This year at the Mexico Food Fair 2014 saw some of the most important chefs from Mexico doing cooking demos and talks, while attendees sipped new mezcales—coming into the U.S. market in the fast growing sector of agave-based spirits—sampled salsas and other essential seasonings for the Mexican kitchen. There were signs everywhere at the annual expo that Mexican cuisine in the U.S. has so much room to grow in the coming year. Tijuana-based chef Javier Plascencia will open his first serious restaurant north of the border called Bracero: Cocina Mexicana de Raiz in San Diego’s Little Italy, and Mexico City chef Enrique Olvera’s Cosme is opening next week in New York City.
At the L.A. Convention Center, chef Daniel Ovadia of Mexico City’s Paxia spoke on the current state of Mexican cuisine—I recently attended a brilliant 14-course tasting at Paxia where Ovadia orchestrated a tour of State of Mexico products prepared with modern technique on the theme of popular cuisine. Chef Josefina Santa Cruz of Mexico City’s Dumas Gourmet talked about street food in Mexico, which continues to influence our own street food here in Los Angeles. And finally, local chef Juan Mondragon of Juan’s Restaurante continued his crusade for the healing foods of Mexico: nopales (cactus paddles) and xoconostles (prickly pears).
On the expo floor, mezcal was one of the stars of the this edition of the Mexico Food Fair. New brands are pouring into the U.S, from states in the mezcal Denomination of Origin like Guanajuato and Tamaulipus. The first wave of mezcal to hit L.A. was mostly from the state of Oaxaca and now we see more brands from the greater mezcal region. Of course, that means the introduction of sal de gusano, or grub salt, which is a traditional accompaniment to mezcal. This is all fantastic news for the ever more popular Mexican food and beverage sector in Los Angeles. Expect better quality ingredients and more expressions of agave, and to that I say salud!