How The Cape, a Thompson Hotel turned a design challenge into a culinary call to action.

By Avery Stone
November 08, 2019
Courtesy of The Cape, a Thompson Hotel

Over the last several years, Los Cabos has made a name for itself as a culinary destination in its own right — thanks in large part to farm-to-table restaurants like Flora Farms, Los Tamaridnos, and Acre Baja. However, The Cape, a boutique luxury hotel operated by Thompson, has earned a spot on that list, too.

Courtesy of The Cape, a Thompson Hotel

The hotel, which opened in 2015, is best known for Manta, the fine-dining restaurant helmed by chef Enrique Olvera; it’s also home to The Rooftop, the largest rooftop bar in Cabo San Lucas. However, the property’s third restaurant, The Ledge — which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, as well as brunch on weekends — is serving some of the freshest food in Cabo. But the reason why might surprise you.

When the hotel was being designed, explained The Ledge’s executive chef, Victor Garrido, its kitchen was built with the assumption that 50 to 60 percent of its food — like dressings, bread, croissants, and cakes — would be pre-portioned or partially baked on arrival, which is common even at comparable luxury hotels.

However, Garrido, Olvera, and the rest of the hotel’s F&B team came in with a commitment to making approximately 95 percent of their food from scratch instead: “We decided, for example, ‘OK, if we’re going to serve black bean soup, we’re going to make it as our grandmother would have made it,’” says Garrido. “We take all the steps — from soaking the beans in water, boiling them for two hours, making the sofrito, and then blending it — instead of buying processed [ingredients].” (A few examples of things The Ledge doesn’t make from scratch includes Worcester sauce, sriracha, and cranberry juice.)

Courtesy of The Cape, a Thompson Hotel

This decision, while a no-brainer for the chefs, presented what Garrido calls a “good problem.” Translation: making food from scratch means you have more ingredients to store, which means you’re going against the natural build of the property to do it. To help illustrate this dynamic, Garrido explains how much space is required to store ingredients in just one dish: cured salmon. Twice a week, he says, The Ledge’s cooks receive a shipment of salmon from Norway. They break down the fish and cure it for 12 hours. To complete this process, however, the kitchen must store about 40 pounds of curing salt, 20 pounds of brown sugar, six pounds of star anise seeds, and four pounds of coriander seeds.

An increased inventory, in turn, means less space to store the kitchen’s perishable foods like meat, seafood, and fresh produce. The end result, Garrido explains, is that the kitchen can’t keep anything perishable for longer than a few days. In other words, The Ledge serves the freshest food because there is physically no other option.

An example is the restaurant’s fish, which Garrido says can’t last more than two days: “We don’t have the capacity to store massive amounts [of fish],” he says. “We just order what we’re going to break down and process it for today, tomorrow, and then we receive fresh fish again. It’s all fresh products, all the time.”

This results of this commitment to freshness speak for themselves in The Ledge’s ample and steady growth. Starting out, the restaurant did about 90 covers for breakfast and 15 for dinner each day; today, that number is about 230 for breakfast and 45 for dinner. Plus, at brunch service during the high season, around 80 to 100 covers are local families — something that Garrido, who is from the area, says is very rare.

Ultimately, for Garrido and his team, The Ledge’s growth is just another good problem: “Nowadays, we’re busy every day,” he says. “I hope that remains like that.”

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