Located in historic Northwood, Table 427 is the brainchild of Chef Roberto Villegas and his wife, Maria, and has been recognized as one of the best up and coming places to try in the Palm Beaches.
Recently, Palm Beach Happening was able to catch up with the Chef, and find out a bit more about him, his restaurant, his cooking style, and more!
How did you get started in the food industry?
Since I can remember helping in my mom’s catering business in Veracruz, Mexico. My mom was and still is my teacher and inspiration which is being reflected in our seasonal menus where I am honoring the smoky and juicy flavors of our beloved Mexico with traditional recipes from the regions of Oaxaca, Chihuahua, Hidalgo, Puebla, Federal District and the Yucatan peninsula.
Can you tell us a little more about your Restaurant?
Our menu is constantly changing with season and our dishes are not precious, but they are earnestly prepared and lovingly served by Chef Roberto and his wife Maria. Our cuisine is considered to be “Continental” looking forward to the flexibility and freedom of cooking whatever we want. However, the last 3 menus have an extraordinary personal approach to Chef Roberto’s Mexican gastronomy, who has taken his country’s cuisine and somehow reinvented it by recreating historic dishes and moved it forward by creating new ones. Authentic ingredients and seasonings are carefully chosen and experimented on with both traditional cooking methods and contemporary techniques. Authentic ingredients and seasonings are carefully chosen and experimented on with both traditional cooking methods and contemporary techniques.
What is your philosophy on cooking?
My favorite line describes it all: “Every time we eat, we are having a piece of tradition! My job is to re-imagined it the BEST possible… My customer’s (job) is to enjoy every single bite, joyfully!… Chef Roberto”
Of all the dishes on the current menu, which is your favorite?
Cochinita Pibil Pork Chop. is a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Península of Mayan origin. Pork shoulder marinated in citrus with achiote, anato seeds and then wrapped in banana leaves and roasted for hours just to let the meat sweat. When the order is placed, Chef infuses the 12oz pork chop with the juice of the roasted pork while grilling creating a masterpiece so juicy, tender and flavorful that your mouth water. Served over mashed potatoes, simmering in the pibil juice and topped with shredded roasted pork and salsa verde.
Are you enjoying your time in South Florida?
I love it here in Florida. It is just like my hometown of Veracruz: same temperature, fresh fish, and good people. What’s not to love! I did my time in New Jersey dealing with the snow and the cold weather and it is not fun… okay when visiting for a week or so, but that’s all.
Can you tell us a little bit about your previous experience in fine dining?
21 years in the business! Believe me, I did it all… started as a dishwasher in Atlantic City and move on to be a line cook and soon sue chef within 3yrs of practice. I worked for so many restaurants among them big ones as Wolfgang Puck and Burt Reynolds, and small family owned as Mangia and the Pelican Café. Big or small, the secret of my success is all about being courageous and facing challenges that later on became opportunities. It is about educating yourself every day, watching those with more experience and learning from them, being humble and sharing your findings with other co-workers, collaborate in the creation process, and listen… listen to your customers, your fellow cooks, your servers.
What is the funniest thing to happen to you in your cooking career?
My wedding band getting lost in our baked goods. We have to poke them all and cut open half dozen of them. We found it of course.
I know that many restaurants in South Florida now focus on using more local cuisine. What foods are you planning on highlighting this season?
Great question. This week is the Soft-Launch of our new seasonal menu “Back to Our Roots Season III” where Chef Roberto is showcasing the smoky and juicy flavors of our beloved Mexico with traditional recipes from the regions of Oaxaca, Chihuahua, Hidalgo, Puebla, Federal District and the Yucatan peninsula.
More and more chefs in the Palm Beaches have become involved in cooking contests featured on the Food Network. Do you have any interest in that?
Absolutely! We have participated in local competitions, charity events and fairs to promote the restaurant. The only challenge is the restaurant and how to keep it open if I need to be absent for a long period of time.
What new and exciting plans do you have for your restaurant?
Short term, adding a court yard with additional outdoor seating for 100 people.
Palm Beach Happening would like to thank Chef Roberto and his public relations team for helping to make this interview possible.
If you’re a local chef whose cuisine matches up to the best out there, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us and perhaps you can be the next celebrity chef!