Inside Texas BBQ Master Ronnie Killen Mexican Food Weekend – When a Great Resort Turns into a Big Food Stage

IIt’s not the Fourth of July without fireworks, “the twinkling star banner” and barbecues. And if you’re going to talk about smoked meats, Texas Barbecue Maestro Ronnie Killen is as good a source as any.

The stars lined up in this big Olly flag this 4th of July weekend for an epic foodie collaboration between pit boss and super swanky. Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal Resort, Just five minutes from the heart of Cabo San Lucas.

The barbecue was part of the hotel’s signature culinary weekend serieswhich brings four full days (this weekend in Los Cabos is pretty big) of dinner, foodie adventures and culinary shows, and tap into top chefs like Michael Mina, Kim Alter and Nancy Oaks, coming in November.

Fittingly joining the ranks of these chefs, Killen of Houston brings together the best of Texas barbecue with great Mexican food from Los Cabos Pedregal Executive Chef Gustavo Bennett in a dreamy coastal environment.

Killen is a trainee chef at Le Cordon Bleu, a multiple-time James Beard Award semi-finalist whose global profile is growing. Of course, Killen is well established for a long time The Power of Houston with Six Bayou City Restaurants – The Original Killen’s SteakhouseKillen’s BBQ, Killen’s STQand Killen’s TMX, Killen’s Burgers, and Killen’s in The Heights.

Keelen and his team of talented chefs Drop into the popular Mexican resort to get ready for a private weekend barbecue with the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal team. Visiting chefs discover local ingredients and new techniques from their Mexican partners to wow attendees from Texas, California and beyond.

Chef Ronnie Keelen and the talented chefs who made the culinary weekend happen for a photo shoot. (Photo by Studio Caribe)

While the Killen crew can be seen lounging by the pool between events, soaking up the Cabo sun making their cooking chores seem effortless, it was clear that they were working tirelessly in the background as they planned four nights in a row of hearty meals.

To highlight the wonderful selection of in-store dining experiences for the weekend, the hotel itself has a carefully curated food and beverage programme. From the assortment of poolside iced teas to the inventive sushi menu on the beach and the daily conveniences of homemade chips and guacamole brought to guestrooms each evening with a couple of Mexican beers, there seems to be new fun at every turn.

Smoke art meets Mexico

After a welcome cocktail reception with event partners Mezze HutEarth Robert Mondavi WineryThe culinary splendor continues with Ronnie Keelen’s acquisition of Don Manuels’ signature restaurant in Waldorf Astoria.

With live jazz and Pacific waves setting the dinner scene, a special menu of dishes prepared by Chef Keelen and his team was served to diners. A tribute to Killen’s unique approach to cooking with fire, the menu brings Mexican flavors to versions of its most iconic barbecue dishes.

It started with brightly flavored black abalone with banana brisket, braised corn empanadas, and smoked peria brisket tacos that beautifully combined the best of Texas and Mexico.

The next course of lobster tail with chorizo, white beans, and pickled red cabbage blends the best of seaside food with Killen’s rich, smoky style.

Chef’s Table’s Saturday Night Weekend Dinner proves Killen’s mastery of combining traditional smoky flavors and techniques in any kitchen.

Chef Ronnie Keelen’s table

With an intimate table for only nine special people in the hotel’s elegant Su Cocina – a floor-to-ceiling dining and kitchen space with the feel of authentic Mexican cuisine – Killen showed the true extent of his skills. A team of over 15 chefs and restaurateurs was on hand to make sure the meal was up to the amazing standard.

Each of the six courses came from brand-new recipes designed by Killen and his team – each sounding more indulgent than the previous one. Chefs from the Killen team provided the various courses with charming tales, as well as a special night. It soon became apparent that the meal was a true passion project, showcasing Killen’s signature recipes with innovative flavors based on the surroundings.

The meal started with a green oakshell with chocolate oysters and citrus scallops. Next came the pork belly braised in watermelon juice with roasted watermelon and mint green sauce making for an unexpectedly more delicious flavour.

The grilled smoked octopus tostada with traditional Mexican macha sauce and the taco peria made with braised duck leg and local pico de gallo plums turned out to be a very tasty fusion.

The show that stopped the fifth course was the A5 Wagyu Kagoshima, with its rich, smoky flavors making the steak course melt in your mouth.

Ronnie Keelen Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal Cookery Weekend (Photo by Studio Caribe)
One of the final courses was a hearty A5 Kagoshima wagyu steak with potato and mushroom confit (Photo by Caribbean Studio)

The final dessert course was an interesting presentation of the German Killen chocolate cake (on the menu at Killen’s new Southern Kitchen in The Heights) cooked in the shape of a traditional Mexican tamale. Corn and chocolate blend richly with this Koch Arroqueño Mezcal pairing.

Loren Oliver, one of the winemakers from the legendary Robert Mondavi Winery, showed up to offer different pairings of wines for each course, showcasing exemplary winemaking in the Napa Valley.

In true Killen fashion, the weekend turns out to be a festive 4th of July celebration centered around the chef’s barbecue. A large crowd of Killen fans savored smoked brisket (which the team had put on the smoker in the middle of the night the night before), homemade sausage, pulled pork ribs, juicy crush burgers, mac and cheese and Killen’s favorite BBQ banana pudding.

The fireworks display that followed on the beach was impressive, but the real sparks came from a real Texas barbecue festival with a Mexican twist.

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