Chef lauded as ambassador of Mexican cuisine named lifetime achievement winner

Chef Enrique Olvera's restaurant is still one of the most popular in town after 15 years of operating. — Reuters pic
Chef Enrique Olvera's restaurant is still one of the most popular in town after 15 years of operating. — Reuters pic

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MEXICO CITY, Sept 10 — Chef Enrique Olvera, widely credited with transforming Mexico’s gastronomic landscape, has been named the recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the organizers of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Recipients are recognised for having made an indelible impact at both the local and international levels of gastronomy; their influence on fellow chefs; and the reception from critics and diners.

Fifteen years after opening Pujol in Mexico City, Olvera’s restaurant remains one of the hottest tickets in town  -- and one of the most notoriously difficult for scoring a reservation.

At Pujol, the heritage of Mexican cuisine is revisited and elevated into an edible art form: octopus is served on an ink tostada with habanero and oregano mayonnaise and chicken is served with a green sauce chicharron and peas.

In addition to broadening the definition of Mexican cuisine and changing the minds of both local and international diners at Pujol, Olvera also founded Mesamerica in 2012, an ambitious food festival that attracts a powerhouse of top chefs and promotes Mexican and Latin American gastronomy.

The award is the latest accolade for the chef this year. In June, Vogue magazine devoted a feature story to Olvera, painting a flattering portrait of the man who is “...poised to transform the cultural and gastronomic meaning of Mexican cuisine.”

Or, as legendary Spanish chef Ferran Adria once put it: “There was Mexican food before Enrique Olvera, and Mexican food after Enrique Olvera.”

After opening his first restaurant outside Mexico, Cosme, in New York last year, Olvera is also planning to open an eatery in partnership with his chef friends Massimo Bottura and Andoni Luis Aduriz in an unexpected country: Cuba.

Anticipating that the Caribbean island will become one of the hottest destinations in the coming years following the diplomatic Cuban-US thaw, the trio of friends have set their sights on bringing their respective culinary expertise—Mexican, Italian and Spanish cuisine—to Cuba.

And if that’s not enough, Olvera has also written his first English-language cookbook “Mexico from the Inside Out,” which will be published in October.

Previous winners of the lifetime achievement award include Brazil’s Alex Atala of D.O.M. and Gaston Acurio of Astrid y Gaston in Peru.

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards takes place September 23 in Mexico City. — AFP-Relaxnews

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