In August, the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort & Spa appointed executive chef Gustavo Calderon to helm its room-with-a-spectacular-view restaurant, 3800 Ocean. Originally from Mexico but with experience in Florida kitchens, Calderon spent the last four years working in some of The Ritz-Carlton’s best restaurants. He’s skilled at cooking on the fly, a talent on display at the Kitchen Table, an improvised five-course menu served inside 3800 Ocean’s kitchen.
Executive Chef Gustavo Calderon
PBI sat down with the seasoned gourmand to talk all things food.
PBI: You’ve worked in some of the world’s finest kitchens. What made you want to return to Florida?
Calderon: I’ve always had a love for Florida and have lived in Miami, Orlando, and Naples. As soon as I stepped foot into Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island, I had a great feeling and positive vibes all around. The ocean views also helped.
What can Florida guests expect from your style of cooking?
My vision is to take them on a culinary journey through Latin America, Asia, and the Mediterranean. Diners can expect to see fresh, local produce and plenty of seafood on my menus.
Dumpling with rock shrimp, chicken, and shiitake mushrooms.
What menu ingredients are you excited about?
Exotic ingredients like tomatillos, dried chilies, hoja santa, amaranth, passion fruit, and plantains.
Are you planning to add anything new, like a garden or hydroponics systems?
Absolutely. I’ve had great experiences with hydroponics at my previous positions and have already initiated the conversation with local farmers for vertical farm products, including micro greens [to grow] year round.
Where do you source your creativity?
From my Mexican-Colombian heritage and traveling around the world. I love to recreate and put my own spin on dishes from places I’ve visited, like baba ghanoush from Lebanon and samosas from Bahrain.
Do you have any cooking rituals?
When I’m cooking at home, you can guarantee Bob Marley is playing in the background.
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What’s your pantry staple?
Perhaps this is a different take on a staple, but common sense is the most important thing to have in the kitchen. Overthinking is our worst enemy. Less is more and simplicity is key.
When you aren’t in the kitchen, where can we find you?
I enjoy mountain biking and spending time with my family exploring Palm Beach.
What’s something you’re most proud of?
My team. These talented individuals come to work each day with a positive attitude, passion, and a sense of urgency.
What Palm Beach restaurant are you excited to try?
Buccan is at the top of my list. Chef Clay Conley is one of my favorites, and I’ve been following his cuisine since he was at Azul in Miami.
Who influenced your passion cooking?
My grandmother. I grew up in Mexico and would watch her cook. I was always running around gathering ingredients for her next creation.
What is an overrated food trend?
Kale. It’s on so many restaurant menus, but not 3800 Ocean.
Can you share tip for a kitchen newbie?
Learn the basics. Once you have mastered the primary techniques and principles of cooking, then you will have the freedom to incorporate the latest and greatest fads and trends.
What is your advice for future chefs?
Follow your passion. The road to success isn’t easy, but it will all be worth it in the end.