The monthly wine dinners at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s Café Modern are eagerly anticipated by museumgoers and local epicures alike. Once per year, General Manager Adrian Burciaga invites an international guest chef to share the kitchen with the Bon Appétit team, cooking a multicourse meal to pair with the evening’s themed wines.
This year, Adrian partnered with renowned chef and Top Chef Mexico judge Aquiles Chávez, known for his larger-than-life personality and signature mustache. One of the most recognized figures in Mexican cuisine, Aquiles is passionate about sharing his understanding of Mexican gastronomy. The dinner was jointly sponsored by Aeromexico, Topo Chico, the Mexican Consulate of Dallas, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Fort Worth.
To prepare for the seven-course wine pairing dinner, Adrian and Café Modern Executive Chef Denise Shavandy traveled to Pachuca in Hidalgo, Mexico, to visit Aquiles’s restaurant Sotero, where they spent four days cooking, tasting, and planning. Adrian brought with him ideas for pairing wines from Baja California, and the three tasted through many of them to begin to plan the menu. Aquiles also cooked them a 12-course tasting dinner so they could truly understand his approach.
“We got to see firsthand his style of cooking — a lot of what he does in his restaurant aligns with our values: working with local farmers, sourcing products from the local community, cooking everything from scratch. We felt very strongly connected to his way of doing things,” said Adrian of their time in Mexico. During their visit, Aquiles taught a grilling class, which Denise felt lucky to participate in. She even got to teach a portion of it!
Over the next few months, Adrian, Denise, and Aquiles continued to hone and perfect the menu. The day before the dinner, Aquiles arrived in Forth Worth and immediately joined the Bon Appétit team in the kitchen to begin final preparations.
The sold-out dinner was a huge success. Adrian played host for the evening, while Aquiles and wine representative Christian Cox greeted guests between each course to explain the dish and wine pairing. Among the courses were aguachile beets with cucumber, red onion, and serrano chili; sopa de tortilla with rabbit; and “mole de mi mamá,” a green mole with turkey and rice. Special guests included the Consul General of Dallas Francisco de la Torre Galindo, who also spoke briefly on the development of Mexico’s culinary industry and the importance of chefs combining fine dining techniques with traditional ingredients and preparations.
Once again, the feedback from guests was overwhelmingly positive. Adrian is eager to host more such special guest-chef dinners next year — and has already received interest from chefs from France and beyond!