the artist

Cristian Molina has made a name for himself as the Bar Chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Rouge Tomate thanks to his use of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, innovative preparation methods, and unique flavor combinations.

In 2009, when Molina's wife was expecting their first child, the mixologist made the decision to transition his career from the nightclub and hospitality industry to his true, more family-oriented passion-natural cooking.

Inspired by the rich flavors and smells of the markets in his native Ecuador, Molina has sought to include only the freshest and most naturally sourced ingredients in his juices and cocktails. The chef has experimented with such techniques as de-hydration and re-hydration, sous-vide cooking, steaming, curing, and pureeing to create unexpected drinks that are healthy, as well as delicious.

Over the last two years at Rouge Tomate, Molina has collaborated often with the restaurant's sommelier, Pascaline Lepeltier, who has been named one of the top sommeliers in France. The two have worked together to make their truly original bar menu a new focus at the established restaurant. In recent months, the bar at Rouge Tomate has received extensive press attention, including a spread in InStyle magazine and reviews in Time Out New York.

Molina learned from a young age to appreciate the community experience of food-the chef's father brought the flavors of their family to the street in one of the first food carts in Jackson Heights, Queens. Today, Molina's drinks are served at Rouge Tomate's outpost in a cart uptown, where their project is to make haute cuisine sustainable and available to all.

Chef portrait