Pujol: Mexico’s Best Restaurant

Pujol: Mexico’s Best Restaurant

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Mexico has become a culinary laboratory.

In recent years, Mexico has been a culinary laboratory of sorts where chefs are embracing contemporary cuisines and techniques while remaining faithful to the country’s own culinary heritage.

One such chef who is creating a stir if Enrique Olvera of Pujol, the best restaurant in Latin America & the Caribbean according to The Daily Meal’s list of 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America & the Caribbean.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and working for the superb Alsatian-born chef Jean Joho at Everest in Chicago, Enrique Olvera opened this contemporary-style restaurant in Mexico City in 2000 with the idea of using indigenous ingredients and traditional cooking methods to produce food with French-style refinement. He succeeds admirably with such dishes as bocol huasteco, a kind of plump tortilla with cheese from Chiapas; a mixed vegetable assortment in a mole of pumpkin seeds and broccoli; an "esquite" made not with the usual corn kernels but with wheatberries, flavored with epazote cream, serrano chiles, and queso oreado; and the remarkable "mother mole," cooked for hundreds of days and containing scores of ingredients, served as a pool of sauce with translucent sesame tortillas. The restaurant's list of mezcals is eye- and palate-opening (try the farolito, made from wild agave, fermented in leather, and distilled in clay), and the collection of Mexican wines, especially reds, is one of the country's most extensive.

Chef Enrique Olvera Celebrates Simple Pleasures Of Mexican Cuisine In 'Tu Casa Mi Casa'

Enrique Olvera's flagship eatery, Pujol, has repeatedly made lists of the best restaurants in the world. "The inspiration in our restaurant is home cooking and simple cooking," he says. "We've always been very connected to that. Whenever we want to travel for inspiration, we go to small towns in Mexico and visit people's homes." Courtesy of Araceli Paz hide caption

Enrique Olvera's flagship eatery, Pujol, has repeatedly made lists of the best restaurants in the world. "The inspiration in our restaurant is home cooking and simple cooking," he says. "We've always been very connected to that. Whenever we want to travel for inspiration, we go to small towns in Mexico and visit people's homes."

As a kid, Enrique Olvera spent hours in his grandmother's bakery in Mexico City. He loved watching everyday ingredients like flour, sugar and eggs fuse into something entirely different.

For Olvera, even the simple act of baking a cake felt like magic.

Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook

by Enrique Olvera , Luis Arellano , Gonzalo Goût and Daniela Soto-Innes

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He absorbed every detail as his grandmother gently coaxed masa into handmade tortillas. On Sundays, he joined his father in the kitchen, chopping onions and tomatoes for breakfasts of scrambled eggs and dry beef.

That vantage point drives Olvera's new cookbook, Tu Casa Mi Casa: Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook. But Olvera, the chef behind Mexico City's Pujol, one of the world's top restaurants, almost turned away from a career in the kitchen.

Despite the draw of the family bakery, Olvera's father didn't want his son spending too much time there. He wanted Enrique to go to college and get a degree.

So for a while, Olvera reserved his bakery work for summer vacation. It was the art of seduction that ultimately led him from his grandma's kitchen to the world of high cuisine.

Enrique Olvera grew up spending hours in his grandmother's bakery in Mexico City. His formal culinary training is steeped in European techniques. Photo by Maureen M. Evans. Courtesy Enrique Olvera hide caption

Enrique Olvera grew up spending hours in his grandmother's bakery in Mexico City. His formal culinary training is steeped in European techniques.

Photo by Maureen M. Evans. Courtesy Enrique Olvera

The teenage Olvera fell in love, and wanted to impress the girl so much, that he learned to cook beautiful meals for her. Those meals not only landed him a wife, they also inspired him to sign up for culinary school. But with that decision, the debate between father and son bubbled up again.

"I think it was really tough for him because as he was growing up, my grandparents had a fight over whether he should go to school or take over the pastry shop," Olvera says.

Those difficult conversations may have contributed to his grandparents' marriage falling apart, Olvera says. For his father, the pain of those long-ago conversations still lingered, a generation later.

"For him, it was personal — the fact that I was going to go back into the kitchen," Olvera says.

Olvera made a compromise with his dad. He found a culinary program that offered a bachelor's degree — at the Culinary Institute of America — and left Mexico for New York.

"I think once we went to school and he saw it was not just like guys having fun, he was OK with it," Olvera says.

In New York, Olvera immersed himself in the curriculum at the top-notch culinary school. Like most training grounds for professional chefs, Olvera's lessons were steeped in the cooking of Europe. For example, he dutifully learned to speckle the rims of his dishes with little dots of sauce — drawing on the traditions of France, not Mexico.

