From the mountains to the sea: the journey of Dancing Chef Haley

dancing chef HaleyI have always thought of life as an adventure, so when I decided I wanted to do something outside of what most 19 year old college students do, everyone that knows me was not surprised. This summer I decided I wanted to do something different, so I moved to the island of Cozumel Mexico and become a Dancing Chef for the famous Salsa and Salsa tour (aka best summer job ever).

I was born in the mountainous state of Colorado. I get my adventurous side from my family, because when I was in 2nd grade, seeking adventure, my family decided to move to the sunny island of Cozumel, Mexico. I attended a bilingual school, so I am fluent in both English and Spanish. I lived in various parts of Mexico for 10 years including Cancun & Mazatlán. Growing up in a different culture gave me an exclusive view on life and I am always eager to meet people from all over the world and hear their unique stories. I recently moved back to the United States for college. I am currently double majoring in Restaurant, Food, Beverage Management and International Hotel & Tourism Management.

dancing chef haley with guestWhen I joined the Salsa & Salsa team this summer in Cozumel as a dancing chef, I didn’t know what to expect. I had done my research on the show and the company before moving down to the island for 3 months, and from what I could tell, everyone who had ever attended the Salsa & Salsa show had loved it so I was excited. This job was not only a fun summer job where I could live the island life in paradise, but also a learning experience. Customer service is a huge part of the hospitality industry and working for Salsa and Salsa, I got the hands on experience that cannot be taught at school.

My first day meeting my fellow coworkers, I realized I was walking into a family. From day one, they made me feel like I belonged. How many people can say that after their first day in a new job, in a different country and speaking a foreign language?! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I realized working as a dancing chef that you need to treat every day as a new experience because you never know who will walk through your door.

Working for Salsa & Salsa this summer not only taught me the important things in the hospitality industry, such as: working on my personal skills with clients, learning how to do inventory, helping out in the kitchen and seeing what it actually takes to run Salsa& Salsa on a business standpoint, but also fun things like:

  1. I can’t Salsa dance to save my life, but I will have a blast trying and making up new moves of my own with my awesome dance partners.
  2. People can get very creative and involve a lot of “Styling”, as us dancing chefs like to call it when it comes to salsa dancing
  3. You truly can change anyone’s day with a smile (and maybe a couple margaritas 😉 )
  4. Tomatillos are actually from the goose berry family
  5. I will never go back to the old red roma tomato, white onion guacamole ever again

dancing chef haley with group photoThis summer has definitely been an amazing experience not only as being a stepping stone in my career and future, but learning a lot about myself as well. You never know what might happen, and even though you might be given the same show day in and day out, every day and every person walking through our gate is different, and I love the diversity. “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

Con mucho mucho amor,

Dancing Chef at heart, Haley Saul.

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The Dancing Chefs show off their tools!

dancing chef amandaMexico’s most patriotic month of the year has started.  So it’s time to dust off your big ‘Sombrero’, take out the tequila and get ready Mexico’s Independence Day on September 15th.  But before you start gulping down those shots of tequila, you should have at least a solid base of home-made Mexican food in your stomach. You know…. Just in case!

When you walk into a kitchen in Mexico, you will find several cooking tools that might look unfamiliar to you. However to make the best Mexican food, you need the best tools. To help you figure out what to use, here’s an easy guide from the Dancing Chefs:

molcajete

 

Molcajete:

We’re going to start off easy. If you have been at Salsa and Salsa, you have hands-on experience with the Mexican mortar. It’s made from lava stone or clay and it is used to grind spices and ingredients to make Salsa!

comal-tortillas

 

Comal:

You might have seen this utensil in hole-in-the-wall restaurants. It’s a round baking sheet or griddle, made of stoneware or iron. The Comal is heated on the stove top or directly on a fire to bake or reheat tortillas. It’s quite an art to bake tortillas and not burn your fingers when you have to turn them over! If you can’t find a Comal, you can use a dry skillet instead.

cazuela

 

Cazuela:

This traditional earthenware casserole only has been glazed on the inside. The Cazuela is perfect to make Moles and stews, because it heats evenly and stay warm for a long time. When you buy a new Cazuela you have to make it ready for use. To do this, rub the inside with a fresh clove of garlic, fill the cazuela with cold water and leave to boil dry. Repeat this process several times and then rinse with some water and soap.

molinillo

 

Molinillo:

The name of this tool literally means ‘hand mill’. It is a wooden, carved whisk to make hot chocolate. Mexican chocolate is a mixture of ground cocoa, sugar and cinnamon, pressed together into chocolate bars. The loose wooden rings at the top make sure that the hot chocolate become nice and foamy. To use the Molinillo you have to hold it between two hands and twist back and forth to make the whisk movement.

metate y mano

 

 

 

Metate y Mano:

This ancient tool is made of lava stone and has a wide rolling pin, with which you grind corn, chilies, cocoa beans and other ingredients. Indigenous chefs kneel on the ground,

true to tradition and roll the round Mano over the Metate. The ground ingredients are collected on the lower end of the Metate.

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