America Corrales wasn't exactly playing hooky; she was checking up on her restaurant.
The full-time teacher and owner of America's Taco Shop decided it was time to pack up her first grade classroom last year and focus on her Downtown taco shop.
The buzz that used to be in her classroom holds nothing to her new second home, where carne asada and tables are in high demand.
America's no stranger to cooking for large crowds; the youngest of six children says she started cooking for her family as far back as she can remember. And in addition to the dozens of people who frequent her now two locations (Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue), she also cooks for her own family of four and tries out new recipes on the weekends.
Chef Corrales stops in with us this week to dish on her culinary-inspired youth and a few things she wants to put on her summer menu ...
Personal Style: I cook very traditional food from my hometown, Culiacán (in Sinaloa, Mexico). Every Mexican state has very different style with very different ingredients. I grew up eating corn tortillas and not putting pico de gallo in my tacos. I do the same in the restaurant.
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Inspirations: absolutely my mother. I remember being little and asking her questions and she would tell me about what she was doing or what she needed to add next. She would let me taste things so that I could understand what the process. It's funny because I do the same with my daughters now, so every time I'm in the kitchen at home with them, it brings me back to my childhood.
Advice: my husband's background is in restaurants, so to us it made sense to open a restaurant using both of our skills. But it's been very stressful. I think people need to know that dealing with a staff and making sure everything is up to standard is challenging, but if you can find the right combination of people, it makes all the difference.
Favorite Tool: Right now, it's the barbecue. We're getting in the summer mood, so we're playing with different barbecue recipes to spice things up a little and get ready for the heat.
(This was part one of our interview with Chef America Corrales of America's Taco Shop. Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Corrales tomorrow and a recipe on Thursday.)