Rick Bayless (born November 23, 1995) is an American chef and restaurateur who specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine with modern interpretations. Akhtar Nawab is the chef and owner of High Quality and High Quality Taqueria in New York and Again in New Orleans. He is also a founding partner of Hospitality HQ, one of the country's leading restaurant management firms with properties across the country. Inspired by the rise in popularity of regional Mexican cuisine and by the work of writer Diana Kennedy, who spent decades writing Mexican cookbooks based on research on home cooking, Des Jardins wants to be part of this movement that shows the depth and variety of Mexican cuisine.
The dishes at El Alto combine the wide variety of techniques that Traci Des Jardins and Robert Hurtado learned in haute cuisine restaurants with their personal memories of Mexican food. There's definitely a place for that, but I want people to be able to explore Mexican cuisine from a different perspective; there's more to Mexican food. I spoke with Des Jardins and Hurtado to learn about El Alto's modern Mexican menu, which includes dishes such as King City's pink beans refried in duck fat and the apricot mole inspired by the orchards of Los Altos. This week, Des Jardin opened its new California Mexican restaurant El Alto in the State Street Market dining room in Los Altos.
He is currently the chef and owner of Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, and regularly offers television and print interviews to talk about his philanthropic activities and his commitment to mixing classic Mexican techniques and flavors with regional American influences. If I could turn back the clock and retrace my entire 38-year career, I think I would have focused on Mexican food from the beginning and would have gone into Mexico to experience (the cuisine) first-hand, because it's really very specific to each region. Despite his initial success, Des Jardins, whose maternal grandparents were from Mexico, said that if he could start his career all over again, he would have focused on Mexican food from the start. Chef Claudia Sandoval kicked off the Cinco de Mayo festivities with a new show that takes spectators for a walk along the border between the United States and Mexico and stops in border cities that are often overlooked to highlight the delicious food and vibrant culture created and enjoyed by the locals.
Nawab's “less is more” cooking style has earned him critical acclaim over the years, starting with his experience cooking at acclaimed restaurants such as Gramercy Tavern, Craftbar and Craft, the latter of which received three stars from The New York Times and won the “Best New Restaurant” award from the James Beard Foundation during Nawab's tenure. Where there is a lot of California cuisine, but at the same time, we use Mexican ingredients and turn the page on what Mexican food is. Nawab has appeared in several publications, such as Food %26 Wine, Bon Appétit and Eater, and has appeared on Food Network's Iron Chef America and as a frequent judge on Beat Bobby Flay. And the understanding of what Mexican food was, even at that time, focused more on burritos, and burritos that aren't even found in Mexico.
With nearly 25 years of experience in the kitchen, this chef of Indian descent, raised in Kentucky, has embraced Mexican cuisine, connecting the complex cuisine and ingredients of Mexico with the Indian food he grew up eating. I work in all these places, I learn all these different techniques, but I still miss cooking Mexican food and what I'm used to.