Kevin Morrison, exec chef-owner of Pinche Taqueria, on learning enough to move on
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Raquelitas tortillas and Superior Farms lamb's tongue. As a chef, you want to make as much as you can in-house, so before we launched the truck, our goal was to make tortillas to order, and while we finally nailed the tortilla, it wasn't cost-effective, but the tortillas from Raquelitas are amazing. As for the lamb's tongue, we partnered with Superior Farms during Harvest Week, and while I knew I wanted to use lamb on the menu, I wasn't sure what cut I wanted. After a brainstorming session, they suggested the tongue, and it was the perfect choice. I love it.
What are your kitchen-tool obsessions? A sharp knife. When we first opened the taqueria, we didn't have a knife service, mostly because we always sharpened our own when we were on the truck, so that's what we were comfortable with. And then when we opened the restaurant, our knives were getting destroyed -- the guys are on the line from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. We were so focused on the business that we didn't realize we needed to hire a knife service. Luckily, on his first day of work, my new kitchen manager, Poncho, called a knife-sharpening service. When he told me, it was like WTF? Why didn't I think of that?
One food you detest: Jalapeño peppers reminds me of the person with no personality at a party. Who wants to be around that?
One food you can't live without: As a chef, I love citrus. It makes food pop and balances out most dishes. Mexican or Italian citrus is a great asset.
Best food trend of the year: Gluten-free diets. At first I hated them, but it's taken me out of my comfort zone and pushed me from a culinary standpoint as well as a business standpoint. We get so many requests that we've even added a gluten-free taco to the menu. Who knew that Mexican cuisine was such a great playground for gluten-free ideas? It's opened my eyes to new opportunities as well as a new demographic.
Worst food trend of the year: The twenty-minute cocktail. I love where the industry is going with mixology, but, damn, twenty minutes to make a drink? Just make two in that case.
What's never in your kitchen? Huevones, which is Spanish for lazy people. I can't stand working with lazy people. We've hired kitchen guys with zero experience, but if they prove that they have a great work ethic, we welcome them with open arms.
What's always in your kitchen? Café de olla Mexican coffee. I love coffee, and this stuff blows me away. We always have a pot on the stove.