Gilberto Cetina Sr
Chef / Owner
GILBERTO CETINA learned the secrets of cooking from his mother in a timber town in the Tizimin province of the state of Yucatan. A trained engineer, he moved with his family to the United States in 1986 where he wasfinally able to dedicate himself to the culinary arts. He worked in various restaurants and learned the ins and outs of the business.He opened Chichen Itza Restaurant in 2001, and his Yucatecan dishes soon became the talk of the town among customers, foodies, food critics and other restaurateurs. Chef Cetina and the food of Chichen Itza Restaurant have been lauded in such publications as GQ Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Travel and Leisure Magazine, People en Espanol, Hispanic Magazine, L.A. Weekly, La Opinion,City Beat and Adelante; as well as on television and radio. Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer from L.A. Weekly, wrote of the restaurant, "Chichen Itza, named for the vast [Mayan] temple complex near Merida, is indisputably the real thing”. Chef Cetina has been a spokesperson for Splenda, was featured in a national Hyundai ad campaign, teaches classes in Yucatan cuisine, and is in demand for events showcasing the best of Mexican culture and cuisine. His restaurant is invariably named as one the top Mexican restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area.
Gilberto Cetina Jr
GI LBERTO CETINA, JR., was on a different career path before the family business got under his skin. In Merida he was studying computer science before his studies were interrupted, and he returned to the United States to rejoin his family in 2000. Back in the States he worked at various restaurants, including on the catering side of some. He didn't begin working at Chichen Itza Restaurant until a week after it opened in 2001. In the beginning he worked the front of the house.
Eventually, he began to focus on the kitchen and learn the secrets of his father's (and grandmother's) cooking. It wasn't too long before he mastered them and brought innovations to the kitchen. When time permits, Gilberto enjoys experimenting and putting new twists on traditional dishes.