Unleashing Creativity, Chef Roman Ventura’s Private Dining Experience Wows Clients

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Meet Local Chef, Roman Ventura, As He Celebrates Mexican Cuisine

Photos by Miguel Avalos

Born in Mascota, Jalisco, Chef Roman Ventura, is celebrating his 10th year in the food business in Puerto Vallarta.  His love for the city, its residents and visitors, grows every year.  As Puerto Vallarta’s popularity increases, Chef Ventura is excited about the opportunities the growth presents for Mexican entrepreneurs such as himself.  Chef Ventura, recent winner of the award, Best Gay Chef – 2023, sat down with Out and About to reflect on his experience as a private chef.

How did you become a private chef?

After attending cooking school, I worked in restaurants for a number of years and while the experience was good, I knew I wanted something more.  I wanted the chance to express my creativity, my personality, my interests.  I felt being a private chef would give me this opportunity more than working in a restaurant.   So I posted a private chef ad on Facebook in 2019.  

Born in Mascota, Jalisco, Chef Roman Ventura, is celebrating his 10th year in the food business in Puerto Vallarta.
“I want to maintain quality over quantity, We have great clients, many that hire us over and over again. I want to continue to develop new dishes, create new menus and I like having 3-5 dinners/events a week,” Chef Ventura says.

What was the experience like when you first started?

Initially, it was challenging because I walked into a new kitchen every time to prepare a multi-course meal.   But I also loved the excitement of experiencing something new every time and I had fun sharing my Mexican food and culture with guests.  The experience was definitely more personal than working in a restaurant and I liked interacting with the guests.  I learned a lot from my early customers and will be forever grateful to them.

When did you decide to create Ventura Chef Services?

COVID hit soon after I started preparing meals in people’s homes and like most other people, I did my best to survive.  Fast forward to 2021, with Covid easing up, I started preparing meals in people’s homes again and I realized that being a private chef was what I wanted to do.  One new client, a recent retiree and a new resident of Puerto Vallarta, asked me to cook some meals for him.  I learned quickly this person was passionate about everything food related and he wanted to learn more about Mexican cuisine and culture.  A friendship formed and when I decided I wanted to create my business, I asked Edward (Eduardo) Potocek to help me.  In October of 2021, with the help of Edward, Ventura Chef Services was born.  Edward continues to work for me assisting with reservations, event planning, marketing and social media.   And we continue to talk about food all the time!  He’s my toughest food critic but I love his feedback.

What do you enjoy most about being a private chef?  

The freedom to be creative, to develop my own dishes, to refine flavors, textures and how I present my food.  And of course, my clients.  I have met incredible and interesting people over the last few years.  Preparing a meal in someone’s kitchen is an intimate experience because it’s usually the gathering place for friends and family.  I love to interact with my guests, answer their questions and discuss their food experiences.  My goal is to always have my food contribute to a memorable dining experience. Preparing a meal for a group and having them enjoy it is an emotional experience, for me and for them.  Usually by the end of the meal, my guests have become extended members of the Ventura Chef Services family.

There are some great restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, how do you compete with them?

Puerto Vallarta does have some great restaurants and I’m glad that Puerto Vallarta is known as a food destination in Mexico.  I think it’s important for PV residents and visitors to have options and a variety of cuisines to choose from.  But I don’t feel that what I do competes with restaurants and in fact, I usually give my clients restaurant recommendations.  

As I said earlier, my dinners and events tend to be more personal and intimate with many guests celebrating a special occasion or event such as an anniversary, birthday or reunion.  This year, I’ve catered many bachelor and bachelorette parties.  My clients want their occasion to be celebrated in a private space with family and friends and have a menu specific to their tastes.  I think the Ventura Chef Service’s team goes above and beyond in delivering excellent service before and at the event.  I love when a client says, “this was one of the best meals and evenings of my life.”   There is a true sense of comfort and joy to have a special meal in your own personal space. 

Can you describe a Ventura Chef Services experience?

Usually a client will contact us through our website with some basic information including the date, number of guests, whether it’s a special occasion, food allergies, etc.  Edward responds by confirming the date, collecting a deposit, and gathers the client’s ideas about the menu as well as other details about the evening.   Depending on the size and type of event, the planning can be completed in a matter of hours or sometimes it can last weeks.  We do formal proposals for more complicated or larger events.  Edward and I discuss menus and details in the background and usually about a week before the dinner/event, Edward will confirm the plan with the client.  

A day or two before the event, again depending on the size and complexity, I will shop and begin food preparations in my kitchen.  What I can prepare in advance is dependent on the menu as I always do final food preparations onsite at the event.

On the day of the event, my team (sous chefs, servers, bartenders) and I arrive usually an hour before guests arrive.  We begin final food preparations, set the table (I provide all the place settings) and do any other setup that is required so we are ready to serve the first course/food item at the time designated by the client.

Again, depending on the event, my team and/or I will explain the food being served.  If we are celebrating a special occasion, we usually try to include a few surprises.

Once the meal has been served, my team and I clean the kitchen.  Our goal is to always leave the kitchen as we found it so the host of the dinner/event can fully enjoy their evening with little to no work before, during and after the service.   Our time on site at the client is usually 3 – 4 hours.   After the dinner/event, Edward follows up with clients to get feedback on the food and service.  Our goal is to always exceed expectations. 

How do you create new dishes?  What inspires you?

I’m naturally curious and I’m always thinking about flavors, textures and different ingredients.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel across Mexican trying regional cuisine in local restaurants and markets. The Mexico trips has been very inspirational. Last year I went to Peru and this year I will be travelling to Argentina and Uruguay.  I also plan to visit Vancouver this year.  I love to try different cuisines and think how I can give them a Mexican twist using our local ingredients and spices.

Experimenting with how my food is plated is another creative outlet.  I always want customers to be excited visually before hopefully amazing them with my flavors.

Puerto Vallarta tourism continues to grow, how has your business changed?

I went from cooking a couple of dinners a month in 2019 to 1-2 dinners a week in 2021 to now, we can have 3-5 dinners/events a week.  Unfortunately, I’m having to turn away almost as many reservations as I accept.  Clients are making reservations up to a year in advance, especially for holidays and during the months of November – May.

In addition to increased awareness about Ventura Chef Services from social media and reviews, I have to thank businesses such as Casita & Garden who gave me the opportunity to be the guest chef at 8 Chef’s Table events.  I met a lot of new clients at these events.  I’ve also had great support from publications and social media groups such as Out and About, the Gay Guide as well as the different Facebook groups.   

Born in Mascota, Jalisco, Chef Roman Ventura, is celebrating his 10th year in the food business in Puerto Vallarta.
Chef Ventura, recent winner of the award, Best Gay Chef – 2023, sat down with Out and About to reflect on his experience as a private chef.

What’s next for Ventura Chef Services?

I want to maintain quality over quantity,  We have great clients, many that hire us over and over again. I want to continue to develop new dishes, create new menus and I like having 3-5 dinners/events a week.  I enjoy both small dinners of six people as well as parties of sixty people or more.  Each dinner/event presents opportunities to learn and grow. I have an amazing team of sous chefs, servers and bartenders and we receive a lot of great feedback about our food and service.

Will we grow?  Yes, but I’m patient.  Un poco, un poco.  I really love what Ventura Services is doing today and want to continue to excite clients with our food and services.

How do clients contact you to learn more about Ventura Chef Services?

Clients can request reservations and review our menus and services at www.venturachefservices.com.  To read about client experiences, checkout the Ventura Chef Service reviews on TripAdvisor, and you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

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