Enrique Olvera says his new LA restaurant could be his last
The chef outlines his multicultural plans for LA's arts district, due to open this summer
For the less experienced diner, meat and spices are essential ingredients in Mexican cuisine; better informed gourmands, however, know there’s more than one way to fill a taco. As the Mexican chef Enrique Olvera demonstrated in his debut cookbook, Mexico from the Inside Out, cookery south of the border can retain traditional ingredients and techniques, while also drawing on contemporary methods and styles. His Baby Corn with Chicatana Ant, Coffee, and Chile Costeno Mayonnaise dish isn’t your typical food truck fare, though it certainly represents many gastronomic elements of Olvera’s national cuisine.
Now, as the chef prepares to open a restaurant in Los Angeles's arts district, he reveals that he’s cutting back on meat and spices, to focus on fish and vegetables. “We want food that’s extremely light, vegetable-driven and seafood-focused,” he tells Eater.com. “Often when people think about Mexican food, they think of heavier, spicy food, but we like very light dishes.”
That emphasis on the plant kingdom also extends to the restaurant’s décor. “We’re doing lots of plants,” he goes on. “It’s very Mexican to have a household collection of plants. My grandmother even named hers, which is kind of crazy.”
And, while LA’s warm climate enables Olvera to focus more on plant life, so the city’s cultural make-up has let the chef venture beyond his national cuisine’s borders. In Los Angeles “there’s a mix between Korean-Mexican and Japanese-Mexican,” he explains, “and I’m interested in being part of that.”
He also indicated that this Los Angeles restaurant – due to open in June or July 2019 – could be his last opening.
“I think we’re at the point of being very happy with what we’re doing and most of our goals have been met. There’s this idea of continuous growth, but you need to stop somewhere.” he says, “I have a good life, you know? I don’t want to screw it up.” Trust a chef to know when not to overcook it.
For more on Enrique Olvera’s cookery, career and outlook get Mexico from the Inside Out; and to recreate some of his recipes at home look out for Tu Casa Mi Casa: Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook which we publish later this year.