This week on Chef’s Story, Jair Tellez joins host Dorothy Cann Hamilton to talk about his story to becoming a chef at MeroToro, and opening his first restaurant, Laja, located in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California. After trying to study anthropology and law, he made his first jump into cooking when he was 13, at the Tijuana racetrack, where his father told him to go. Afterwards, he started out in the French Culinary Institute, and began an apprenticeship at Daniel. Here his eyes opened when he had to prepare 24 potatoes, and he continued learning through the rigors of a prestigious restaurant. After a brief stint at the Four Seasons in Mexico City, he moved to San Francisco to work with Roland Possot. After realizing he missed his native people, he started Laja, in Baja California. Laja pays homage to the natural richness of Baja California and supports itself with its own orchard and local producers to make a dynamic menu, rigged by what the season allows. With a yearning for opening a new restaurant in Mexico City, Jair opened MeroToro with a focus on urban food. To Jair, Laja is vertical, and MeroToro is horizontal, but both are his own, in a way. This program has been sponsored by Consider Bardwell Farms.

“At some point it [Laja] was only two cooks. It was a great, fantastic opportunity.” [27:50]

“Part of being a professional means making sacrifices. The burden of understanding is on the professional, not the customer.” [29:30]

Jair Tellez on Chef’s Story