Open since 2010, Hartwood is the manifestation of a dream shared by Eric Werner and his wife while they were on vacation in the sleepy beach town of Tulum, México. Werner originally embraced the primal, wood-fired cooking method in his formative years cooking over a campfire and then furthered that knowledge at a school for disenfranchised youth in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. His expertise in cooking with this medium compounded when he worked at Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn and Peasant in NYC, and it wasn’t long before Werner took to the jungles of México’s Yucatán province and started living the dream.
Hartwood is a remote, open-air restaurant built with wood harvested by the local Mayans working under a full moon (a custom that symbolizes good luck). It sits tucked away with the ‘official’ directions citing that it “is located on the jungle side of Tulum Beach Road at the 7.6km mark”. The foundation of the cuisine at Hartwoodis described as ‘true hand cooking’. There are no machines or devices and Werner seeks guidance from the local Mayan community in terms of better understanding the land and sea and cooking its harvest. Werner cites his close ties to the local community in enabling his realization of the true meaning of sustainability. Seasonality is paramount to menu composition and new dishes are composed each day given the availability of quality-sourced ingredients. Hartwood uses only solar energy, cooking methods are carried out solely by open fire, and there is an overwhelming dedication to give back as much as they take away from the local environment.