Chef Poc Saenz Reyes utilizes her authentic Mexican roots to celebrate culinary authenticity and fusion.
By Katherine Powell, Photos courtesy of Rosedale Kitchen and Bar
Chef Poc Saenz Reyes grew up in Mexico and quickly became inspired by the local flavors around her. She studied at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in 2017 and met her first mentor, Chef Hiroshi Kawahito, in Cancun, Mexico. Their meeting inspired her to delve deeper into the hospitality industry and different ethnic cuisines. Learning from her mentor, Saenz Reyes continued to cultivate her culinary artistry by exploring her skillset on crudo, raw fish and seafood. Finally landing in Austin due to her love of travel and cuisine, she was introduced to Austin’s food industry as a line cook at Jacoby’s.
Armed with talent and determination, she worked her way up through the kitchen to achieve the position of sous chef at their sister restaurant, Grizzelda’s. Saenz Reyes’ local experience includes time spent at The Line Hotel’s P6, The Frog & Bull and Drop Kick. Her hard work paid off in exponential ways as she became the executive chef of Rosedale Kitchen and Bar in August 2021. Rosedale Kitchen and Bar is best described as a neighborhood restaurant with a youthful crowd, vibrant attitudes and worldly inspired dishes that leave many with lasting cravings for more. Saenz Reyes has created new menus that artfully highlight her international experience and travels. She holds a devotion to localized flavors, comfort, health and contemporary dishes while staying true to her Mexican heritage.
You’re around food all day. Who’s the chef at your house?
It’s funny that I get to answer this question, because growing up both of my parents were terrible in the kitchen. Both being doctors, my mom and dad rarely had time to cook, and when they did it was usually a disaster. That means when they were cooking, or trying to, there was no oil, no seasoning and definitely no salt, because it would mean (in their minds) we would get diabetes, hypertension, etc. So, growing up we always had a maid in the house, and I was never really allowed to be in the kitchen due to my kind of overprotective parents.
When you don’t feel like cooking, what’s the food you go to?
It really depends on the time of the day: in the morning I get menudo, for dinner it’s chicken wings. (My favorite is the naked garlic parm!) Of course, after cooking all week in the restaurant, Uber Eats is my best friend.
What does the phrase “comfort food” mean to you?
It will always remind me of those rare days that my mom would actually be in the kitchen and make my favorite Sunday morning dish: ham tacos with a little bit of mayonnaise, tons of lime and a dash of tabasco—yum!
When you were younger, what foods made you feel the best?
Ceviche all day—shrimp or white fish ceviche, didn’t matter; it’s the best. This is something that I knew right away when I took over the kitchen last year at Rosedale Kitchen and Bar, that I wanted to incorporate it into my menu. It’s become one of our most popular dishes so quickly that it’s now available on all our menus: lunch, dinner and happy hour.
When did you first learn to make this dish?
I grew up with this dish, we ate it often and in many different variations. I took what I knew from my upbringing and my travels then added things that I thought, according to my taste, would be amazing.
What makes this dish special to you, or what is your fondest memory of this dish?
Christmas, as crazy as it sounds. At Christmas we would always have ceviche as a part of the menu, so it’s a dish that makes me feel home. During the holidays in Mexico, it’s tradition to have ceviche as part of your meal, and it will always remind me of my family gathering together at the table.
Is there a certain ingredient that makes your version of this dish different from other versions?
I think it’s the capers and the coconut. I love to add little surprises to dishes. These two things in my ceviche pair well with the fish and the habanero peppers. I also love to incorporate edible flowers from our front patio garden to add colorful touches in each dish, and I think between the presentation and the flavors, this is why we get the most smiles and compliments from our ceviche.
What beverage goes best with this meal? (Or what beverage do you prefer to drink with this meal?)
A nice, cold Michelada with lots of lime.
Rosedale Kitchen and Bar Rockfish Ceviche
Gluten-free and dairy-free, serves four
2 cups rockfish
2 cups salmon belly
¼ cup capers
¼ cup red onion, diced
¼ cup mandarin, segmented
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 limes, juiced
¼ cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small habanero pepper,
seeded and sliced
Salt, to taste
4 small tostadas
- In a large bowl combine rockfish, salmon belly, capers, red onion, mandarin, cilantro and salt.
- Squeeze lime juice into the bowl and gently stir until well combined.
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- While the fish is chilling begin the broth. Add coconut cream, orange juice, lemon juice and habanero pepper to blender and mix until smooth. Salt to taste.
- Remove rockfish mixture from the refrigerator. Place in the middle of a large bowl. Add broth around the rockfish in the bowl. Serve with tostadas.