Ernesto Delgado has a passion for Mexican culture that is visible in everything he does at Mayahuel, a tequila museum, featuring a restaurant, bar, and lounge. At Mayahuel, you don’t just drink tequila… you experience it! There is a story behind every element of the restaurant that contributes to the uniqueness of Mayahuel.
How did you get started in the restaurant business?
I grew up in restaurants in the Napa Valley and I went to school to be a designer. I think the combination of those two things is really what inspired me to create Mayahuel.
What is Mayahuel?
Mayahuel is a place to really experience Mexico. I wanted to exhibit Mexico and all that it has to offer. I wanted to bring the culture to life by displaying the rich and beautiful history. The best way I thought of doing so was to create a museum concept.
Mayahuel was the Aztec goddess of tequila. When you walk through Mayahuel, you see all of the artifacts are somehow related to the creation or the history of tequila. We even cook with tequila. That’s what makes Mayahuel unique and different.
Why did you plant roots in Sacramento?
I grew up in Napa around the wine region. Then, I decided to go to school at Sac State and I began working. I had intentions of leaving after school, but there is just something about Sacramento that just draws you in and keeps you here – I love it. Sacramento is my hometown. I’ve been here for 25 years.
The restaurant business can be volatile, how do you stay motivated?
There is no denying that the restaurant business can be hard, but you have to maintain a mindset that failure is not an option. You are going to succeed. That’s how I move forward. Failure is not an option for me. I do what it takes to move forward and I think that dreaming is the only way to get there. That is how it starts. You can have all the money in the world, but if there’s no passion and drive behind your dream, it’s not going to move forward. It starts with someone that has an idea or dream. Once it gets going the passion is what drives things.
What is the secret ingredient to success for Mayahuel?
A lot of passion, soul and culture. When you mix that together with Mexico’s rich history you have an amazing end result that is Mayahuel. We have a mural in the restaurant that says it all. This woman is holding a dish of Chiles Enhogada. It’s a staple to the history of Mexican cuisine. The legend is there were three nuns trying to present Mexico on a dish and they didn’t know what to present. So, they gathered everything of what they had. They created this chile relleno that happens to be red, white and green – the colors of the flag. Essentially the dish is a chile relleno stuffed with picadillo (for the green), topped with a white walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.
At Mayahuel, I’m just representing what is already there in Mexican culture. We are saying, here is all our history, all our culture, here’s everything about me in one dish. Tell me what you think. That’s hard to do. But, I feel that the menu and the food here at Mayahuel is very successful because of those ingredients.