Enrique Olvera is awarded the Global Gastronomy Award 2017
Last Global Gastronomy Award recipients:
2010: René Redzepi, Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
2011: Alain Passard, l’Arpège, Paris, France
2012: David Chang, Momofuko, New York, USA
2013: Gastón Acurio, Astrid y Gastón, Lima, Peru
2014: Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
2015: Magnus Nilsson, Fäviken Magasinet, Järpen/Åre, Sweden
2016: Dan Barber, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York, USA
ENRIQUE OLVERA, Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico. Global Gastronomy Award 2017
“For having elevated Mexican classics and beloved street food to new heights, bridging modesty and sophistication, hindsight and modernity – and for bringing the rich spectrum of regional fare into the limelight, including indigenous and ancient delicacies, whose secrets he has successfully unlocked.”
Mexican food is a universe in itself, spanning a vast diversity of regional produce, ingredients and traditions, some pre-Columbian. Yet, sophistication is not what first comes to mind when imaging Mexican food, but rather frozen Margaritas, nachos and guacamole, which may be more Tex-Mex than authentic Mexican. Enrique Olvera is about to change all that. He successively re-defines and elevates this ancient and rustic cooking into contemporary gastronomy, with full respect for its roots and unique qualities. With a little tweaking from the inspired hands of Chef Olvera the legacy of Mexican cooking plays out in new and sometimes unexpected ways at his restaurants, especially at Pujol in Mexico City. Based on his stock of native ingredients like heirloom corn, wild herbs and greens, rare endemic seeds, nuts, chillies, and indeed insects like maguey worms and flying chicatana ants, he is not only moving Mexican cuisine forward, but expanding our notion of food itself. More Chefs profiles here
A hallmark of his cooking is recognizing street food as a major culinary asset
By analyzing its flavours in-depth he unceasingly works on enhancing these rustic dishes, sometimes to higher clarity, sometimes to deeper complexity. Inspiration is right around the corner. Nowhere is the varied abundance of regional Mexican food more evident than in the streets of Mexico City, today the home of more than 22 million people from all over the country, all of them bringing the flavours of their regions to their pots.
At Pujol, his new restaurant in Mexico City’s elegant Polanco district – which is strikingly modern in a Zen way and more casual than its predecessor by 16 years – the signature dishes demonstrate Olvera’s longstanding commitment to unlocking the secrets of regional Mexican “grandma cooking”. As a result, the tasting menu opens up with some glorious street snacks, including smoked baby corn served on sticks in a hollowed out gourd with a chilli mayonnaise, remark- ably deep in umami from ant powder.
Morover, the iconic highlight is the mole madre, essentially a mole negro that has been cooking on Olvera’s stoves for more than 3 years – and still is, and which continues to deepen in complexity. A triumph of flavour, it is presented in a dark aromatic ring with a freshly made mole in the middle, both of which one wipes up in hot hoja santa (“sacred leaf”) tortillas, and eats as tacos.
In Mexico a taco is not a dish, it’s a way of eating.
To conclude, Chef Olvera has described his mole madre as an organism: old, but alive and still kicking. Indeed, this is the perfect metaphor for Mexican cuisine itself.