Alex Padilla of Taberna Mexicana
Chef Alex Padilla may be new to the Valley, but not to the kitchen; he's currently donning his apron at Taberna Mexicana in Scottsdale. Padilla recently moved here from Houston, where he was raised, to open Ninfa's Mexican Kitchen, in Glendale, and now Taberna (in Scottsdale Seville, Roy's former spot). The menu is heavily influenced by Central America as opposed to Mexico, and Padilla brings a background in French/New American cuisine; he worked alongside Nancy Oakes, a James Beard Award Winner who named him Executive Sous Chef of her famed San Francisco eatery Boulevard. Padilla's diversified heritage and culinary training lends something new to Mexican cuisine. He sat down with us to share his story.
Roots: I'm originally from Honduras, but I grew up in Houston, Texas. I have a traditional Hispanic family. My mom worked long days and would return home to cook for my sisters, which I started to do later. My father loved cooking, but he was more of a home cook. He liked doing things like grilling up a whole fish.
I heart Phoenix: I have fallen in love with this city. It's one of the most beautiful cities I've seen. The weather is excellent. The summer time here is like the summer time in Houston; it's just a different heat. It doesn't bother me at all.
Mother knows best: My mom is a chef. She worked for Ninfa's in Houston, which is the most famous Tex-Mex restaurant in the city, or maybe even in all of Texas. Ninfa's is an institution in Houston. I got in the business because of her.
Learn Padilla's favorite menu item after the jump.
Favorite menu item: The Cochinita Pibil is something I really enjoy cooking here. It's pork shoulder marinated in achiote paste in a banana leaf for 48 hours. It's served with pickled red onions, fried plantains and Mexican crema.
Biggest pain in the ass to cook: For me, nothing really. I make everything with love. Cooking is what I do for a living, so if I don't love it, I'm in the wrong business.
If not this, then: I used to work as a contractor before this, so I would probably still be doing that.
Hobbies: I love fishing. I love the water. I don't fish around here, but I used to fish in the Sacramento River, the Russian River and the Delta River in California. Right now I'm really tied up with the restaurant so I haven't made my way around Arizona.
Tune in tomorrow for Padilla's thoughts on traditional Mexican fare and his recipe for Cochinita Pibil.
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