What was your first job?
Ball boy at the local tennis club in Mexico City when I was around 10.
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
A late-night quesadilla with loads of cheese oozing out of it and chipotle salsa. It’s my ultimate comfort food.
What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
I truly think restaurant meals should me memorable experiences. Arzak in San Sebastian at the chef’s table to celebrate my son’s second birthday. They made his own tasting menu and Elena Arzak personally gave him a silver fork and spoon to take with him at the end of the meal. They really went above and beyond to ensure he had a wonderful experience. And my two-year-old, who at the time could never sit still, was immersed in the experience the whole time.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
A few, but if I need to choose perhaps David Chang – I admire him and love Momofuku’s ethos, offering and philosophy and how each one has its own style. Whether it’s Asian flavours or even tamales I once saw on the menu, everything is delicious, and the atmosphere is always buzzy and very New York.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
What is your biggest regret?
Changing the city where I went to university so I could no longer compete on the national rowing team which was training to take part in the 2000 Olympics.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
Chefs not constantly trying the dishes
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
“Hope the owners don’t keep all the tips”
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Big Mac ™
Describe your cooking style in three words.
Mexican, Spontaneous and Spicy
Most overrated food?
Open Sandwich, either order a sandwich or a salad with a slice of bread. Come to think of it, a “naked” burrito is an even more ridiculous iteration of this.
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Mobile phones and planning permission.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
It was shortly after opening our original tiny site in Rivington Street. A table was asked to leave after they had been sat for an hour and a half just sipping tap water and eating a few tacos and there was a queue outside on a Saturday evening. They weren’t very happy!
If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
My mum – Lucero. She lives in Mexico so I only see her a few times a year and I love her trying the food I make. Helps that she is my biggest fan!
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Ask for as much advice as you can as it is extremely helpful but also know when to trust your instinct and follow your passion.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
When at the restaurant a blender, when at home a molcajete (Mexican mortar and pestle), you can’t make salsas without one of these two.
What do you cook at home on your days off?
Pancakes for my four-year old, Sebastian.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Getting take away at a tamal stall when I was in nursery on the corner of the street in Mexico City for my packed lunch! There were dramas if the tamal lady didn’t show up that day…
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When I told my late father in law that I wanted to marry Natalie and he told me that if I could cope with Natalie’s rocket-like temper then to go ahead, but if I couldn’t then it was best not to go there.
Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Playing hide and seek with Sebastian my son
Tipple of choice?
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Pork carnitas tacos with salsa verde