Carmel Magazine

CM Winter 2016 Issue

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Abalonetti Employees Set High Standards for Dining T hough Araceli Perez grew up in Monterey, where menus promi- nently feature abalone, shrimp and calamari, she didn't always enjoy seafood. She was a teenager when her brothers star ted work- ing at Fandango in Pacific Grove, and they brought home dishes for her to sample. "I definitely didn't have the palate for seafood then, but little by little, I learned," she says. "Now I love it all." Perez further developed that appreciation at Abalonetti Bar & Grill in Monterey, where she started as a part-time hostess at age 17. She quick- ly worked her way up to lunch server, dinner server, bartender, and with- in just three years, assistant manager. A decade later, Perez has turned that part-time job into a culinary- industry career that comes with unique perks. In addition to touring Napa Valley wineries, for example, she has crossed paths with actors Josh Duhamel and Bill Murray. The lifelong Oakland Raiders fan also met for- mer head coach and sportscaster John Madden while working at an AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am event for the restaurant. "The job has opened a lot of doors for me," says Perez, who has espe- cially enjoyed learning to mix drinks and work behind the bar. A few years back, she developed a jalapeño cucumber margarita made with smoky Serrano chiles, lime juice and muddled cucumber. It's since become a secret menu item popular among regular customers. Abalonetti Managing Partner Kevin Phillips says that kind of creativity, determination and versatility make Perez a valued employee. "When I think of Araceli, the word extraordinary comes to mind. She's an extraordinary person. She's extraordinarily bright. She has an extraor- dinar y work ethic and talent for customer ser vice," he says. Co-workers know she sets high standards, he adds, while also staying open to new ideas. "We work together as a team, and we can count on each other," Perez says. "I think we all have that desire to make Abalonetti the best place it can be." Abalonetti Bar & Grill is located at 57 Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey. For more information, or to make reser vations, call 831/373-1851, or visit —Renee Brincks SHORTCUTS NEIGHBORS 72 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 6 At Abalonetti Bar & Grill, located on Fisherman's Wharf, fresh seafood like Monterey Bay Calamari is served in a myriad of delicious dishes, along with pastas, pizza and more. Assistant Manager Araceli Perez developed cocktails like a jalapeño cucumber margarita. Photo: Kelli Uldall

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