Cocinas y Calaveras co-owner, Jesse Gomez, has quite literally grown up in the restaurant business. His experience began in the restaurant opened by his grandparents, Gustavo and Irene Montes in 1964—El Arco Iris in Highland Park. He later spent several years managing and operating some of LA's well-known restaurants for Hillstone Restaurant Group and Innovative Dining Group.
In 2006, Gomez redesigned and reintroduced El Arco Iris, fusing an updating dining area with the signature classic dishes passed down for generations. The restaurant became a neighborhood staple and destination for home-style Mexican food. He, along with his mom, Angie Montes, made the difficult decision to sell the restaurant earlier this year. They closed its doors on April 24, 2017 and are so grateful for their many longtime, loyal patrons. (read more on KCET)
In 2009, Gomez introduced Yxta Cocina Mexicana, in the emerging Industrial District of Downtown Los Angeles and quickly earned acclaim for its inventive menu, artisan cocktails, design and impressive art collection. “The food at Yxta is contemplative, with each dish turned out with an eye toward presentation.” Los Angeles Times (April 28, 2011)
The Mercado brand, which Gomez co-created with long-time friend and revered chef, Jose Acevedo, was introduced in 2012 with its first location in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, and was chosen as one of LA Magazine's Top 10 Best New Restaurants. Mercado has since introduced two more outposts in Los Angeles and Hollywood.
Gomez and Executive Chef/Partner Jose Acevedo reimagined classic mariscos with the creation of Maradentro in 2015. The seafood-inspired restaurant opened its first location in Studio City, showcasing a colorful seascape design created by LA-based designer and architect Ana Henton. Expanding to the west side, Maradentro opened a second location in Brentwood in March 2016.
Jesse is a 1998 graduate of Princeton University, where he majored in Psychology. In his off-time, he enjoys dining out and riding motorcycles. You can follow him on instagram @jesseangelgomez.
Cocinas y Calaveras co-owner and Executive Chef, Jose Acevedo, began his extensive career training in the kitchens of Wolfgang Puck and the Hillstone Restaurant Group, before taking the helm at Irvine’s Taleo Grill in 2004. Hailing from Guanajuato, Mexico, Chef Jose’s early years were spent learning and perfecting the art of his native culture’s cuisine, which over the years, he has transformed into culinary creations that are as much artisan and contemporary as they are a classic homage to his roots.
In 2010, Chef Acevedo began working with longtime friend, Jesse Gomez, at Yxta Cocina Mexicana, where he oversaw the creation of signature dishes and specials that would become the inspiration for Mercado’s menu, a concept he and Gomez created together.
The OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano named Chef Acevedo’s signature dessert the “Best Flan in the Universe” in 2007, echoing the starry praise of Yelpers who have called his carnitas “the single best [they’ve tasted at a] commercial restaurant” and “as good as the best homemade [they’ve ever had].” Westways revered Chef Jose’s work, noting that “Taleo Grill might just be the best upscale Mexican restaurant in the region.”
In 2016, LA Weekly noted that Chef Acevedo is “changing Mexican Seafood” with the introduction of the group's third concept Maradentro.
With a culinary style that is grounded in the finest Mexican tradition, fused with current sensibility, Chef Acevedo’s signature creations apply uniquely flavorful techniques to create incredibly inventive dishes time and time again.
In his off-time, he enjoys dining out and spending time with his beautiful children. You can follow him on instagram @chefelmexicano.