Culture

Here’s What These Top Mexican Chefs Have To Say About The Future Of Mexican Food In The US

Mexican food is one of most popular cuisines in the United States and for good reason. In 2017, CHD Expert estimated that there are more than 59,800 Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Mexican Menu foods are also more common in the U.S. than hamburgers or pizza. That’s why it’s no surprise that Mexican chefs are constantly re-inventing the iconic food and finding new ways to prepare timeless dishes.

Some of the top Mexican and Mexican-American chefs gathered for a panel about the future of Mexican cuisine in the U.S.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

Cacique, a leading brand of Mexican-style cheeses, curated a panel discussion with some of the world’s top Mexican and Mexican-American chefs to share their takes on what will impact the culinary world.

The panel was hosted by award-winning chef Aarón Sánchez and consisted of Chef Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza in Los Angeles, Chef Richard Ampudia of La Esquina in New York City, Chef Santiago Gomez of Cantina La Veinte and Tacology in Miami and Chef Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles. These are some of dishes and food trends they think you should look out for in the coming year.

Among the many food trends you should expect to see in 2019 are the return to local origin ingredients and handmade tortillas.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

In the world of food there are countless trends that come and go but when it comes to Mexican food what was once old is now new. When asked what we should look out for in Mexican food in 2019, Lopez said she sees the return to basics in terms of where chefs find their ingredients. She says there will be a localized understanding and appreciation of the ingredients that comes from Mexican cuisine.

“I think there will be a growing respect and appreciation for these types of ingredients that don’t necessarily come from the U.S. like chiles and pozole,” Lopez said. “Places like Oaxaca have some of the best ingredients and you can tell the difference just be a single ingredient.”

Avila uses handmade tortillas for all his food at his taco restaurant in LA. According to Avila, we should expect to see a growing appreciation for the ingredients and process used to make them.

“I think if you ask anyone that’s had a handmade tortilla they can taste the flour and the corn and there is a certain appreciation for the entire process,” Avila said. “It might take more time to make but that’s where the consumer needs to appreciate there is a lot of heart going into their dish.”

Open fire cooking will return as the top preparation style at restaurants.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

According to Avila and Lopez, open fire grilling isn’t only what’s next in Mexican cuisine it’s going to be part of a revolution in how many restaurants prepare their food. Open fire grilling is popular because of the slow cook burning taste that meats like barbacoa get when prepared over wood.

“It’s a unique taste when you bite into some barbacoa and can see the smokey flavors that went into preparing it,” Avila said.

Lopez says when she traveled to Oaxaca she saw many homes with no refrigerators or stoves just open fire cooking.

Vegan makeovers to Keto Diet-friendly versions of your favorite Mexican classics will be on menus.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

As more people switch to healthier and more plant based diets, Mexican dishes have adjusted as well. Ampudia says you may start to see full Mexican food menus catered to vegan and keto diets.

“Dishes like eggplant and squash will take the base of the meal instead of your traditional meats,” Ampudia says. “We are moving towards a new movement in Mexican food that is being influenced by mainstream dieting food trends.”

A fusion of Asian and Mexican techniques will be used when preparing and presenting dishes.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

Ampudia says that when traveling to Mexico City he has seen a growing population of Japanese chefs in the area that are creating Mexican-Asian fused dishes. He says the growing population of chefs are already influencing young Mexican chefs in the area who in return are traveling to the U.S and Europe with these new fresh ideas.

“Asian-Mexican fusion is here to stay and the dishes compliment each other so well with their flavors,” Ampudia says. “Umami and these different types of spices can be found in Mexico and in Asia which makes it easy to create these dishes.”

Los Angeles and Chicago will continue to grow as hotspots for Mexican food in the United States.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

Both LA and Chicago are home to some of the largest populations of Latinos in the country. Avila says LA is the mecca of Mexican food in the U.S. and says that that’s where the Mexican food future is. He says that because of California’s resources when it comes to ingredients which makes it easier to experiment and try out new dishes year round.

