Carlos Gaytán features in a documentary that charts his improbable journey from a town in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, through the perilous voyage to make a better life in the US, his culinary education and the founding of his first restaurant Mexique to his being the first Latin American chef to ever win a Michelin star.
The documentary ‘Lives with Flavour, From Earth to the Michelin Star (Vidas con sabor: De la tierra a la estrella Michelin) and will screen on October 21 at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival. The documentary is part of a series that tells the stories of some leading Mexican chefs including Carlos Gaytan, Monica Patino, Dominique Tougne and Alex Ruiz.
The film is an emotional retelling of the chef’s life to date, the difficulties he has faced and the joys reached through his successes. Throughout it all his food is centre stage. Gaytán tells of how close he came to closing his restaurant Mexique, in Chicago’s West Town neighbourhood, when he received a call from Michelin to say he was being awarded a star. The Mexican chef didn’t even know what it was, but it changed everything for him. It filled the tables in his restaurant and allowed his career to really take off.
Fast forward to today and Gaytán is riding a wave of success. Mexican food is very much in the spotlight and the chef is expanding in Chicago with his new restaurant Tzuco, with a neighbouring bakery (Panango) to open in October and tasting-menu restaurant (Tales of Carlos Gaytán) then set for November.
Gaytán has spoken about his intention to make Tzuco (a name for his hometown, Huitzuco) the best Mexican restaurant in the world and in the film he explains what makes his food special.
“How am I going to present it? How am I going to surprise you?” he explains. “How am I going to change your life with a dish? Religious moments, if you want to call it, it’s personal, it’s different, you know that your hands, you have a gift, but it is not for me, that gift is for the people whom I am going to serve, it’s not mine, it’s theirs.”