Jamil Selem: A Private Chef Conquers Mérida’s Kitchens

Chef Jamil Selem is a rising culinary star and entrepreneur born and raised in Mérida. Photo: Patricia Robert / Yucatán Magazine

If anyone has earned the right to be called “chef,” it’s Thculinario’s Jamil Selem, a young culinary star and entrepreneur born and raised in Mérida. 

We met Chef Jamil through a couple who employ him as a private chef. When I visited Tracey and Mark’s house, Jamil was whipping up a storm in their kitchen, slicing, dicing, and pouring ingredients into his Thermomix, which he brings with him.

While preparing a pizza from scratch, Jamil recalled his school days and how he learned about the opportunities that awaited working in a cruise ship kitchen. The sophistication of his dishes reveals the regimen and experiences of traveling to countries he might have never seen. 

He’s not one of those discreet cooks who disappear behind the kitchen island. Chef Jamil engages his clients and their guests.

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“They pay attention to my movements. I invite them to get closer and ask anything they want,” he confides. “People are very interested, and I love to share a little bit about what I know.”

He also gives cooking classes, market tours, and wine pairings. “Whatever my client needs, I can perform,” says Jamil, 30. 

As a consultant, he shares his knowledge with restaurants, as well.

“I train the bartenders, waiters, waitresses for the restaurant. Also, all the procedures from cleaning the kitchen to how to be professional with customers,” he says. Everything from proper sanitation methods to menu consulting and costing out meals. 

He has amassed a network of professionals, such as bartenders, wedding planners, florists, and even dishwashers, to be ready when a client calls. He’s aware that the client could be a foreigner. 

“Everyone has to speak English, so we’re a bilingual company, someone anyone can hire,” says Jamil, in pretty much perfect English. “And Mérida has grown so fast, so I think being prepared is important. A lot of tourists are coming, especially for the food.”

Jamil Selem’s Salmon Cazoulette with seared mushrooms with butter, sauteed baby bell peppers with onion and white wine, as well as mashed potatoes with torched Edam cheese. The grilled salmon is topped with Yucatecan black paste and epazote. Garnished with takmaria seeds. Photo: Patricia Robert / Yucatán Magazine

Recipe: Salmon Cazoulette


  • 900g / 2lb salmon
  • 50g recado negro 
  • 100ml sour orange juice
  • 50ml lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 150g small mushrooms
  • 150g baby bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion
  • white wine
  • butter

For mashed potatoes:

  • 300g baby potatoes
  • pinch of mustard seeds
  • pinch of cumin
  • 100ml / 3.4oz. sour cream
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ onion

Preheat oven to 250°C / 475°F. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes in quarters,  add olive oil, salt, mustard seeds, black pepper, and bake with onion and garlic for 45 minutes. Blend eveything with the sour cream. 

FOR SALMON: Blend all the ingredients and marinate salmon in sauce for 30 minutes. 

Preheat pan for two minutes. Melt butter with vegetable oil to cook the mushrooms and stir for one minute on high temperature. Mark all the sides and remove it from the pan once it’s done. Save.

In the same pan, add the onion, chopped garlic and baby bell pepper, stir for two minutes, add white wine to deglaze. Cook for two minutes until alcohol evaporates. Save.

Preheat a pan for two minutes on high heat and sear salmon for two minutes on the first side and one minute the other side. Present with other ingredients.

Serves a party

IG: @thculinario

Lee Steele
Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012.
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