“All eyes are going to be on LA when it comes to the forefront of what’s next in Mexican food,” Avila said.

Gomez has also seen Miami grow not only as a Mexican community but a hot spot of new dishes because ingredients are becoming more available than ever before.

“Everyone down there is into the corn, frijoles and quesos which is paving the way for more dishes. It’s a difficult place because it has a lot of Latin influences but not Mexican,” Gomez says. “Were trying to show that Mexican food not only is making its mark in Miami but it has a home.”

As for things that need to change is the misconception that Mexican food is cheap street food.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to Mexican food is that it’s cheap and you shouldn’t pay as much for it compared to other dishes. All of the chefs agree that this stigma needs to change and it starts with Mexicans themselves who need to start appreciating their own food. That also applies to using the correct names when listing food items on menus instead of trying to create trendy new titles.

“I always hear people say ‘OMG I love Mexican food but when it’s too expensive I won’t pay for it’ and that needs to stop and start with us,” Lopez says. “The idea that it’s okay to pay $20 for a bowl of pasta but trip when they have to pay for a $20 bowl of mole is insane. As Mexicans and Mexican-American chefs we should be the first to give our food the respect it deserves.”


READ: These Restaurants Are Serving Up Some Of The Best Mexican Food From The West Coast To The East Coast

Share this story by tapping that share button below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Culture

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Tacovid: SaborViral / Facebook

Pandemia. Brote. Vacuna. La Peste. Although you may find these terms in a glossary about the Covid-19 outbreak, that’s not what these words actually refer to. Instead, they’re options on the menu at a Mexican taqueria called “Tacovid: Sabor Viral”, a perhaps surprisingly very successful Coronavirus-themed restaurant.

Although to many having a Covid-themed taqueria may seem morbid or disrespectful or perhaps gross – I mean who wants to order a plague taco? – the taqueria is making light of a very serious situation with humor. Something that several other businesses have done since the pandemic began.

”Tacovid: Sabor Viral” is the Mexican taqueria going viral – pun intended – for its Covid-themed menu.

Ok…virus-themed tacos don’t exactly sound appetizing. Especially, as we’re still in the midst of a very real pandemic. But one 23-year-old man in the Mexican city of León, who was forced to close down his dance studio because of Coronavirus, is counting on a Covid-themed restaurant – and so far he’s been surprised by its success.

Brandon Velázquez converted his dance academy into a taquería at the end of July, and given that Mexico and the rest of the world was – and is – in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic decided to call it Tacovid Sabor Viral.

“I had to close my dance academy during the pandemic [but] then an opportunity arose to return to the same place, however, people still did not go out for fear of getting infected.” he told the newspaper El Universal.

“I had always wanted to open a taqueria and, at the end of July, the opportunity to do so occurred. It was how I took advantage of the moment to create this business with a coronavirus theme,” he added.

Items on the menu are named after – you guessed it – the Coronavirus and don’t sound like anything you’d willfully choose to order.

The young entrepreneur detailed the name of each dish, taking full advantage of the Coronavirus theme.

“We have around 12 different dishes, among them are the ‘Tacovid’; we have ‘Forty’, ‘Quesanitizing’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and many others. The price varies depending on the dish you order,” he told El Universal.

In addition to themed dishes, the servers also fit the Coronavirus-theme.

When the pandemic hit Mexico, the government urged Mexicans to observe “su sana distancia” and the now common mascot – Susana Distancia – was born.

“In the restaurant, a waitress dressed as a nurse with the name of ‘Susana’ takes orders and works the tables, referring to the healthy distance campaign that was implemented as a precautionary measure,” he says.

To his surprise – and honestly mine as well – the taqueria has been very successful.

Brandon told El Universal that he’s been pleasantly surprised by the support he has received from customers. “I’m surprised because we have had really good sales, despite the circumstances, we have had a lot of support by the community and we’ve already expanded to have two locations.”

