Rest in glorious light my friend Chef Maximo Tejada

I'm still processing news that culinary artist Chef Maximo Tejada passed away last night. There are people who leave you with a little light after you talk to them- and Chef Maxi was one of them. Talented. Sweet. Soulful. His culinary philosophy was steeped in the idea that our spirit is infused the food that we prepare.

As any artist knows, spirit is weaved into everything we create. Songs. Paintings. Clothes. Books. And yes, tonight's dinner. Chef Maximo was an amazing a genuine artist who was in touch with spirit in ways that were mysterious and magical.

Chef Maximo's secret ingredient was his loving and generous energy. If he was stressed, irritated or just not well, he would take a walk, meditate and go back to the kitchen when his head and heart were clear. He demanded that of everyone who walked into his kitchen too.  Chef asked them for peace in their heart -- or at minimum -- buena onda, a good vibe. And the result was spectacular!

Tasting his food at -- Rayuela and Macondo-- felt like a culinary tour through Spain and Latin America via the palate. He was formally trained at the French Culinary Institute but his real training he told me started in his grandma's kitchen. He was born with an intuitive gift -- a rare alchemist talent that translated cultures, a people's history through each plate he created. Dominican-born, New York-raised, he belonged to the world.

Chef Maximo was present on the night when as a friend described, the moon came out to shine for me. Chef Maxi helped celebrate the publication of my book in May when he transported the restaurant's kitchen to Susan Taylor's home and prepared dishes with such joy that I can still feel his warmth today. His mouth watering creations enchanted everyone who gathered at Susan and Kephra's beautiful home to welcome my book into the world. Chef Maxi, Hector Sanz, his business partner and loving friend and Catalina, the sweet event's planner of the company, prepared a small surprise cocktail in my honor: soursop martinis. Those guanabana martinis were unforgettable. As were the quail eggs, shrimp, oysters, and many more exquisite dishes.

My book party was an amazing night that I will never forget not just because of the exquisite food, or sweet company, it was the unseen energy that we all felt in our midst -- loving sweet energy and his name was Maximo.

I feel so honored that I was able to taste his art, but even more honored that I was able to meet and be gifted a little of his light.

All photos by Gary Santana
RIP Maxi. You will be missed.


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  2. Max you are the EXAMPLE of a Beautiful Humane, I just wish I had know you longer..Blessed for the time I had...RIP Max..Love U !!

  3. I too am shocked and heartbroken to have learned the news about Chef. I met him and grew to know him as a regular at his two restaurants..I had many favorites on his menues and when I saw him plotting with his cooks about new dishes or changing certain items I would run over to beg him not to take off the ones I loved .. And I always kept them on for me .. I had such a high respect for his food and artistry .. His food and presence always fed my soul .. I am so sad by this loss .. So sudden and senseless ...

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  5. Maxi was not only a good chef but what a great person to be around. We worked the kitchen line together back in the good old days of patria and pipa and it was always good to see maxi, he was a wondert person.
    God bless you maxi, it was great to know you.

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