Elena Reygadas | From Mexico City to London Town

26 Apr 2015
4 min read
The queen bee of Mexico City will be shaking things up this week as she touches down to head the kitchen of Lyle’s, London, in their kitchen takeover event.

Elena is the unsung hero of modern Mexican cuisine. Last year she was votedVeuve Clicquot Latin America’s Best Female Chef 2014 and continues to wow audiences all over the world. For the next couple of days she will be collaborating with Lyle’s, London in their chef takeover series. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase talent from around the world in the capital and give us the opportunity to try her delicious food.

Reygadas, hailing from Mexico City, began her training at the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New york. This was the only the start of her gastronomic as she was soonheading across the pond to work alongside top chefs in leading London kitchens including, Locanda Locatelli with chef Girogio Locatelli. This developmentled hertowards her deep penchant for classic Italian cuisine. She stayed in London for 5 years before returning to her native soil to launch Rosetta, a beautiful and elegant restaurant in the city’s upscale Romadistrict. The area also lends itself suitablyto the magnificent history of the country so the restauarnt has followed suit with its modern rustic feel. It wasn’t long before the restaurant became acclaimed as one of the finest dining establishments in the whole of Mexico’s capital.

After all this success, and we hope much more to come, FOURcatch up with Elena ahead of the Lyle’s collaboration to see what makes this woman one to watch out for.

What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?

My paternal grandmother was a great cook, she often invited us to restaurants and she always dared us to get the strangest thing in the menu, to be bold and try new flavors. On the other hand, my mom was a superb hostess, she enjoyed immensely having people over. That was a big influence on my taste for cooking. Until one day, I realized that was what I enjoyed most doing: cooking and serving food.

I get a lot of my inspiration for cooking in self-knowledge; I like to understand what I like, what seduces me. I think I like to experiment with new flavors, but also with classical flavors. I love to emphasize the apparent simplicity of something I consider fascinating, like bread, or thenixtamalizationprocess, or the taste of a fruit pit.

Tell us about yourcollaboration with Lyle’s London…

I met James a few years ago in Mexico, I think he’s a very sensitive man.When I tasted his Lyles menu, I realized he conveyed this sensibility through his dishes. Elegant, and pristine food. His flavor mixes are genius. I am very excited to be able to cook with him.

Are you taking your entire team with you to cook in London?

No, not all the team, just a few of us.

What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at the restaurant?

Of course a pleasurable experience, but also, something to challenge them: to dare them to be braver when they ear, to look for and be interested in new flavors. To explore. Although, I must say, I don’t like to provoke just for the sake of it; more like sharing my emotion regarding what certain food can provoke in us, as human beings. For instance, an insect, something that is terrible for some, but a delicacy for others.I am interested in the discovery and the emotion of finding something. To share with others the satisfaction I find in a successful dish.

Have you decided on the menu?

The menu was decided between a mix of seasonal Mexican flavors and seasonal English produce.

What excites you about Mexico’s food culture right now?

I think Mexico’s culinary culture is huge, In terms of variety is really something else, but that’s quite logical: it’s a country with an astonishing biodiversity, and a fascinating, tumultuous history, packed with cultural interchanges that have favored a lot of dynamism and variety. There was a solid platform for the emergence of this vigorous contemporary scene, something that has really surfaced in the last years, when a lot of chefs became the owners of their restaurants, which in turn effected a change in terms of quality, and shined light on another way of thinking about food. In this sense, Mexico is going through a very interesting moment, a moment of reflection and proposals, where diversity and quality are common denominators. This has also helped to entice more prepared, demanding and curious guests.

How do you create a new menu and what’s the creative process behind this?

The new menu is designed a bit following whatever is in season. We take it from there. Then, there we do some work, we imagine, or conceptualize; this is where we “think” the dishes, this later is structured around tastings, and we adjust and taste again. It’s an exploration and search process, where the dialogue among team members is fundamental.

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

I don’t have any favorites. I work with whatever I have and I am always looking for new stuff. However, I can say that right now, the ingredients that I find more appealing are cereals, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

What do you gain as a chef from collaborations such as this one?

I think in general terms, every collaborative process is extremely enriching. By working like this, you inevitable will establish a dialogue, and this for me is one of the most efficient mechanisms to foster creativity.On the other hand, the exchange of experiences and ideas that result from this kind of meetings is just extraordinaire.

Do you have any future collaboration’s lined-up with other chefs or events?

Yes I have an exciting event with James Lowe thiscoming September.

How is your restaurant, Rosetta, doing?

Fortunately, things are going great. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I don`t have to face daily challenges and problems, it’s just part of the business.

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

Not one in special. Fortunately, there are many, both in Mexico and outside of the country.

Find out more informationabout Lyle’shere |lyleslondon.com

Find out more information about Rosetta here |www.facebook.com