Meet Executive Chef Mario Cota

Mario Gerardo Cota is the Executive Chef at V&V Supremo Foods, Inc. He lives in the Pilsen Neighborhood of Chicago with his family, where V&V Supremo is headquartered. While obtaining a BA in Biological Science and working in the field of dentistry with the intention of pursuing a career in the medical field, Mario’s travels sparked his first interest in food. This new-found curiosity inspired Mario to attend culinary school and participate in an internship in Sorrento, Italy.

After completing his culinary training, Mario started…

Mario Gerardo Cota is the Executive Chef at V&V Supremo Foods, Inc. He lives in the Pilsen Neighborhood of Chicago with his family, where V&V Supremo is headquartered. While obtaining a BA in Biological Science and working in the field of dentistry with the intention of pursuing a career in the medical field, Mario’s travels sparked his first interest in food. This new-found curiosity inspired Mario to attend culinary school and participate in an internship in Sorrento, Italy.

After completing his culinary training, Mario started a restaurant venture in the Mexican enclave of Pilsen. Within a year, he acquired full ownership and established relations with Mexican agencies, such as ProMexico, which enabled him to become fully immersed in regional Mexican cuisine. For five years, he continued to hone his skills with a hands-on approach, and oversaw every aspect of the business. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2012 the restaurant suffered severely from an electrical fire and Mario decided to pursue other endeavors. Soon after he became a chef instructor at Common Threads, a national non-profit organization whose focus is to promote diversity and healthy eating through cooking and nutrition programs in low-income urban communities.

On April, 2015 Mario began working for V&V Supremo, a 50-year old family owned manufacturer of authentic Mexican cheeses. He oversees the executive kitchen at V&V Supremo, where he and his team focus on latest trend recipe development, highlighting the attributes and versatility across not just Mexican cuisine, but global cuisine as well.

In addition, Chef Mario provides on-going training both internally and externally on the full V&V Supremo product line. He is actively involved in presenting to customers and helping with menu ideation and conducts food demonstrations at key food shows around the country.

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Meet Corporate Chef Kevin Karales

Kevin Karales is a Chicago native raised in the historic “Back of the Yards” neighborhood.  He attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory, received a B.A. Degree in Sociology from Roosevelt University, and completed various graduate courses at the University of Illinois. He had an early career in Criminal Justice research that took place at the American Bar Foundation, where his findings on police shootings and response to domestic violence issues were published in several reports.

After graduating from the “old” Washburne chef training school, (when it was…

Kevin Karales is a Chicago native raised in the historic “Back of the Yards” neighborhood.  He attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory, received a B.A. Degree in Sociology from Roosevelt University, and completed various graduate courses at the University of Illinois. He had an early career in Criminal Justice research that took place at the American Bar Foundation, where his findings on police shootings and response to domestic violence issues were published in several reports.

After graduating from the “old” Washburne chef training school, (when it was the most established chef program in the Midwest) he worked with a number of catering firms, and with well-known Chicago chef Michael Beck, preparing classic European cuisine.  
 
In 1987, Chef Kevin helped celebrity chef Rick Bayless open the multi-award winning regional Mexican restaurant Frontera Grill, and presided there (and at the 4-star sister restaurant “Topolobampo”) as Managing Chef until 1999.  During this time, Kevin was responsible for all aspects of the kitchen, including the organization of special events, menu items (developed through extensive research in various regions of Mexico), and working closely with local farmers.  Numerous awards and top ratings were achieved during this period.  After working with Mr. Bayless, Kevin consulted for various Mexican restaurants, including the Hacienda chain in Indiana, Presidio in San Antonio, and Chicago Restaurants Chilpancingo and Ixcapulzalco. More recently, he opened Savor-a contemporary Cajun bistro, and the highly rated Platiyo-a regional Mexican restaurant associated with the Francesca Restaurant group.

Currently, Kevin is the Corporate Chef for V&V Supremo Foods, Inc., the nation’s premier Mexican cheese producer, where he develops recipes focusing on the entire product line, along with presentations for employee orientations, broker training, industry food shows and sales meetings. He also provides copy for marketing, supports production and graphics departments, and is available for menu development, and consulting.

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