At the Mexican food fest, chefs Antonio and Lars discuss taste expectations of guests

The kitchen in the Dining Room at The Park Hyatt has a new face. And everything is new for this new face. Just a day old in the city, Mexican Chef Antonio Herrera Gomez says everything is new, including the ingredients to be used for cooking and the colleagues he is working with. “I feel like I am starting a new restaurant and since I want it all in the way it is done in Mexico I am ending up doing everything on my own. I have a lot of help but we are all used to working differently. Today being my first day, I decided to demonstrate to speed up work. In a couple of days my colleagues will get the hang of it,” says Antonio.

Antonio is in Hyderabad for the Mexican food fest at The Park Hyatt and says he began his food tasting session on a happy note. “I was offered the most commonly enjoyed beer in Mexico so I am looking at something more Indian to drink. I also tried Indian food and the similarity I could find is the use of chilli. However, we do not let the pungency of the chilli to overtake the taste of food. Things are different here and a lot depends on the food habits of the people,” says the chef who is also a marine biologist by degree.

Antonio’s parents wanted him to do something different, so he picked up marine biology because he loves sharks and dolphins. But all this while he realised he had a fancy for the kitchen and cooking what his mother usually cooked. When he revealed his wish to his parents, he was given no choice but to continue his marine biology. “So, I did my ‘study in cooking’ simultaneously. Now I use my knowledge of marine biology in the kitchen to asses my meats and fishes,” he laughs.

As he chats over nachos and some cold non-vegetarian starters which included a Mexican ceviche trio, a dish made of green ceviche, shrimp ceviche and octopus ceviche, Antonio suggests that the mojito with jalepeno and avocado should be tried. His dips for the nachos consist of one avocado dip, an over roasted tomato dip and one chopped tomato dip. As Antonio chats chef LarsWindfuhr, the executive chef at The Park Hyatt joins to take a feedback of the guests’ response from Antonio. Lars also explained to Antonio the expectations the guests have about the taste and how sometimes that expectation leads to disappointment.

“In such cases we usually chat with them to understand what the guest was looking for. Then we offer to prepare a dish as per the expectation. It is a common situation and as chefs we are trained to deal such situations. As expat chefs we need to understand the palate of the local guests. Guests are used to certain flavours and expect that almost always. It is important to explain the final product so that the guest will have a fair idea of what to expect when he places an order,” says Lars.

The Mexican food fest, Lars assures, boasts of a lot dishes that are prepared in the way it is done in Mexican homes.

“Roadside food is a big hit in Mexico and most plush restaurants are adopting those dishes. It is an instant hit,” says Antonio. As a sample he serves Esquites—stew corn kernels, epazote served with lime and chilli powder. It is a dish that will make you cry in happiness. And no it is nothing like the steamed sweet corn which we eat from cups here.

The Mexican fest ends on March 24.