"Mexican food doesn't respond to any of that," he says. "So if you see how we cook, we don't saute, we're burning things down, we're using the stems. The only thing that you can apply to Mexican technique is the passion for the craft. But the techniques are entirely different."

The Salt

Why Hunting Down 'Authentic Ethnic Food' Is A Loaded Proposition

At 24, Olvera returned to Mexico City — and opened Pujol. Olvera's flagship has repeatedly made lists of the best restaurants in the world — its success built on the techniques he learned as a kid in his grandma's bakery and his parents' kitchen.

"It is impossible then to separate our cooking from our family story, from the products from the region we grew up in, or the regions our ancestors hailed from," Olvera writes in Tu Casa Mi Casa. "It is impossible not to carry, wherever your path leads you, the flavors you grew up with."

With Pujol's success, Olvera went on to open four more restaurants in Mexico and two in New York. Now, he's getting ready to roll out two more — this time, in Los Angeles.

Over the years, the flourishes he learned in cooking school began to fade — decorative sauce dots and all.

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Chefs' Secret For More Flavorful Tortillas? Heirloom Corn From Mexico

"We've made peace with our own aesthetic, with the aesthetic of Mexican cuisine," he says. "Because after going to culinary school, when I would see chiles rellenos, it was like, 'I don't know if that's beautiful or not.' I was too close to it."

Now, the cover of Olvera's new cookbook features a simple photo — of chiles rellenos.

"Now I see that picture, I feel it's so beautiful. It's colorful — simple but elegant. And the plate is a little chipped. Before, that would be unacceptable. And now, it's perfect. That imperfection actually attracts me a lot more."

La Posadita

An obligatory stop for breakfast or a late night snack, Cafetería San Agustín is something of an institution in San Miguel. Popular with visitors from elsewhere in Mexico on account of its owner, former Mexican soap opera star Margarita Gralia, its similarly renowned for its churros con chocolate. With its lively coffee-house atmosphere and views of the Iglesia de San Francisco, it’s an excellent place to linger provided there isn’t a lengthy queue. A range of different chocolates are on offer, from dark and rich to sweet. If you’re in the mood for something savory, enchiladas and other Mexican favorites are also available.

Mexico City’s Pujol restaurant No. 12 in the world, best in North America

Mexico City’s Pujol is once again considered the best restaurant in Mexico, according to the 2019 ranking by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

A panel of over 1,000 culinary experts voted chef Enrique Olvera’s Pujol the 12 th -best eatery in the world, ahead of any other restaurant in Mexico or North America.

In 2018, Pujol had lost the title of top Mexican restaurant to Quintonil, another Mexico City establishment that is run by chef Jorge Vallejo. But this year, Quintonil slipped from 11 th to 24 th place in the global rankings.

The two restaurants are located blocks away from each other in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City.

Founded in the year 2000, Pujol offers “a tasting menu of refined and elegant plates built from indigenous ingredients that pay tribute to Mexico’s rich culinary history,” according to the World’s 50 Best website.

The top restaurant in the world was Mirazur in Menton, France, while the top Latin American restaurant was Central in Lima, Peru.

Another restaurant founded by chef Olvera, New York City’s Cosme, came in 23 rd place, and second place in North America. Cosme is run by Mexican chef and Olvera protégée Daniela Soto-Innes, “a breakout star of the global dining scene,” according to World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

In April she was named the world’s best female chef, the youngest chef to win that distinction. She is 28.

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Among the millions of Mexicans affected economically by the coronavirus are the country’s artisans. Dependent on tourism for their livelihood, they have been forced to look for alternative means of selling their creations. One option is online sales. With that in mind, Mexico News Daily is supporting efforts by the Feria Maestros del Arte, a non-profit organization in Chapala, Jalisco, to help artisans sell their products online by donating 10% of the revenues from annual subscriptions to the Feria.

Another element of the campaign is a series of stories called Artisan Spotlight that will highlight some of Mexico's talented artisans.

We ask for your support for the Artisans Online project by purchasing or renewing a one-year subscription for US $29.99, of which $3 will help artisans reap the benefits of e-commerce. Please click here for more information about Artisans Online.

Tony Richards, Publisher

Mexico: The Cookbook Does for Mexican Food what Julia Child Did for French Cuisine

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

In the sixties, Julia Child brought French cuisine into the American kitchen with her bestselling cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now, chef and author Margarita Carrillo Arronte is aiming to do the same for authentic Mexican cuisine.

