During the first two semesters, my classes included intensive classes covering subjects such as ‘Professionalism in Hospitality’, ‘Gastronomy’, ‘History and Culture of Food Worldwide’, ‘Food Systems – how it grows, where it comes from, how it’s transported, etc’, ‘Butchering techniques’, ‘High Production Cooking’, ‘Food Safety’ (I received the coveted Managerial Certificate), and many more.

My day begins at 4:00 a.m. and ends at midnight. I study, do homework (3 or 4 hours of homework every day!) and make time to visit Mayahuel to check in and see what might be needed of me. I drive from Sacramento to Napa and back every day. My externship at Farm at Carneros is from 2:30pm-11:00pm every day. There, I take orders from the Chef and everyone in the kitchen.

I hope to graduate in December –10 months to go! Why do I keep this grueling schedule? My goal is to bring Mayahuel to greatness – to put it on the map with the best restaurants. To gain greater knowledge of every aspect of creating amazing food, and help develop outstanding menus with Chef Eduardo.

Mayahuel is poised to be included as one of the top Mexican Restaurants in our area. We received the coveted Michelin Plate award last year, and hope to eventually earn a Michelin Star. Restaurants around the world work hard to try to earn Michelin status – and few succeed. Only about 2,800 restaurants worldwide have been recognized by Michelin. The next level above Michelin Plate is the ‘Bib Gourmand’, which I hope we earn this year. Michelin conducts many visits and ongoing inspections to evaluate a restaurant – and once on their list, they continue to re-evaluate to ensure a restaurant meets their high standards.

The Kitchen, here in Sacramento, received a star last year. We are happy for them – it’s recognition of their commitment to excellence and we think high time that Sacramento is on the map as a dining destination.

Fifteen years ago, I said I wanted to become one of the foremost Mexican Restaurateurs in Sacramento. To accomplish this requires hard work and commitment as well as an in-depth understanding of every aspect of the business of hospitality. As a Chef, I’ll have the opportunity to work alongside my team to elevate Mayahuel to a true food destination.

My goal is not only to become a leading Chef, but also pave the way with innovations in the hospitality industry. Like Thomas Keller of ‘The French Laundry’ in the Napa Valley, Enrique Olvera of ‘Pujol’ in Mexico (which is ranked in the top 20 restaurants in the world), I hope to share my passion for my culture with others. As followers of Mayahuel, you are an integral part of the future.




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  1. 1
    Gwen Amos

    Ernesto, so proud of you as a person on our planet! You have inspired me and many others with your creativity and passion!
    Congrats on becoming a chef- you are amazing!

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