City Bites

CITY BITES LIVE: Highlights from our Mexican cooking class; Umami is up next

Chef Francisco Alejandri grew up in Guanajuato, Mexico. His mission is to prove his native cuisine goes beyond tacos and nachos

Last week, as part of Ottawa Magazine’s City Bites Live series, I hosted a special evening at Urban Element designed to introduce an enthusiastic group of home cooks, from armchair to serious, to the pleasures of genuine Mexican soul food. Expectations soared when Chef Francisco Alejandri  started the class by saying: “I am 100 percent sure you will never see food like this in a restaurant.”

Alejandri is the owner of what can only be described as a gourmet Mexican food stall, Agave y Aguacate, tucked away in Toronto’s Kensington Market. During the three-hour class, he introduced us to six simple, but spectacular Mexican dishes featuring beautiful fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, and cilantro from Castlegarth Restaurant’s farm in White Lake, Ontario. Alejandri was the guest chef at Castlegarth the night before — he and the owner, Matthew Brearley, happen to be good friends from their Stratford Chefs School days. (Here’s a secret: we can expect to see Alejandri assisting Brearley at Gold Medal Plates in Ottawa this year). (more…)