The Mercado La Paloma is a charming and vibrant space filled with restaurants and non-profit organizations. Chichen Itza is a Yucatan restaurant at the center of the Mercado, not only for where it is situated in the market, but for its eleven successful years in business. Chef Gilberto Cetina and his son, Gilberto Cetina Jr., have been at the Mercado since day one. Their story warms the heart, and their food satisfies the belly.
Both men previously had careers outside of the culinary arts (Cetina a civil engineer, Cetina Jr. a computer technician) before making their living at Chichen Itza. Nevertheless, food was always a part of the family. Cetina’s mother had a restaurant in Yucatan, Mexico, and special occasions were always celebrated by cooking large meals. It wasn’t until spaces became available to vendors at Mercado La Paloma that Cetina decided to pursue his dream of owning a restaurant, just like his mother. Just after the grand opening eleven years ago, Cetina Jr. gave up his job to join the staff. Cetina and Cetina Jr. share a passion for cooking and working in the restaurant industry.
Through authentic Yucatan cuisine and incredibly engaging personalities, the father and son team have created a community for Yucatecan people living in Los Angeles. Family and friends gather every seven days for Sunday supper, and Cetina and his son are at the heart of this weekly occasion. They have incorporated family values into their business, and the community that they have created proves it.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUy5VQ991Mk]
Working with the Mercado La Paloma on this project has led to a large amount of possible opportunities for the future. Despite all of the great services that the Mercado offers, publicity and marketing seems to be a weakness. (Their website has not been updated since 2007!) The way the vendors and business owners welcomed two Annenberg students and video cameras with open arms makes it clear that they are eager for the attention. Their products are good, and it is time that more people know it. We decided to take our project one step further by thinking of ways to highlight the most intriguing aspects of the Mercado. We hope that our relationship with the Mercado continues so we can work on a new website that is updated with videos (such as the ones we did for this project) and profiles of the people at the Mercado.
This second video is an example of the type of video we would produce for the Mercado. It is a nice supplement to the video about Chichen Itza because it is about creating a community at the Mercado through art, as opposed to food.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EREBilw3jx0]
Here is a map of the Mercado La Paloma and the surrounding neighborhood. One can see the market’s close proximity to USC and downtown Los Angeles.
Click here for a 360 degree tour of the Mercado La Paloma!