Chef News

Alex Padilla of Taberna, Part Two

Yesterday we spoke with Alex Padilla of Taberna Mexicana and today our conversation continues...

Honduran-born Padilla is notably health-conscious -- nothing on Taberna's menu is smothered in cheese and rice and beans are not automatic. Padilla tells us he is appreciative of all different types of cuisine and it is reflected in his cooking.

Chopping alonside a James Beard Award winner: She (Nancy Oakes) was one of the best chefs I've ever seen in my career - she was my mentor. French/New American cuisine was her specialty and it became mine.

No messing around: I don't like junk food. I like to go to the farmer's market on a weekly basis and pick local product. I wish we had more local farmer's markets here.

Chef heroes: One of the guys I really, really respect a lot is Thomas Keller of the French Laundry.

Taberna should be know for: I think people will appreciate the fact that we cook everything from scratch. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu. The only way you can go wrong is by choosing not to try something.

Find out what ingredient sets Taberna apart from other local Mexican restaurants after the jump.

The lard that lurks: People don't understand that Mexican food is not just about beans and rice. Taberna's menu is definitely healthier. I respect other styles of cooking, but the lard part is what grosses me out. When you go to other Mexican restaurants you're eating a lot of that. Whatever you eat, you're going to walk away feeling like you ate 20 pounds of food, which is the reason why we use olive oil - it may be ten times more money, but you're eating right.

Mangia! I really love Italian food. It is some of the best the world has to offer. I have not had a chance to eat anything great in Phoenix yet, but I hope to soon.

Props to the locals: I really enjoyed the food over at The Mission. The chef (Matt Carter) seems to know what he's doing. The decor is nice too - there's this really cool wall in there that is lit from the back.

Your last meal: That would be dessert: tres leches cake.

Be sure to follow up tomorrow for Padilla's recipe for Cochinita Pibil and skip back to part one if you missed it yesterday.