Executive Chef Junior Merino, one of the founding fathers of neuveu mixology and the founder of the fusion of the kitchen and the bar, has revolutionized the mixology industry with his innovative concepts and unique philosophy, has now become the Executive Chef of M Cantina.
Between his commercial ventures, his partnerships with global corporations, top spirit brands and restaurants around the world, his public appearances and teachings; and his unsolicited press, Chef Merino's name- The Liquid Chef, was the premier mixology company on the globe.
It was no surprise Master Mixologist & Chef Junior Merino- The Liquid Chef had built his career on fusing exotic, unexpected flavors: He grew up in a culinary melting-pot of cultures and traditions. Beginning when Chef Merino was just 10, his food-loving parents taught him to cook with local produce ranging from indigenous cocoa beans, to pomegranates native to the Middle East, to cilantro, which has Mediterranean roots. Despite all these foods' varied origins, Chef Merino saw that in combination, they created harmony-planting in him an early passion for culinary mestizaje- or blending diverse flavors. It's a technique that's helped Chef Merino rise quickly in his field along with his intense work ethic.
At a young age of 15, Chef Junior rapidly progressed from baker, line cook, busboy to bartender, and eventually to beverage manager at Roth's Westside Steakhouse in New York-all while attending school
and studying English and computer graphics design. At Roth's, the wine list Chef Merino put together-his first ever-won an award of excellence from Wine Spectator. Within months, Chef Merino was initiated into the Court of Master Sommeliers' Guild of Sommeliers. Experiments with creating his own cocktails while at Roth's spurred Chef Merino to enter the International Bar Show's best cocktail competition in 2005-where he won first prize for his drink, "Coming Up Roses", which is now one of Chef Merino's signature cocktails, currently celebrating 10 years in the making.
Chef Merino’s “Liquid Chef” services have been known by the public since 2002. He started his company with a focus on cocktail consulting, events, and high end catering but has become a global empire in the mixology industry and is a rising star in the culinary world.
Chef Merino has successfully implemented cocktail programs and partnerships in multiple venues, including theme parks (Epcot Center), cruise ships (The Molecular Bar by Chef Merino Chef Merino onboard Celebrity Cruises Solstice Class) and airlines (Mexicana Airlines). He has partnered with Symrise, the 3rd largest flavoring company in the world and has recently joined forces with NTC Marketing, the owners of Libby’s, USA. He has created signature cocktails for leading restaurants and bars across the world, such as the Modern (NYC), the Ritz Carlton (42 Restaurant in White Plains, NY), the ANA Hotel (Tokyo), Tequila's (Philadelphia), Malverde & La Condesa (Austin), Talavera (Miami) & New York's Rayuela, Macondo, Casa Mezcal, and in Mexico, Hilton los Cabos & San Angel Inn.
He has also worked with celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Peter Gabriel, Lenny Kravitz, Cindy Lauper, Michael J. Fox, and Patricia Velasquez and government officials such as President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Chef Merino has also created unique cocktails for numerous liquor companies. Due to his well-known creativity, Chef Merino has won an award from Star Chefs and a special recognition from Sabores Autenticos de Mexico & SAGARPA for his knowledge of Mexican ingredients. He was also inducted into the Bartender Magazine's Bartender Hall of Fame and has been recognized for his excellence in his field by Johnson and Wales University and Les Toques Blanche. Chef Merino was also an invited celebrity chef for Festival Gourmet in Puerto Vallarta in which he created a mind blowing 13 course meal with cocktail and wine pairing. Chef Merino was also an invited chef to cook at the illustrious James Beard House. M Cantina was listed by The Detroit Press as one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2018.
Chef Merino also founded The Liquid Lab, a unique space dedicated to research, education and development with over 4500 individual labels, 100's of spices, oils, extracts, aromas and herbs from around the world, refractometers, a rotary still, copper stills, barrels, etc. Using the concept of The Liquid Lab, Chef Merino created Alchemix, the world's most advanced mobile school of mixology in which he shared his passion, knowledge, creativity, and genius with thousands of bartenders.
Chef Merino also formed The Liquid Team, an amazing group of bartenders around the world that have been trained excessively in Chef Merino's techniques and philosophy. Recently, Chef Merino has added The Liquid Table, a unique catering experience that produces “ glamorous yet boozy bites.”
Chef Merino was recognized by the government of Mexico and was proclaimed "The Official Ambassador of Gastronomy & Tourism, & Promoter of Mexican Beverages." With this award, Chef Merino also had the honor of creating the official cocktail of Mexico called "El Angel", after the statue of The Angel of Independence in Mexico City.
Chef Merino has created his own proprietary line of products called Dainzu and Chef Merino Chef Merino Products in order to maintain a consistent program and ensure quality worldwide. His full product line includes foams, syrups, mixers, salts, sugars, tools, uniforms and everything else needed to make any program a success story.
In, 2017 M Cantina opened its doors and quickly shot up the charts as the go-to destination for high-end, beautifully presented Latino inspired Mexican street food. It has made such local lists such as Top 14 Best Halal Restaurants in Metro Detroit, Top 10 Best Mexican Restaurants in Metro Detroit, and Top 10 Healthiest Restaurant in Dearborn.
Always eager to share his extensive knowledge of spirits, wine, food, techniques and ingredients, Chef Merino has been featured in Hour Detroit, Detroit Free Press, The Detroit Metro Times, The Detroit Times Herald, Gourmet, Gourmet Journal (Tokyo), Marie Claire, Time Out, Latina, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Wine Enthusiast, Food & Wine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Women's Wear Daily, and New York Magazine, Buena Mesa (Reforma, MX), El Mural, El Diario de Mexico, among many others around the world, and has appeared on BBC Radio, Fox & Friends, Fox News Latino, Martha Stewart Radio, NBC, ABC, FOX, NHK and Televisa.