Part two: Chef and Tell with Roberto Diaz from Mezcal
3230 East Colfax Avenue
This is part two of Lori Midson's Q&A with Roberto Diaz, executive chef of Mezcal. To read part one of that interview, click here.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: Mexican food for Mexicans -- things like menudo, tongue, brain, that are truly authentic Mexican foods that Mexican nationals grew up with. I remember the street carts in Mexico and eating tacos outside while listening to mariachi bands. There isn't much of that in Denver, and a lot of Mexican food here has been changed to suit the taste of Americans.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: Less Tex-Mex. I'm tired of it; it's not really even Mexican food. You should never have cheddar cheese on a burrito.
Favorite restaurant in Mexico: Herradura, in Juárez, Mexico. It's like a street fair with gorditas, aguas frescas, fresh tamales and atole. It's Mexican street food all under one roof, and it's all just crazy-amazing good.
Best food city in America: Denver, of course. I really haven't been able to travel around too much. In Mexico, you spend time with your family at home rather than travel. And since I've been in Denver, I've been so busy with my kids, family and work that I haven't had time to travel. But I really want to go to New York.
Favorite music to cook by: Country music -- actually, Mexican country music. I'm a creature of habit, and I'm a country boy, and Mexican country music speaks to me. Riding horses and cooking are where I live. Country music lets me think about both at the same time.
Biggest kitchen disaster: During our first Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2004, we had a transformer blow out in the alley. We had a full house, the bar was three deep, and we were on an hour-and-a-half wait. All of the computers went down, the hoods weren't working, and I had about ten tickets that still needed to go out. So we did the best that we could and brought in a bunch of candles to the kitchen and cooked under candlelight for the rest of the night. Cinco week is always crazy at Mezcal, but I'll never forget this one.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? I love my knives. Some, that I've been using for years, were given to me by my family. The pride I feel in my kitchen when everything is working just right is a really great gift, too.
One book that every chef should read: The Bible. It teaches you faith and how to live your life. Amen.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network, and what would it be about? I'd like to have a Mexican street-food show that would spotlight all the different styles of cooking and foods that you can get on the street corners from all parts of Mexico.