Enrique Olvera wins the Global Gastronomy Award

White Guide praises the Mexican chef for elevating lowly street food and unearthing ancient delicacies
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Enrique Olvera. Image courtesy of White Guides
Enrique Olvera. Image courtesy of White Guides

In 1997, the Mexican chef and Phaidon author Enrique Olvera graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and returned to his home country. In the US, Olvera had learned how to prepare excellent haute cuisine within a French-style brigade system. He and his fellow graduates had also heard about the incredible gastronomic achievements of Ferran Adrià, whose elBulli restaurant received its third Michelin star that year.

However, on returning home, Olvera realised that he did not really know how to cook Mexican food. “I had no in-depth knowledge of my own country’s gastronomy and was far from able to cook it as I should,” he says in our book Mexico from the Inside Out. “I hadn’t been taught how to make tostadas or moles del olla at the CIA.”

 

Barbecued corn stall, Mexico City. Photo by Araceli Paz. From Enrique Olvera’s Mexico From the Inside Out
Barbecued corn stall, Mexico City. Photo by Araceli Paz. From Enrique Olvera’s Mexico From the Inside Out

So Olvera decided to teach himself. He travelled the country, speaking with producers, restaurateurs and chefs, learning, analysing and tasting everything he could.

Those trips paid off. Olvera’s Pujol restaurant is currently ranked 20 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, while his New York City outpost, Cosme, is at 40. Now, Sweden’s prestigious White Guide has awarded the chef its 2017 Global Gastronomy Award.

The award citation praises Olvera for elevating “Mexican classics and beloved street food to new heights, bridging modesty and sophistication, hindsight and modernity – and for bringing the rich spectrum of regional fare into the limelight, including indigenous and ancient delicacies, whose secrets he has successfully unlocked.”

 

Baby Corn with Chicatana Ant, Coffee, and Chile Costeno Mayonnaise. Photo by Araceli Paz. From Enrique Olvera’s Mexico From the Inside Out
Baby Corn with Chicatana Ant, Coffee, and Chile Costeno Mayonnaise. Photo by Araceli Paz. From Enrique Olvera’s Mexico From the Inside Out

The 2017 prize places the chef in hallowed company; five of the previous eleven recipients have been Phaidon authors, including Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi, Gastón Acurio, Massimo Bottura, and Magnus Nilsson. Congratulations, Enrique.

For more on their work, browse our chef monographs here; for more on Enrique, invest in a copy of the stunning Mexico from the Inside Out.


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