#FOODMISSION​ 2023 – Alberto Nacif & Vidal Elias, Micaela, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico

Micaela, one of the most famous restaurants in Yucatán, was created out of a love for hospitality. It was inspired by the XIXth century Micaela’s ancient diary with recipes. It’s not enough for the team to serve great food with octopus as the flagship dish. By having excellent service, they want the guest to feel at home, taken care of. 

Alberto Nacif: Welcome to Miceala, here in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. We are very glad to have you here. My name is Alberto Nacif and I’m a sommelier here, in this beautiful restaurant. 

Vidal Elias: And I’m Vidal Elias, the Chef. We wanted to show you here the idea of this Mexican family table, like a regular table.

Photo: Instagram @micaelamarylena

The Best Chef: Where does the name come from?

Vidal Elias: Micaela was a nanny from the 1800s. We have found this letter that shows the love she brought to her family. So with that in mind, we created the concept of bringing all the food to the center of the table to share. She was from a place called Veracruz in coastal Mexico. She used to write about the woodfire and how to cook seafood and other food in it. What we wanted was to try to deliver this love that you can bring to the people through food.

The Best Chef: How do you do that?

Alberto Nacif: You have to do it through the service. The service is very important to us. The first thing that we notice in this industry is that sometimes the kitchen and the floor (the room with guests, as we call it in restaurants) are separated. So what we wanted was to bring all this together so we can create this experience for the customers. We want them to enjoy the table where everything comes together: the service, the food, and of course the ambiance. In Micaela, when you are sitting at the table, you remind yourself all of your fond memories, and then you are going to create new memories with the food.

The Best Chef: Can you tell us something more about the food?

Alberto Nacif: We are a Mexican restaurant –  we don’t have a special dish from any part of Mexico.  Instead, we try to use all the main ingredients, techniques… 

Photo: Instagram @micaelamarylena

Vidal Elias: All the nuances of the Mexican flavor: you can feel like you are in a Mexican restaurant but you can’t say if it’s from Tabasco or Oaxaca or Yucatán. 

Alberto Nacif: And, of course, the mezcal, the Mexican wines. All the distillados we have here, are working for this occasion to bring the fond to the table. We are trying to make people spend great time together with their families because for us it’s important that they will remember Micaela with love.

Vidal Elias: I think that in every Mexican story, we have memories created around the table. We all have memories created around our mom’s table, our grandmother’s table, and our aunt’s table. So that’s what we want to do:  generate new stories from around the table but at the same time recreate the feeling you had when you were a child in your mama’s kitchen.

Alberto Nacif: Please do not expect beautiful plates in Micaela. Our plates aren’t meant to be beautiful. We are sexy, we are strong, we are flavourful. We are Mexicans!

The Best Chef: Why do you think people should come to Yucatán?

Alberto Nacif: You should come to Mérida, Yucatán because this is one of the three most important in terms of gastronomy places in Mexico. The place where the culinary market is happening. Others are Yucatán, Oaxaca, and Puebla. The Yucatecan food has a thing about corn, the ocean, and traditions, but also – everything mixes up here. We have a long tradition of French food because we have this industry of henequen that caused the building of the railway track in the 1800s. 

Vidal Elias: We have many elements of French culture, like architecture. The higher class society back then really wanted to be French. That made the French influence in culture and gastronomy strong. Because of all the travel facilities that we have in Yucatán, Peninsula, in the 1800s, it was easier for Yucatecan people to go to Europe than to Mexico City or America. That’s why one of your most popular traditional dishes in Yucatán is Edam cheese from the Netherlands, but served with a Spanish filling and nixtamalize corn sauce. 

Alberto Nacif: And you will see this mix of cultures resulting in people being very welcoming!

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