Muscat: For Latin American flavours, Rumba Lattina is the new destination in Muscat, where Head Chef, Guillermo Vidales Favela, promises nothing but authentic dishes made with the best ingredients and spiced with his passion for food.
Although the restaurant, located in The Cave complex along the Qurum Heights Road overlooking Darsait, only opened at the end of June, Guillermo arrived in Muscat six months ago to start planning the menu, hiring his team of chefs and arranging suppliers.
Both the menu and the staff represent much of Latin America, with chefs and dishes from Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and other Central and South American countries.
"The owners wanted original flavours and original Latin food with the regional flavours. I looked for ingredients to make every dish the most traditional way. We make everything starting from zero, with nothing ready-made. It's special. You don't find anything like this in Oman," Guillermo says.
At 28, Guillermo is quite young to be a head chef, but he's got generations of fine cooks behind him.
Before getting his first job in a restaurant when he was 18, he was already learning his family's recipes.
His eyes light up when he speaks of his grandmothers, his mother, and his grandfather, whose Spanish roots have also influenced Guillermo's tastes.
"We ate a lot of Spanish food, like paella. I grew up with those flavours. My maternal grandmother is very good at cooking Mexican food. I have one of my mother's recipes on the menu. I think they will feel proud of me," he says humbly.
Before coming here he worked in a number of restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico's second biggest city, where he learned from some of the country's top chefs, and even international chefs who had experience in kitchens alongside big culinary stars like Gordon Ramsay.
"My mentor, Chef Jorge Boneta, taught me to love the traditional ingredients in Mexico, like chocolate and chilli," he explains.
He loves chillies, such a jalapenos and habaneros, which are essential ingredients in Mexican cooking.
He also loves seafood, which isn't surprising since he grew up in Los Mochis, a coastal city in north-western Mexico, so quite a few prawn and fish dishes made it onto the menu at Rumba Lattina.
He says that customers at Rumba Lattina should come with an open mind and willingness to try new dishes. So far, they have been impressed, he says, even with dishes that are surprising to their tastes, like chicken with mole, a chocolate-based sauce.
"Every day, I go to the tables and get their feedback. Most of it is very good. People like the food. Omanis think it's very original," says Guillermo.
The young chef, whose other passions include music, skateboarding and extreme sports, even created a dish that fuses Latin American and Omani flavours. His "Omani Cordero" is lamb served with a cardamom and date sauce.
Guillermo admits that when he was offered the job, he didn't know where Oman was, but he was interested in having an opportunity to share a taste of Mexico in a faraway land.
"It's a new challenge, a great challenge, to bring my culture, my flavours to the Middle East," he explains.
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