Featuring 650 recipes from our neighbors down south, Arronte’s new tome, Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon), out October 28, is a comprehensive compendium of the country’s colorful cuisine. Culling dishes from all over the region, the book covers everything from street food and snacks (such as Grilled Adobo Pork Tacos and Chicken Tinga Tostadas) to soups (Poblano Chile Soup) to desserts—there’s even an entire chapter dedicated to eggs, disproving the notion that all the country had to offer were Huevos Rancheros.

Multiple chefs from around the world, including José Andrés of Washington DC’s Oyamel Cocina Mexicana and Enrique Olvera of Mexico City’s Pujol, also provided recipes for some of their restaurants’ signature dishes. Below, we share executive chef Jason DeBriere of Tacombi’s recipe for Chile and Corn Tacos.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6–8

Photo: Courtesy of Tacombi

8 ears fresh corn
Olive oil (optional)
6 fresh poblano chiles
1 tsp. dried epazote
2 T grapeseed oil
Scant 1 cup (8 1/4 fl. oz./235 ml) crema fresca
4 oz./120 g cotija cheese, plus extra to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh tortillas, to serve

Char the corn on a broiler (or grill) on a griddle. Remove the corn kernels from the cob and set aside.

Roast the poblano chile over an open flame. Remove the skins and seeds and slice into thin strips.

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, add the corn, chiles, and epazote and cook for 3–4 minutes. Stir in the crema fresca and cotija cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on fresh tortillas, garnished with a sprinkling of cotija cheese.

Soul food for Lunar New Year

With Lunar New Year (Feb. 16) soon upon us, you’ll want to to start of The Year of The Dog well fed.

Consider Chinese Soul Food: A Friendly Guide for Homemade Dumplings, Stir Fries, Soups, and More. It’s a totally inviting cookbook by popular and smart (award-winning food journalist) cooking instructor Hsiao-Ching Chou.

Soul-pleasing dishes include braised beef noodle soup, red-braised pork belly, dry fried green beans, garlic eggplant and potstickers. (Her potstickers so impressed Anthony Bourdain he invited her to make them on his TV show No Reservations.)

“(Lunar) New Year,” she says, “is what centres me. It’s my holiday Olympics. It’s Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all wrapped into one. I love thinking about the menu and what symbolic dishes I’ll spend days preparing and then savouring the delicious moments of watching my extended family devour the feast.”

The freshest news from the food world every day

Mexico is famous for wild snack creations involving Tostitos and nacho cheese Doritos. Mexico City has Dorilocos and now Oaxaca goes even further with Tostiesquites: an open bag of Tostitos topped with esquites (warm corn kernels cooked with herbs), mayo, aged Oaxacan cheese, lime, and chile powder. This flavor bombshell is the full package: it’s crunchy, warm, cheesy, sour, hot, and slightly sweet. A rebellious bite for the taste buds. [$]

Note: Map point is approximate. The Tostiesquites cart parks right in the corner of Macedonio Alcalá and Manuel Bravo streets.

Tostiesquites, straight outta the bag Photo by Jason Thomas Fritz

The 25 best restaurants in Mexico City

Welcome to Time Out Mexico City EAT List, a definitive list of the 25 best restaurants in Mexico City. There are unmissable food spots seemingly on every corner of this metropolis and we&rsquore sure one of the best ways to enjoy a city is through its food.

The gastronomy of Mexico City reflects the history of Mexican cooking and it&rsquos considered to be some of the best food in the world but more specifically, it&rsquos a collection of the most irreverent and exquisite follies of the genuines that call the shots with the stove. Here are the 25 most delicious spots for food that are at once fresh, innovative, and memorable. All the restaurants are reviewed anonymously by local experts, giving you a snapshot of the everyday experience.

What&rsquos on offer at these eateries varies widely, from kitchens with unparalleled upmarket dishes to straight-forward bar bites, not to mention the best in comfort food from cafés and restaurants alike. We sampled the best restaurants in town for you. Now go out there, grab a table, and follow your instincts to some delicious eats. Bon appetit!

Eaten somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutEatList. You can also find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews restaurants here.

Mog Bistro Arrow

Mog Sumiya serves Japanese yakiniku: meats and vegetables that you cook on individual barbecue grills while sitting on the floor. The menu is short and sweet, with bites like kimchi, pickles, yukke (raw minced beef with chile paste and topped with a raw egg yolk), and a couple of rice dishes. The main event, of course, is the grill order a platter of three types of beef, or choose among tongue, galbi, sweetbreads, tripe, pork cheeks, and chicken. Use the side of lettuce to wrap your charred morsels. It can be sometimes a challenge to find other flavors (beyond Mexican) in Mexico City, but restaurants like this from the city's rich immigrant communities are a great place to start.

Watch the video: Μποτρινι για μάγειρες (May 2022).