Yesterday we began our talk with chef and owner of Los Sombreros in Scottsdale Azucena Tovar.
An avid traveler who returns to her home country several times a year, Tovar strives to ensure her menu accurately reflects the ever-changing face of Mexican cuisine. Tovar, who grew up in central Mexico, says she's fortunate to have roots in the most cosmopolitan part of the country, allowing her an insider's view into the evolution of her country's fare.
Her desire to offer an avant-garde dining experience comes as no surprise when you ask Tovar about her self-identity as a restaurant owner and chef. Tovar -- who's been approached by the Food Network to have her own show not once, but twice -- is under no illusions about her abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
"Do I know what I'm doing? Yes. Do I like food? Yes. Do I like to travel? Yes. Can I do all that without being a chef? Yes. Would I have chosen to be a chef? No. I mean, that's the truth."
Unlike so many in the business, her passion for offering the newest, greatest, and best cuisine comes with none of the artistic sensitivity that can cause even the most inventive of chefs to drown in the practical concerns of running and owning a restaurant.
Her philosophy, simply put: Be the best, and people will come.
"I like to do fun things. And I like to kick-butt. If I'm going to do something, it better be unique, it better be different. I like to think of Los Somberos and being ahead of her time for Arizona. I like to bring things that nobody has because everything else, it has been done."
"I dance to the song of my market," she adds. "I'm here to serve them."
But her no-nonsense attitude about successful restaurant management doesn't mean she lacks passion for her craft. Tovar, who calls herself a "sommelier of food," speaks passionately and articulately about the flavor and food, and her infectious excitement catches on quickly.
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"I like intensity and I like simplicity, but I think intensity and simplicity go hand in hand. If you start mixing too much, you lose the essence of the dish. Sometimes purity gives you the intensity, the punch," says Tovar.
"I simply want people to know I have a very advanced menu. The latest Mexican food that, unless you go to Mexico six times a year and have inside information, you can't get to it."
Check back tomorrow when we'll share Tovar's recipe for Hibiscus Enchiladas.