During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Latinx community in the United States celebrates its history and culture. In Arizona, the rich Latinx representation is especially evident in the local cuisine. Chefs play a crucial role in showcasing the diversity and flavors of Hispanic heritage through their dishes. We interviewed five metro Phoenix Latinx chefs who shared the dishes that best reflect their Hispanic roots.
Chef David Brito of Geordie’s at Wrigley Mansion combines his culinary upbringing in Arizona with his Mexican heritage to create a dish that tells a story. He serves a 14-day dry-aged duck paired with a huitlacoche tamale. Huitlacoche, a versatile ingredient indigenous to Mexicans, is a corn smut that grows on ears of corn. Chef Brito makes a puree out of huitlacoche to fold into the masa, which is enriched with foie gras fat and cornmeal from Ramona Farms. The dish is served open-faced to highlight the vibrant color of huitlacoche and the duck leg confit.
Chef Ivan Jacobo of Anhelo restaurant downtown presents a classic French dish with a Mexican twist. His foie gras torchon is accompanied by Mexican papaya cooked in piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar), topped with pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachios. The tropical flavor from the papaya complements the dish perfectly.
For chef Yulissa Acosta of Hearth ’61, carne en su jugo is the dish that represents her Mexican heritage. This stew combines meat, pinto beans, and pork tomatillo, creating a comforting and flavorful meal. Acosta’s family from Sinaloa has different variations of this dish based on what ingredients are available. She believes that cooking is a labor of love and finds joy in preparing this dish that holds many memories.
Richard Hinojosa, chef-owner of CRUJiente Tacos, recalls his first encounter with mole when his godmother prepared mole con pollo. The rich flavors and depth of the mole left a lasting impression on him. He later developed his own version of the recipe, as mole is a celebratory food that requires time, care, and love to prepare.
Chef Maria Arenas of ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho shares her story of making flan, a classic Argentinian dessert, with her grandmother. Flan is made with a generous amount of eggs, and in Argentina, there is a competition among grandmothers and grandfathers to see who can use the most eggs. Making flan with her grandmother inspired Arenas to pursue a career in pastry.
These five Latinx chefs in Phoenix use their culinary skills to honor their heritage and share their culture through the dishes they create. Through these diverse and flavorful meals, they invite people to experience the richness of Hispanic cuisine throughout the year.
– (Source article) This historic, family-run Mexican restaurant makes best burritos in Phoenix
– Definition of Hispanic Heritage Month: https://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/
– Definitions of huitlacoche, mole con pollo, piloncillo: Merriam-Webster Dictionary