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Magical moments for the palate – a Mexican in Barcelona

By: Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Ever since he cooked his way to a star at Albert Adrià’s Hoja Santa restaurant in Barcelona, Paco Méndez has been an ambassador for Mexican cuisine in Spain. Then Hoja Santa fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic – together with every Albert Adrià restaurant in the city. Now the Mexican chef is opening his own restaurant. KTCHNrebel met up with the talented chef for a chat.

Watch the entire video-interview with Paco Méndez:

Mexican moles made from 50 different vegetables

Paco Méndez’s dark eyes light up when he talks about the cuisine of his home country Mexico. “The salsas, the moles …” he says with enthusiasm. He particularly likes one particular mole, which has around 50 ingredients and a lot of different vegetables. It was the signature of Hoja Santa and a typical example of the imaginative cuisine of the restaurant that excited critics and connoisseurs alike. But let’s go back to the beginning.

It all started with an internship at El Bulli

It all started in 2008 when the young Paco Méndez completed an internship at Ferran Adrià’s world-famous restaurant El Bulli. This is where he met Albert Adrià, Ferran’s equally gifted brother and his most important idea generator. The two of them hit it off, and when Albert Adrià came to Mexico years later for a book presentation, they had a happy reunion. And came up with a plan. The former intern, long since a respected chef, was slated to open a Mexican restaurant with Albert Adrià – in Barcelona, where the Spaniard owned a small gastronomy empire.

Delicious looking Avocado on a black garlic Mole

Image: COME | Paco Méndez

A new star chef for Barcelona

The task was immense. After all, these restaurants had already earned several stars when Paco Méndez came onto the scene in 2014. Besides, the new restaurant was actually a double location, consisting of there gourmet restaurant Hoja Santa and Taqueria Niño Viejo, where casual street food was served. Albert Adrià would not regret that he chose Paco Méndez: As early as 2015, the young Mexican himself earned a star and proved more than up to the task.

 

Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an

 

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Paco Méndez (@pacomendezv)

And he loves Barcelona. “Barcelona is something like the European Miami,” he raves. He likes this mix of different cultures, and the many artists. “Designers, painters, sculptors …”, he says. “That’s why many people come to Barcelona.” But first and foremost they come for the gastronomy. “There’s something about Barcelona’s cuisine,” he says. “Above all, it is a product of the environment.”

The mask of the Mexican wrestlers

 

Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an

 

Ein Beitrag geteilt von ROLLING PIN (@rollingpin.co)

But he loves Mexican cuisine the most. When asked where he gets his inspiration from far away from his homeland, the answer simply gushes out of him: the people, the culture, the food. “People in my country always eat well,” he says. He is also inspired by traditional recipes. “Perhaps your grandmother is making this very special mole for a party or a friend,” he says.

He is convinced there is something magical about his country’s gastronomic culture. This enthusiasm helped Paco Méndez to survive the difficult time after the restaurant closed. Giving up is not an option. Méndez is a fighter who likes to pose with the colourful masks of traditional Mexican wrestlers. He values this historic combat sport as part of Mexican culture and happily identifies with it.

Perhaps I can be a wrestler and a chef.Paco Méndez about himself

A place like a cozy Mexican house

Paco Méndez with his wife in his new restaurant "Come"

Image: COME | Paco Méndez

And now he is back, with his own restaurant. COME will be the name. COME like Cocina Mexicana. Like “comer” (to come). Like “to come.” And like the center letters of “Paco Méndez”. The new concept is based on Hoja Santa’s more than 500 recipes and can even be found at the same address. The interior has been completely redesigned and is reminiscent of a cozy Mexican home.

The interior of the COME looks like a typical mexican furnished dining room

Image: COME | Paco Méndez

Lunch and dinner will be served here from Wednesday to Saturday, and it will feature an a la carte offer along with a fixed menus. 25 to 30 guests can be served at lunchtime, while the evening service concept is designed for 35 to 40 guests. Next door, where Niño Viejo used to be, people gather for Mexican cooking classes and other events. This part of COME can also be used for private dinner events. The spring opening time is approaching, and Paco Méndez’s anticipation is huge. “It makes us happy to prepare food for you,” he writes on his Instagram page. “Come and experience magical moments with us again.”

Have a look at these two amazing female chefs:

Star chef: Antonia Klugmann

Legend of the Italian Top Cuisine: Nadia Santini

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