How many times you can have the opportunity to rediscover and explore New York from the hand of one of the most renowned chefs in Mexico? I experienced this recently with Daniel Ovadia traveling to this great city and, as it happens to many people who do not live there, I discovered that despite the many trips, it’s never enough to know its history and its people.
As part of Celebrate Mexico Now Festival, the Mexico Tourism Board in NY asked me to find a Mexican cook or chef to give a cooking demonstration and a tasting menu for a number of festival goers at the St Jones University that opened its doors to carry out this presentation.
My decision for Daniel was undoubtedly the most successful for this project, his 15-courses tasting menu from Chiapas cuisine –a regional cuisine little known in the United States– and has all the elements that lead us inland to a culture that is rich in gastronomy and allowed us to surprise the over 100 attendees.
Without minimizing the great opportunity and responsibility to carry out this presentation, the most enjoyment of this trip was meeting Daniel Ovadia in a personal way and share his stories from pan to plate of the places we visited these days.
Jew, Judas, this is how his friends call Daniel, and with great pride replied to this name because it is someone who follows the traditions of their religion very seriously, and so it is that we took our first meal out in one of the most emblematic restaurants in New York for the traditional food of the Jewish community that settled in this city: Carnegie Deli, established since 1937.
Daniel taught us there the small dishes her mother prepares for the holidays, and would not have been better days as it was about to be Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. Moved by the plates perhaps, by memories perhaps, the conversation flowed on how Daniel came to the kitchen and between very difficult exams in college –Daniel is a graduate from ITAM known for the strictness of its educational program– got his title and then confirmed that his way was the food.
With the support of his father, Daniel was able to open his first restaurant in San Angel Paxia, and he was determined not to not fail because that was his rightful inheritance given in advance and if lost would have no financial support. Today his dad has become partner and Daniel has not only multiplied his inheritance, he shares the fruits of their work with those who gave him the opportunity to achieve his dream.
You may read it as easy, but in these 6 years, Daniel and his team had to go through very difficult times, which out of respect to his trust I will not repeat, but believe me this group is made of full confidence, strength but above all loyalty.
In these 5 days I wasn’t able to convince Daniel to teach Ricardo Carrillo to learn his way around the subway. Best known as Cacus, Ricardo is the Corporate Chef for DO Group (Daniel Ovadia Group), so during the trip there was only the option of walking a lot and get taxis at rush hours, but today I see that was a good choice because we could go talking of what we found in our way, and the times in which Daniel lived in New York working as a cook.
But Daniel is a great host when he takes the control of this trip, and as a reward Cacus and I were invited to taste the special menu of L’Atelier by Joel Robuchon. It is clear Daniel’s great admiration for this place because from the Maitre’D to the waiter recognized him and we were there long time after the place was closed.
Dean & Deluca, Carte & Barrel, Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods were the must of this trip, I witnessed many of the machines, dishes and other kitchen utensils that today are in the Paxia’s kitchens for better preparation and presentation of their dishes. And then, there was the big surprise of finding ingredients that despite being Mexican, even in Mexico City are very hard to get and, trust me when I tell you, NY has lots of them!
Could this be motivation enough to bring Daniel to New York for a longer time? That and the fact that one of his greatest dreams is to return to live there now with his own space …. life can give you big surprises!
Visit the photo album of this trip giving click here