We spoke to Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil ahead of his appearance at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival in April 2016. He told us what he would be making at his MasterClass, and shared notes from the kitchen of his renowned Mexico City restaurant.
Your restaurant in Mexico City is riding high at number 12 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list [as of February 2017]. What's Quintonil all about, Jorge?
We try to represent Mexican gastronomy from a contemporary point of view using local products, our culture and heritage. Some of our dishes use products that have been marginalised or forgotten, because they're considered food for the poor people. That's where we start - being proud of what we are and what defines us.
What's your favourite dish on the menu?
We have a chia soup with green peas, lard and lettuce. It's so simple, but that's the thing: it's delicious, healthy and it has soul.
How does a renowned locavore plan for a MasterClass at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival?
I have the good fortune that one of my sous-chefs, Ross McCombe, is Australian, so he has a good knowledge of what's in season.
What Australian produce are you looking forward to cooking with?
I'm very interested in the seafood and, in particular, kangaroo. I'll be trying to pair it all with wines, which fascinates me.
Do Australians have the right idea about Mexican food?
We have more and more Australians coming to the restaurant; they're so interested about what's going on in the Mexican culinary scene. Most of the time, people think Mexican food is Tex-Mex, and it's a totally different thing. It's very difficult to export because it uses a lot of native ingredients. It's so broad and diverse - more a collection of regional cuisines.
What else do you plan to do with your time here?
I want to learn as much as I can. I'll be visiting Brae and Attica, and Jock Zonfrillo, of Orana, is a good friend. I can't wait to try this world-class chef's cuisine.