I am a chica with a serious appetite. I love to eat as much as I adore the rituals around food: family gatherings, learning how to make arepas or arroz con coco while chatting with PAPI, celebrations of milestones and holidays as a nuclear family in San Francisco and with our big-in-size, big-in-personality extended family in Colombia where I summered as a kid.
I've never taken a cooking class in my life, and although I appreciate technique and principle, I'm absolutely intoxicated by the passion and memories the kitchen evokes. Whether I've spoken with a world famous chef or a mom whipping up some mac & cheese for her kids, all are on the same Proustian madeleine quest: to capture that feeling of sheer bliss we once experienced--either in childhood when we felt protected, on vacation when you heard your soul whisper, "I've been here," even though your passport bears no seal to confirm this hunch, or realizing somewhere between the umpteenth pour and dessert, that we might not make it, but right now, we are in Love.
Interviewing Chef Richard Sandoval was a whirlwind, because he had flown in from who-knows-where (with critically-acclaimed restaurants in New York City, Dubai, Qatar, Virginia, Denver, Las Vegas, California, Mexico City, and the nation's capital, he lives on a plane). His taquería, tequilería, rooftop, lounge--El Centro D.F. in Washington, DC--was just hours from opening.
No literary device, no hyperbole for effect. When I arrived, 2x4s lined the floor, drills were frantically buzzing, the shellac on the tables was still drying (my martini glass--¡zip it!--got stuck). But in he swooped, in all his Mexico-City-Lomas-neighborhood fabulosity. Despite having his minutes measured by his PR goddess, in typical Mexican fashion, he was gracious, charming, welcoming, and game to get out of the kitchen.
Get ready for perhaps the only Flip Cam video restaurant tour and interview Chef Richard has ever granted! He introduces us to the three "experiences" at El Centro, D.F. Then he opens up about his culinary influences, the one ingredient he can't live without, and shares what he believes the 2010 U.S. Census results reveal about American food.
Watch video here:
What's the one ingredient you can't live without and why?