Mexican Fiesta with Chef Alam Méndez Florián

Saturday Sep 15 19:00    
Marking Mexico’s annual Independence Month celebrations, this September Mexican restaurateur and San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year semi-finalist, Alam Méndez Florián, is teaming up with the Mexican Embassy for a series of dinners happening across Joburg and Pretoria.

Guests can enjoy Florián's award-winning take on Mexican and Oaxacan classics including a fantastic ceviche made with plenty of lime and cucumbers, red onion, a hint of garlic and topped with the freshest coriander and avocado that he hopes to help find their way onto the permanent menus of the restaurants he'll be visiting - we've already tried it ourselves at Calexico at 44 Stanley and it definitely has our stamp of approval! 

Wed Sep 12 at 18:00 Modern Mexican Fiesta dinner at Prue Leith Chefs Academy (262 Rhino Avenue
Centurion). Tickets cost R385, email or call +27 12 654 5203 to book.
Thu Sep 13 at 19:00 Salsa Mexican Grill dinner at Salsa Mexican Grill Loftus ( 416 Kirkness Ave, Arcadia, Pretoria). Dinner costs R250, call +27 10 020 8598 to book.
Sat Sep 15 at 19:00 Salsa Mexican Grill dinner at Salsa Mexican Grill, Rivonia Village centre, Rivonia. Dinner costs R250, call +27 10 020 8598 to book.

Interview with Alam Méndez Florián

Ahead of Florián's Mexican Fiesta dinner series, we went to visit the chef as he got to work in the kitchen at Calexico to learn about the inspiration behind his dishes.  

What was the first dish that you cooked as a child?
Well I remember that when I was a child, I would sometimes fight with my brother to make the guacamole for the dinner. My mom used to often make us beef tacos, and we would always fight about who got to make the guacamole!

Your parents are both restaurateurs and your mom Celía Florian is the chef and owner of Oaxaca’s renowned 15 Letras restaurant - what is the best cooking tip she gave you?
She emphasised how important it is to get involved in the sourcing of your products. If you know where the products come from, how fresh they are, how to manipulate them - then the cooking process becomes very easy.

People often say that Mexican food outside of Mexico is not always authentic - what’s the one dish that non-Mexicans get wrong most often?
The tacos. Tacos are not those crispy tortillas with sour cream and ground meat. We've made tacos to be lots of things. The tortillas can be stuffed with meat, vegetables - anything - and even served as a side. But, traditional tacos are made with soft tortillas, tacos aren't meant to be like those crispy shells! 

Ceviche features prominently on your menu for your South African trip - do you have any tips on how to make it at home?
It is best if you can get the very freshest fish or prawns - it's nice when it has that little hint of saltiness to it having come from the ocean. Then juice lime juice, green chilli peppers, cucumber, fresh coriander and a little garlic. It only needs to be in the juice for two or three minutes before serving, personally I like to enjoy it very raw. In Mexico we often use the big fish from the Pacific like mahi-mahi. Sea bass or prawns is also good. I've even made it with very fresh mussels. 

How would you describe typical Mexican cuisine in three words?
Mix, corn and love. It’s a mix of a lot of cultures, it’s based on corn and as with any cuisine, you do have to love to do it right.
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Sep 12 2018 18:00
Sep 13 2018 19:00
Sep 15 2018 19:00
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