Chef Gabriela Cámara demystifies the idea that Mexican food is complex
Publishing the cookbook “My Mexico City Kitchen,” is only one of the many firsts for acclaimed restaurant owner Gabriela Cámara this year. She is also opening a new restaurant in Los Angeles with Jessica Kuslow of Sqirl and returning to Mexico City after a five-year hiatus to, among other things, advise Andrés Manuel López Obrador on food policy as a member of the new Council of Cultural Diplomacy.
Then there’s her feel-good Netflix documentary, “A Tale of Two Kitchens,” which celebrates both her 20-year-old Mexico City flagship Contramar and the San Francisco hot spot, Cala, she opened five years ago.
Recently Cámara joined SalonTV’s Manny Howard on “Salon Talks” to share wisdom on how she maintains the beachfront whimsy that inspired Contramar so many years ago and the exceptional preparation and disciplined service that immediately made it a lunchtime hub for the influential, artistic and creative heavyweights in Mexico’s capital and a must-dine for tourists and business travelers.
In her cookbook, Cámara plants the flag as the city’s culinary curator. Most Mexico City residents,” she says, come to the bustling capital of 25 million residents from elsewhere in the country. “For instance, my father grew up in Mexico City but his mother was from Campeche and his father was from Tabasco. So the recipes from my grandmother were the recipes from the southeast.”
It is the fluidity of internal urban migration that allows Cámara to claim exactly what she wants from her country’s sometimes complex, sometimes straight-ahead, yet always rich, culinary traditions as her Mexico City cuisine.
In “A Tale of Two Kitchens,” Cámara observes that many Americans adore Mexican food, but despise Mexican people. Watch the episode above to learn how Cámara’s navigates that dichotomy and runs a business that nurtures a staff that includes multiple generations of families.
For more food-centric episodes, visit our “Salon Talks” Food playlist
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