In Mexican culture, tacos are more than just a food. They are a way of life.
Enrique Olvera took that to heart. A world-renowned chef and entrepreneur, Olvera has made it his mission to inspire his community through his love of tacos and love for Mexico City.
The LA Times launched it’s third annual Food Bowl Festival this month, welcoming Olvera to its opening night ceremony. While there, he presented the first incarnation of his praised symposium outside of Mexico City. Together he and LA Times Food Editor Peter Meehan explored the world of Mexican cuisine, while celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mexico and Los Angeles being sister cities.
Grit Daily caught up with the chef for a quick interview in person, as he discussed the direct connection between LA and his homeland.
Grit Daily: Being someone who is a huge influencer on the Mexican culture, how important was is it for you to bring your symposium to LA for the first time?
Enrique Olvera: I think for us it was more important for LA to give to us as we are giving to LA. I think when someone invites you into their house; you have to be respectful and you have to be grateful. Hopefully these events show our thankfulness and respect to the community because we understand here we are coming in and we want to be part of the community.
We are not crazy chefs trying to make a statement, we are actual people who want to come into the community and be apart of it. We admire, respect and love this town.
GD: I know that is the 50th anniversary of Mexico and LA being sister cities, can you tell me what that means to you?
EO: I think that anyone who knows LA well and Mexico City well, can easily recognize the similarities between the cities not only from the astronomical prospective which is something we live everyday from the idiosyncrasies, to the cultural aspects and architectural aspects.
I think that as we are able to recognize those similarities we become stronger and we also are able to celebrate our similarities and our differences.
GD: As you often talk about tacos and the vast love you have for them, what is the best way to describe your relationship with tacos and everything they have given you?
EO:I think that tacos are a way of eating, it is not necessarily a place and I see that here in Los Angeles for example, I was having lunch today and we had hand rolls in a Japanese restaurant and that in a way was a taco.
So here I think that tacos also transcends to tortilla and it’s filling which is a way of eating as well. So we are excited to be here because we will be able to also break some partings of our own by being a part of the community.
GD: Your Pujol’s restaurant was named one of the best restaurants in the world in 2018, what does that mean for someone like you when your always inspiring so many other people to live out their creative passion through food?
EO: We’re very happy that we are able to get coverage by the nation by doing tacos and staying true to our culture. I think that one of the reasons why we love what we do is because we are so proud of our heritage.
Coverage from the nation and being one of the worlds best is not for us. It is for Mexican cuisine, for our cultural identity, and in that sense it gives us field to keep on aspiring to do more.
Want to learn more about Mexico City and LA’s intertwined food culture? Check out Grit Daily’s coverage on that “pairing” here.