CAN THO, Vietnam — Azerai Can Tho has appointed a new executive chef, Ricardo Luján, as the resort continues to elevate its seasonal and healthy cuisine offerings in the Mekong Delta, one of Vietnam’s most exciting culinary destinations.
Chef Ricardo, a Mexico native, brings a global perspective to the kitchen at Azerai, having worked around the world with extended stints in Bali, Yangon and Mexico City prior to arriving in southern Vietnam last year. He has received formal training in classic European cuisine, including French, Italian and Mediterranean, and credits his experience working alongside Japanese chef Fujimura San for awakening his curiosity in Asian cuisines.
“I have a genuine passion for home-style cooking from any latitude, including the way people eat during their childhood and at family gatherings. Food offers a unique opportunity to create special memories around flavors, love and life,” says Chef Ricardo.
The chef will seek to further Azerai Can Tho’s development of special wellness dishes, along with regularly updated seasonal menus to spotlight the distinctive ingredients, including abundant fruits, that have helped put the Mekong Delta on the international culinary map. The new seasonal menus will be updated three to four times a year.
Since arriving in Can Tho last month, Chef Ricardo, who is also an accomplished sculptor, has spent time exploring the region’s famous wet markets, and says he has discovered some “beautiful palm hearts, a variety of mangrove oysters, fresh bamboo shoots and live Delta seafood,” along with other ingredients that he plans to use in the Azerai kitchen.
“Southern Vietnamese cuisine has a very solid reputation. I love what I’ve found in the markets so far, and I’m sure the monsoon will keep bringing even more fresh ingredients. I definitely look forward to much joy in developing the menus at Azerai Can Tho. There are a lot of exciting flavors and aromas to incorporate in our dishes,” Chef Ricardo says.
Azerai Can Tho, located on a private islet that is accessible only by the resort’s private boat, is home to two formal dining venues. The Cafe serves traditional Vietnamese and Western-style breakfasts; regional Vietnamese cuisine, sandwiches and salads for lunch; and tapas-style dinner with new and old world wines. The Grill offers imported meats and local seafood in a relaxed and informal setting.
Earlier this year the resort rolled out exclusive six-day and four-day yoga packages that spotlight the special healthy menus.
The resort remains open for business and continues to welcome guests who want to experience the vibrant Mekong Delta region and discover Chef Ricardo’s unique culinary creations.
Azerai is a new story and brand of hotels offering guests simple elegance, refined design, and discreet and attentive service in places of unique beauty and cultural interest. Azerai is uniquely envisioned for today’s experienced urbane individuals, couples and families, and the portfolio includes three luxury properties in Vietnam: Azerai La Residence, Hue; Azerai Can Tho; and, from 2020, Azerai Ke Ga Bay. The brand was formed by Adrian Zecha, and the name is derived from Zecha’s initials and the latter part of a Persian word, caravanserai, which references the storied old inns of the Middle East.