July 28, 2023

2023 Main Course Chefs: Highlighting Chef Dionicio Jimenez of Cantina La Martina

As the countdown to MANNA’s 2023 Main Course event continues, we’re highlighting some of the incredible chef’s who will be preparing appetizers, dinner and dessert for the evening on Thursday, September 21st.

This week, MANNA’s Events team traveled to the Kensington neighborhood to visit Chef Dionicio Jimenez, Owner and Executive Chef of Cantina La Martina and 2023 James Beard Award Nominee

Sitting brightly on the corner of D Street and Kensington Avenue beneath the Market-Frankford Somerset Station, Cantina La Martina was opened by Chef Dio in late February of 2022. He first began working in restaurants at the age of 14 in his hometown of San Mateo Ozolco, Calpan Puebla, Mexico. After emigrating to the United States in 1998, Chef Dionicio eventually settled in Philadelphia where he worked his way up in the restaurant industry from dishwasher, line cook, prep cook, chef, and then finally, to Executive Chef. 

With more than 30-years of culinary experience, Chef Dio shares his Mexican heritage and culture with the Philly community through the meals he creates – fusing together new flavors and cuisines and keeping his family traditions alive with every dish. We experienced just that when we sat down for dinner at Cantina La Martina to sample Chef Dio’s creations ahead of MANNA’s 2023 Main Course Event. 

We started the evening with a passion fruit margarita and mango agua fresca (both of which were incredibly refreshing) followed by The Guacamole Trio, The Salsa Trio, and the Peruvian Ceviche Mixto for appetizers. The guac trio includes three separate guacamoles prepared with Crabmeat, Goat cheese & pistachio, and Habanero mango with grasshoppers! It’s the perfect appetizer choice for larger dinner groups or for people who want to try it all. The ceviche mixto includes white fish, tuna, crabmeat, octopus, choclo, sweet potato and Peruvian aji amarillo.

For the main course, we opted for Chef Dio’s famous Pastor Negro Tacos (black marinade pork, onion, cilantro salsa verde), and the Trufa ravioli  (Black truffle, huitlacoche, cotija cheese, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and creamy truffle sauce) – a true blend of culinary fusion! On the side, we delighted in an order of Esquites (Corn, queso fresco, mayo and tajin), and Platanos Oazaueños (Roasted plantain, mole negro, queso and crema) which perfectly complimented the flavors of the main dishes.

And of course, what’s a dinner without dessert? We ended the evening with the most delectable order of freshly fried churros, tossed in cinnamon sugar and dipped in a rich, rum chocolate ganache with raspberry coolie!

If you’d like to try some of Chef Dionicio Jimenez’s incredible dishes for yourself, stop by Cantina La Martina Monday through Sunday during their posted restaurant hours, OR purchase a ticket for MANNA’s 2023 Main Course event where you can sample unique dishes prepared by Chef Dio and 15 of Philadelphia’s finest chefs and culinary talent. We hope to see you there!