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La Buena Mesa With Chef Roberto Santibañez

Roberto Santibañez is a Mexican-born, French-trained and award-winning chef that knows a thing or two about a good home-cooked meal. Roberto Santibañez's culinary journey began with the influence of his grandmother, a "world traveler" who taught him to go beyond the recipe box when preparing a tasty dish.

His classical culinary training was acquired at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France followed by a two-year stay at the Henbury Estate in Cheshire, England as Executive Chef. He later "rediscovered" the complexities of Mexican food when he took on a position at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Mexico City. Following his heart, he combined all of his gastronomical experiences and became executive chef of Fonda San Miguel in Austin, Texas, followed by a position of Culinary Director for New York City's Rosa Mexicano. In 2009, Santibañez opened his own Restaurant, Fonda, in Brooklyn, New York and Manhattan and is President of Truly Mexican Consulting.

Adding the title of author to his curriculum, Santibañez published Rosa's New Mexican Table, a James Beard award nominee and Truly Mexican, one of The New York Times and Epicurious listings for best cookbooks of 2011.

Now, his third book: Tacos, Tortas and Tamales, Flavors from the Griddles, Pots and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico focuses on the simple yet flavorful Mexican meals we all love. Known as "street food" to some foreigners and "home cooking" to others, Santibañez shows us how to recreate these awe-inspiring dishes in our own kitchen and within our budget. Using few and fresh ingredients, these easy-to-follow recipes will leave you obsessed with wanting to prepare everything this cookbook has to offer. Recipes vary from duck tacos in habanero cream sauce to a simple tequila-raisin ice cream.

Más: Ensalada de Tacos, Limón y Chipotle

We had the opportunity to ask Chef Santibañez a few questions about his cooking style, ideas to keep our menu fresh and affordable, and his current projects.

What is your favorite food memory with your grandmother?

One day she made me some scrambled eggs with nopales that I still remember (this is one memory of many because she was an amazing cook.)

What was your favorite food moment in Europe?

Making sauce Béarnaise for the first time in Paris with Chef Simon.

Tell us about your latest project.

I just opened Salvation Taco on 39th Street in New York City. It's a collaboration with my top-notch chef April Bloomfield and it has been an incredible journey! I love what is coming out of that kitchen!

Can you give us some ideas or tips on easy and affordable ways to make healthy and traditional Latin American dishes?

Go for the salsas, or sauces, the majority of them are based on chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos and fresh herbs. Small amounts are needed to make your dishes flavorful and healthy.

What was your inspiration behind your latest cookbook, "Tacos, Tortas and Tamales"?

I was born and raised in Mexico City, so I grew up eating all these foods like a hotdog torta!

What is your favorite street food to enjoy curbside with a refreshing lemonade or tall soft drink?

Tacos al pastor.

What is your favorite Mexican herb to cook with? What dish do you feature this herb in?

Epazote, featured in the Mushroom Tacos recipe.

If you had the opportunity to educate someone that knows nothing about Mexican food, what would you say?

A good starting point is to learn all about chile varieties available. Learn how to buy them, how to use them and what makes them different from one another.

Any future projects in the works that you can tell us about?

I am planning a great new book and will be opening a new concept that has nothing to do with Mexican food! Can you believe it? Yes, but I am loving every moment of it!

Más: Sopa Fácil de Pollo y Tortilla

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