Star chefs turn to Mexico haute cuisine

first_imgLike other top chefs from around the world, Kostow comes to study and experiment with the purity of ingredients and flavors in real Mexican cuisine, now a top export commodity that was dismissed for decades as tortillas suffocated in heavy sauces, cheeses and sour cream.“I don’t know if you come to Mexico to learn what’s new, but rather you come to Mexico to learn what’s old,” said Kostow, referring to the ancient cooking traditions of the many indigenous groups. “There are flavors of great depth, and there are techniques that are pretty challenging.”Though the movement has been slow, Mexico in the last few years has begrudgingly earned the respect of an Italy or France as a destination for the world’s foodies, be they top chefs such as Kostow, who was crowned America’s best new chef just three years ago, or curious foreigners in sandals writing food blogs and leading mezcal-tasting tours.Mexico’s diverse terrain, from deserts and coastlines to cloud forests and jungles, has produced a vast range of flora and fauna that since pre-Hispanic times provided the ingredients for dishes that vary by ecosystem. It is the perfect model for the new global trend to cook “paleo” and eat local. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories In Mexico, that includes worms, grasshoppers and insect larvae, long considered caviar-like delicacies that are now being introduced to a wider world.“A lot of people that I know are sort of turning their eyes to Mexico as a new place where a lot of innovation is going to happen,” said Lars Williams, the research director of the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen. “It’s going to be a very strong player in the culinary world.”Star chef Alex Stupak, who runs a high-end taco joint in New York, visited a Mexico City street food stall and made a cellphone recording of cooks kneading masa dough to make huaraches, thick oval tortillas topped with cheese and steak resembling the leather sole for which they’re named.He is experimenting with pasta made from the same dough.“We are trying to get the right consistency,” Stupak said.Up-and-comer Rosio Sanchez, a Mexican-American pastry chef at Copenhagen’s Noma _ recently named the best restaurant in the world _ made her signature Gammel Dansk dessert, substituting the Danish liqueur with tequila and bathing the creamy whey in bitter cactus juice.The leaders of this movement include Mexican chef Enrique Olvera of Pujol restaurant, a pioneer in the country’s rediscovery of its authentic cuisine. He has been featured in local magazines as a young yet influential cook who has managed to modernize Mexico’s pre-Hispanic food traditions in an elegant way. His menu includes tostadas with escamoles, ant larvae, and green mole made with different types of ubiquitous Mexican herbs cultivated since Aztec times, known as quelites, that can range in taste from spinach salty to minty.Olvera has traveled the world in the past few years, including Napa Valley and Copenhagen, forming a large network of the world’s best cooks, most ranging in age from late 20s to mid-30s. His creative plates have inspired chefs such as Daniel Patterson of Coi in San Francisco, who said Olvera shows them not how to make Mexican food, but to incorporate Mexican flavors into their own creations.“Mexico is definitely a strong taste influence that we have,” Patterson said. “I like Mexican cooking, the depth but also the brightness, a lot of acidity.”It’s a hard sell in some aspects, especially to Mexico’s Taco Bell-inundated neighbor to the north.Soft tacos of crunchy grasshoppers or ants’ larvae seasoned with garlic, onion and green pepper are delightful to many Mexicans. Paxia, one of Mexico City’s many new restaurants featuring haute cuisine, includes a plate of fat, delicately seasoned worms on its menu, as does Olvera’s Pujol. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img