Chef Cetina has brought to Los Angeles the rich legacy of his homeland's multifacetic cuisine. Rooted in Mayan and Spanish traditions, and influenced by the Lebanese, French and Dutch culinary cultures, Yucatecan food is one of the most exotic of Mexico gastronomic offerings. Cetina firmly anchored it to the city with his Chichén Itzá Restaurant, a staple of today's savy Angelinos, who sway to the always fulfilled promise of authentic Mexican cooking, delivered with consistent quality and unwavering enthusiasm.
Cetina’s success and popularity is testimony to the reticence and ever lasting value of cultural authenticity and tradition in food. A dip into his Chikil Pak, directly links the present day Angeleno to the distant past of Mayan culture, delighting with the same flavors and nourishment from the roasted pumpkin and tomato based delicacy Mayans enjoyed mileania ago. A parade of deceivingly simple delicacies; Panuchos, Salbutes, Codzitos, Papadzules and Kibis, to hearty meals; Pollo Asado, Tikin Chic, Poc Chuc, or Cochinita Pibil; to savory desserts like Caballeros Pobres, Papaya en Almibar or Flan Custard, are a good sampling of the rich culinary legacy and tradition he seeks to preserve and promote.
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 was finally 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 because the talk of the town among customers, foodies, food critics and other restauranteurs.
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 español, Hispanic Magazine, L.A. Weekly, La Opinion, City Beat, as well as on television and radio.
Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer from L.A. Weekly, currently of L.A. Times, wrote of the restaurant, "Chichen Itza, named for the vast temple (Mayan) complex near Merida, is indisputable the real thing."
Chef Cetina has been a spokesperson for Splenda and National Prok Board, 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.
He is a frequent guest of spanish-language television shows, appearing in both local and national broadcasts for Univision, Telemundo, and Mundo Fox. NBC, KTLA, KTTV-FOX, KCET and MTV, are some of the stations that have recorded segments highlighting the cuisine of Chef Cetina.
He's published a cookbook on Yucatecan cuisine: Sabores Yucatecos, A Culinary Tour of the Yucatan, in both english and spanish editions. He is currently producing a cookbook of traditional Mexican cuisine for diabetics.