Aged only 36, Enrique Olvera is already an icon: in an incredibly short period of time, he has led his restaurant
Pujol, in Mexico City, to a huge success. Today, it is the only Mexican restaurant to rank among the San Pellegrino 50 World’s Best Restaurants list. A dedicated supporter of local sourcing as a value that he applies to Pujol, Enrique says: “We always look for the best ingredients and we only choose local products. In this way, we build great relationships with producers, who give us their best produce”. Enrique’s inspiration is classic Mexican cuisine and he uses traditional ingredients, which he mixes and matches with cleverness, a lot of personality and the right amount of innovation. “Reinventing is one of the many ways to rediscover and promote our tradition, and after all it is an almost natural process: cooking continuously reinvents itself and adapts to the changing environment and people’s needs. This is why, at Pujol, we try to have a “fresh” approach to tradition, rather than entirely abandoning it or following it blindly”.
Ambassador of Regional Mexican Cuisine
An ambassador of Mexican cuisine even in his own country, Olvera’s restaurant has the reputation of being the “progressive Mexican restaurant”, although today his dishes are mainly characterized by their local nature. “At the beginning of my career, creativity was my top priority. When you’re young, you try to do the most creative dish. But as you cook more and more, you just want to do the best dish. I only use local ingredients and techniques. We want to be as Mexican as we can, although there is no Mexican national cuisine as such.
I’d rather talk about regional cuisine. Countries which are large enough to also have different climates also have different varieties of gastronomy”.
His demonstrations at the Salone will offer first-hand experience of regional ingredients, techniques and flavors, including products from the 12 Mexican Terra Madre food communities, such as Chinantla vanilla from Oaxaca, Chontalpa cocoa from Tabasco and Amaranth from the Tehuacán Valley. On Sunday October 28, Olvera will join four other Latin American chefs and three-Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura of Modena’s ‘La Francescana’ at the ‘Terra Madre Network: Europe meets Latin America’ event. An unprecedented opportunity to symbolically unite the gastronomic knowledge and heritage of these two continents, chefs from Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and Mexico will be preparing a dinner menu alongside Massimo Bottura and Uruguyan chef Matias Perdomo of Michelin-starred Pont de Ferr in Milan, taking inspiration from the products of the Terra Madre food communities.
Driven by a desire to increase quality, standards and education among culinary students and professionals alike, he was one of the main organizers of the food symposium Mesamérica, which took place at the Blackberry auditorium in Mexico City from July 25-28. Organized by the Mexican Culinary Collective, Ambrosio Group, Gula magazine and the Institute of Culinary Arts in Coronado, the event aims to explore the challenges and opportunities of Mexico’s culinary legacy and support the development of Mexican cuisine through research and outreach. For Olvera, Mesamérica is above all a forum for dialogue and exchange, allowing chefs to be inspired by new ideas and tools to improve their craft and contributing to position Mexican cuisine in the global food scene. Over the four days, Mexican chefs such as Jair Tallez, Alejandro Ruiz and Benito Molina and high-profile guest chefs such as Rick Bayless and Spain’s Albert Aridà took part in taste workshops, debates and discussions. More information is available at www.mesamerica.mx.