Mexico is in the spotlight on the world's culinary stage. This is a result of a generation of great new chefs, their hospitality and their strong ties with international culinary big names. Over the last two years Mexico City has hosted Mesamérica, a world-class culinary symposium similar to MAD in Copenhagen or Mistura in Lima. This event has drawn gastronomic personalities such as René Redzepi, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Daniel Patterson, Yoshiaki Takazawa, Alex Atala and Massimo Bottura. The ties generated over this event have been consolidated into more than a few great friendships. We also see every day more Mexican talent featured in first-rate international events such as the recent Madrid Fusión, with the participation of chef Daniel Ovadía (Paxia, Mexico City), or Cook It Raw Charleston: the relationship with Mexican chefs and their journeys around the world have seem to have attracted the attention of Cook It Raw founder Alessandro Porcelli, can we expect a 2014 Cook It Raw edition hosted in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula?
In a great recent example of such gatherings, Mexican chef Roberto Solís celebrated the tenth anniversary of his restaurant Néctar, located in Merida in southern Mexico. On this occasion he asked fellow chefs, with whom he has a special personal and professional link to join him to cook for a celebratory dinner. Yucatan saw the likes of Albert Adriá (Tickets, Barcelona), Curtis Duffy (Grace, Chicago), Matt Orlando (Amass, Copenhagen), and Mexican chefs Elena Reygadas (Rosetta, Mexico City); Benito Molina (Manzanilla, Ensenada), Guillermo González Bersitain (Pangea, Monterrey) and Jair Téllez (Merotoro, Mexico City & Laja, Ensenada). Together they offered an inventive tasting menu using mainly local ingredients such as sour orange, mole, habanero pepper or pumpkin seeds.
Three dishes prepared at Nectar's anniversary. From left to right: Roberto Solis' Chicken with local ingredients; Confit of sweetbreads, spicy veal stew, smoked corn purée, Yucatan lime cream by Guillermo González; Curtis Duff's dish (golden trout eggs with bitter orange granita and apple).
This is how 2014 kicked off in Mexico. Just the first in a lineup of events where famous international chefs will cook in restaurants all over the country. In Boomerang at the Pujol restaurant chefs Magnus Ek and Isaac McHale will cook and for the new Mesa Abierta event (20th to 23rd March), a festival organised as part of Mesamerica that will focus on the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, meals will be prepared by chefs Frank Castronovo, Frank Falcinelli, Mauro Colagreco and Rick Bayless, as well as Mexican chefs such as Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil, Mexico City), Edgar Nuñez (Sud 777, Mexico City), and others.
Mexican cuisine is slowly being considered as a rising star in many International cities. Mexican chef Enrique Olvera will soon be opening Cosme in New York, a restaurant & bar without a tasting menu but with an offer of 20-25 dishes. "Like in Pujol, I will work with local suppliers and seasonal ingredients. Only that instead of quelites there may be asparagus in salsa verde." In this vein, it is impossible not to recognize the work of the American Alex Stupak at another New York restaurant, Empellón Cocina. Here, Stupak has boldly been cooking with Mexican ingredients and creating original dishes since 2012. In Spain, great things are expected of Albert Adrià’s Mexican restaurant soon to open in the centre of Barcelona. A space that brings together two concepts: a “taqueria” that will look like a garage and a more formal dining area that will offer more refined food. It was his business associate, the Mexican chef Francisco Mendez, who guided Adrià through the complex cooking traditions of the country.
Now that Mexico is gaining fame and international aclaim around the world, perhaps chefs and those working in the ever increasing industry should pay close attention to some of Albert Adrià’s well placed words: "Mexico reminds me of the situation that Spanish cuisine was in a couple of years ago, I recommend camaraderie and keeping your feet on the ground".