“Customers are funny about the theme we are using in the business, and they are delighted with the dishes we are offering. They enjoy it and have a good time,” added Brandon.

Things are looking so good for Brandon and his Covid-themed taqueria, that he’s looking to expand the food business and add new dishes to the menu. “There is always the idea of new names for other dishes that we want to include in the menu.”

Brandon also said that he’s looking to build out a business model so the restaurant could expand to other parts of the country as a franchise.

Apparently, people are really into Covid-themed foods, as this isn’t the first place that a shop as cashed in on the pandemic. Back in April, a panadería was selling out of Covid-themed baked goods so quickly, they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

Culture

This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Let’s face it: our community knows how to do street food like no other place on Earth. From the humble Mexican taco to Argentina’s choripan and Peru’s world-famous ceviche, Latin America is a street food lover’s paradise.

So it’s no surprise that Netflix launched an entire show about our comida callejera called Street Food: LatinoAmerica. The series focuses on street food staples from around Latin America and in order to find out which street food reigns supreme, Netflix launched an online campaign to declare a winner.

In an online tournament organized by Netflix to decide the best street food in Latin America, thousands of users voted for Oaxaca’s tlayuda.

If you had to pick your favorite street food, what would it be? Could you even pick just one? Well, that’s exactly what Netflix forced people to do with a new poll to determine the best street food in Latin America, and the competition was tough. But in the end, with 46.6% of the votes, the tlayuda, that giant tortilla served with a seat of beans, tasajo (beef jerky), chorizo, chapulines, and quesillo, won the Street Food Latin America championship.

The contest was part of a promotional campaign coinciding with the July 21 launch of the Netflix series Street Food: Latin America, which takes viewers on a gastronomical tour of six countries, exploring their cultures through traditional dishes.

The tlayuda went up against choripán (Buenos Aires, Argentina), acarajé (Salvador, Brazil), ajiaco (Bogotá, Colombia), ceviche (Lima, Peru), and rellenas de papa (La Paz, Bolivia). Conspicuously missing from the list were tacos, elote, quesadillas, plátanos fritos, pupusas, and so much more.

Several major figures joined in on the campaign to ensure Mexico’s win with the tlayuda.

The competition was heated and not one country was taking any chances. In fact, the Mexican government’s official Twitter weighed in on the contest, urging its citizens to vote in the poll. Also, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico took to Twitter urging his followers to vote for the tlayuda.

Mexico is known to celebrate big wins with big parties, and some nearly expected a crowd of revelers to form at Mexico City’s famed El Angel statue, where many big celebrations are held. Though thanks to social distancing, that didn’t happen this time.

Not everyone was happy with tlayuda taking the top spot – including some very angry Peruvians.

Mexico’s tlayuda beat Peru’s ceviche fair and square: with 46.6% of the vote vs. Peru’s 45.8%. It was a close race to be sure, but the tlayuda won. And it deserved it if you ask me. However, many took to social media to express their outrage at the results.

In fact, Peruvians helped get Amazon Prime to trend on Peruvian Twitter when they decried their followers to cancel their Netflix subscription and instead sign up for Amazon Prime, as a sort of revenge against the network.

For those of you not familiar, what exactly is a tlayuda?

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

Mexico’s famed tlayuda is most popular in the state of Oaxaca, where it’s said to have originated. But you can find it on the streets in any major Mexican city (as well as cities in the U.S. with large Mexican communities) as well as in upscale restaurants giving the dish a twist.

But what makes the tlayuda so special? Chef and culinary historian Rodrigo Llanes told the newspaper El País that the tlayuda is a bridge between pre-Hispanic and European culture, calling it a “magical” culinary creation.

“I do not disqualify the other candidates, but I maintain my preference for the Oaxacan entry for its historical tradition that does justice to native peoples, for its flavor that is emblematic of mestizo cooking, and for its size, which makes it a dish to share,” he said. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com