Her cuisine is inspired by her love of Mexico
by Pat Tyson
As owner of a catering company known as Cristina’s Feasts, Cristina Artigas feels blessed to be doing what she loves – which is running a Catering, Event Planning and Culinary Consulting Business on both sides of the Border. In addition, she occasionally branches out by organizing Destination Weddings and Events.
“Through my work I get to share special moments and celebrations with my clients,” she explains, “and that feeling is priceless to me.” She is also delighted with the fact that she is able to introduce her clients to dishes inspired by her love of Mexico. Born in San Diego, California, she lived in nearby Tecate, B.C., with her parents and four siblings, until they moved to Mexico City.
“My father was the Brewmaster of Tecate Beer until he was transferred to Cerveceria Modelo, where he was responsible for Corona, Negra Modelo and other world-recognized beers,” she relates. Whilst working in the big city, her German-born father opened Salchichoneria Polanco, a delicatessen, which is where Cristina’s culinary training began.
“We also had an organic farm on the outskirts of Mexico City where he grew his own produce and, being born in Germany, he was expert at making real sausage and other European fare,” Cristina says. He also experimented with making cheese and wine and, throughout all his endeavors, she was his assistant, so her love of food developed early in her life. He would hand her a German cookbook and ask her to make a particular cake. Fortunately, she learned German when she attended a German-American school and her successful “test cakes” were sold at the store. Unaware of their success, she simply followed orders in order to please her father – her hero.
However, her Mexican mother, who came from Veracruz, was also an entrepreneur. Besides raising five children and helping her husband, she opened her own business around the corner from his store. Flowers played an important role in her food presentations and her fresh roasted chicken became a huge success; the business took off immediately. So, in essence, Cristina was influenced by two powerful, inspired people; the result being that, when she moved back to San Diego years later, she decided to start her own catering business – of which she is justly proud.
“I have a niche business,” she says. “Thankfully, I have many repeat clients, on both sides of the Border, who trust me with the important occasions in their lives. I work hard to keep them happy and always bring something new and different into their celebrations.” Having close friends south of the Border, she has been called upon to cater many events in Baja, which she says is one of her favorite places in the world to spend a weekend. Although she has been living in San Diego for the past decade, she still feels that Baja is amazingly rich with color, flavor and tradition.
“We recently took one of my daughters on a day trip to Valle de Guadalupe for her birthday,” she relates. “We stopped for breakfast at the legendary Rosarito Beach Hotel then, later, we visited the Valle’s wineries and restaurants.” It was a delightful experience for everyone she said. She is proud of her Mexican heritage because of the warmth and heart of her people. Besides her own business and personal ties, her husband is also professionally involved there.
As an Advisor to the Mexican Association for Retirement Communities (AMAR Mexico/AMAR Canada), he is currently promoting American retirement communities into Mexico. He knows many American seniors who love Mexico so much that they went from being tourists to Baja residents! Cristina does, however, have other favorite spots she likes to visit.
“I enjoy spending time in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Tepoztlan, San Miguel Allende, and Merida”, she says. And, when It comes to food, she lists among her favorites such dishes as Cuitlacoche Lasagne, Zucchini Blossom Crepes, Fish a la Talla, Roast Beef Tenderloin with Chimichurri and Ceviche. In fact, she is currently in the process of assembling a book that is aimed at inspiring the “inner chef” in all of us, where she will share some of her recipes and events.
“What I love about my job is having the opportunity to bring to fruition my vision for food and presentation,” she states with utmost enthusiasm. “I get to share my passion for food!” She finds the most exciting thing about traveling is the opportunity to learn more about fusions and to obtain ingredients from all over the world. Her philosophy regarding her profession is simple, Cristina says.
“I arrange an occasion that respects the tradition being celebrated and create a venue where one’s senses are assaulted with the beauty of the setting, the flowers and, finally, the presentation of the various courses.”