Executive Chef Jean Charles Ruiz

Ocean Home’s Managing Editor Melissa Gillespie recently wrote about the luxury Jade wing at the Club Med Yucatan resort, which reopened last fall after an extensive renovation. A few months back, I too stayed in an oceanfront room at Jade, a stone’s throw away from the ocean and the private infinity pool, but I have to admit that after my first meal at the resort, I was pretty distracted by  the food, which absolutely blew me away.

Though there are two smaller traditional restaurants, La Pergola and Las Cazuelas, most guests take their meals in the main resort at La Hacienda. All-inclusive and buffet style aren’t known to be paragons of fresh, innovative cuisine, but classically-French-trained Executive Chef Jean Charles Ruiz runs a tight ship and offers a wide variety of Continental and Mexican cuisine with a menu that changes from one meal to the next. In particular, the Mexican salads and entrees — months later, I still remember the marinated jicama and tamales — were standouts. Sushi, French, and good ol’ American are also available at every meal.

I spoke with Ruiz during my visit, and it’s a testament to his creativity and talent that he’s been with Club Med since 1995, and at the Cancun resort since 2006. This is a rarity, since the executive chefs at Club Meds tend to move between resorts every two years.

When I asked him about his most cherished tool in the kitchen, he said, “A recipe. Sometimes, I’ll wake up with an idea I want to serve that day, and I’ll test the recipe in the morning and after that, itÂ’s ready to go. I’ll introduce it at lunch or dinner, depending on that day’s themes.”

I then pressed him about an actual favorite tool. “My 15-year-old chef knife,” he said. “No one uses my knife.” The implication being that any kitchen colleagues are playing with fire if they even think about borrowing Chef’s beloved knife.

The resort has a butcher shop, bakery, and garde manger on the premises within a 250 square-meter kitchen, which isn’t a lot of space given the sheer amount of food the kitchen presents in the course of a day.

If only they delivered…three thousand miles away.