Chef Enrique Olvera is one of the hottest cooks in New York City, and his modern Mexican eatery Cosme has garnered rave reviews since it opened late last year. Olvera also operates a few restaurants in Mexico, and his first English-language cookbook will hit shelves this fall. Vogue writer Tamar Adler profiled the chef, analyzing what makes Olvera so successful. Below, the 10 best lines:
1. Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, introducing Olvera: "Meet one of the best chefs in the world, and the person who least wants me to call him that."
2. Adler on the sustained popularity of Olvera's flagship Mexico City restaurant: "Pujol, even at 15 years old, is as hard to get into as Rapunzel's high tower."
3. Chef Ferran Adrià on how Olvera has changed a genre: "There was Mexican food before Enrique Olvera, and Mexican food after Enrique Olvera."
4. Adler, agreeing with Adrià's assessment of Olvera's cooking: "I experience what diners 15 years ago, with tolerant but not passionate feelings toward what they'd thought of as 'Italian food,' may have felt the first time they tasted the cooking of Mario Batali or Michael White."
5. Adler on the reasons behind Olvera's transformative cuisine: "What distinguishes Cosme from all — and from Rosa Mexicano and Dos Caminos in New York, or Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, which lean toward fusion cuisine served by waiters obliged to make guacamole tableside — is Enrique's culinary credibility. Enrique isn't "inspired by" Mexican food. It is his soil and his roots."
6. Olvera on vacuum sealing as a cooking method: "Fuck sous vide. I hate plastic."
7. Olvera on his disdain for culinary staples such as tomato concassé, symmetrical knife work, and sugar: "It is the worst fucking invention in the world." ... "There are no squares in nature. It's fucking stupid." ... "They say sugar is worse for you than cocaine. I'm going to take dessert off the menu at Pujol."
8. Chef Alice Waters on Olvera's ability to be more than a cook: "Enrique gets it. He's a celebrity chef, and he knows he has ways, through food, of saving his culture."
9. Olvera on the difficulty of balancing family life with a chef's schedule: "You want to hear something sad? My youngest son, Aldo, went to a friend's house and asked the father where he lived, and the father said, "Here; why?" And Aldo said, ‘Because my father lives in a restaurant.'" ... "I really enjoy all of this. But sometimes I wonder if it's worth not being with them."
10. Olvera on the necessity to keep cuisine simple: "Food is a way of communicating. I think a lot of modern chefs think that cooking is more an art form and about ideas. I don't."