With PBS show, book, Pati Jinich makes regional Mexican cuisine accessible for American cooks
Pati Jinich didn’t grow up to be a chef, although she comes from a family of accomplished cooks. She dedicated her life to politics until seven years ago when she decided she would celebrate and demystify Mexican recipes “without compromising their soul.”
A cooking teacher, host of the public television series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” food writer and the official chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., Jinich (Hee-nitch) will be in Austin for a cooking workshop at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Central Market on North Lamar Boulevard. Tickets cost $80, which includes a copy of her new book, “Pati’s Mexican Table,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30) and are available at centralmarket.com.
“Like all Mexican families, mine is very comelona,” she explained of their deep love for food as she reminisced about growing up in Mexico City in a family of Jewish Mexicans. “During the week, we worked hard and ate in a rush. But weekends were devoted to finding the ingredients we liked at the markets and to making and eating antojitos (cravings).”
Recommended for you
Recommended for you
Recommended for you
Although her mother is primary cook, her father’s culinary creations are not to be passed, she says. Her older sister taught cooking and had a catering business since she was very young, and now she manages a restaurant in Mexico City. Another sister is the owner of Alisa’s Painted Bistro and a food trailer in Miami, and the other is a vegetarian who has written books on healthy food. So, it should have been no surprise that Pati would eventually join them, although that was a result of a crossroads seven years ago.
Jinich moved with her husband to Dallas and lived there for a few years before moving to Washington, where she served as a political analyst and completed her master’s degree in Latin American studies at Georgetown University.
The shift from politics to food was complex. “It was a very hard decision, because I had invested so many years studying for one thing,” she says. But eventually she followed her husband’s prodding and support to dedicate herself to her passion. Her parents didn’t wholeheartedly accept her choice of “discarding decades of education to be in a kitchen washing dishes,” as her father told her.
Another motivation that fueled her was her three young sons, and the example she was setting. In life we “build one block after another, believing that we are on the right path, and it is hard to imagine having to start again from block one,” she explains. “I wanted to show my sons that one accepts the zigzags in life. Challenges never end, but you can always find your way.”
She fills the days exploring complex regional recipes and finding ways to simplify techniques, ensuring that flavor and outcome are not compromised. She traded the focus of her research from politics to researching ingredients, testing, cooking and sharing her knowledge and love of Mexican cuisine via her public TV show, her blog (patismexicantable.com) and now her first cookbook, which comes out this week.
— Josefina Casati
Festival, Cookbook Create team up for official SXSW community cookbook
The New York-based print-on-demand website CookbookCreate.com is working with South by Southwest to collect more than 100 recipes from past SXSW speakers to create “The Official 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival Cookbook,” a community cookbook that will be available for sale at next year’s event.
Anna Curran, the website’s founder, has been coming to the interactive festival for several years. As she and her team were putting the finishing touches on the website, which allows users to upload recipes and photos and helps them design and lay out their own books, she saw an opportunity to use recipes to help tell the story of what has become one of the world’s largest technology events.
“When I attended SXSW for the first time, I was struck by the vibrant, interesting community. These were the people who are making the culture we live in, and I wanted to share that spirit with the world,” she said in a news release.
Hugh Forrest, SXSW Interactive Festival director, says that the event, at its heart, celebrates creativity, and cooking is just one area “where this innovation manifests itself.”
Some of the confirmed participants include past speakers Tara Hunt; Startup Weekend CEO Marc Nager; Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer; “How to Be Black” author Baratunde Thurston; and Amy Webb, author of “Data, A Love Story.”
CookbookCreate.com doesn’t officially launch until later this month, but you can sign up on the website to get notified when you can log in and start making your own book. Curran says her vision for the website to that everyone from aspiring cookbook writers to chefs and families could create a collection of their recipes to share with others, be it a wedding gift, birthday present, family reunion memento or blog-to-book keepsaver.
Paul Qui curates trailers for SouthBites food truck park
South by Southwest tapped “Top Chef” winner Paul Qui to curate a selection of food trucks for SouthBites, a nine-day food truck park that is open to the public starting Friday at the corner of Driskill and Rainey streets.
Qui, who runs a set of food trailers called East Side King and is putting the finishing touches on his restaurant Qui, picked food truck gems from around the state, and even one from Ohio, to serve food from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday through March 16.
Unlike many of the other official SXSW food events, SouthBites is open to the public. (No admission fee, but bring cash for the food trucks.)
The participating Austin trucks are Cazamance, East Side King, Chi’lantro, Dock & Roll Diner, Hey Cupcake!, Sugar Shack BBQ, the Peached Tortilla and the Seedling Truck. Foreign & Domestic will add a temporary trailer extension of its brick-and-mortar restaurant for the event.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, the food truck from Ohio ice cream superstar Jeni Britton Bauer, will also be at the event, as will Phamily Bites and the Waffle Bus from Houston, DUK Truck from San Antonio chef Jason Dady and the Butcher’s Son from Dallas.
In other Qui news, the former Uchiko chef is hosting the first event in his restaurant Qui at 6:30 p.m. March 21. (The restaurant at 1600 E. Sixth St. isn’t scheduled to open until April.) The fundraiser dinner for the Austin Food & Wine Alliance is part of the nonprofit’s Wine & Dine Series. Tickets cost $250, with $100 going to the AFWA’s grant program, and will be available for sale starting Thursday at austinfoodwinealliance.org.
Les Dames culinary scholarship deadline is March 25
The Austin chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International will give out $8,000 in scholarships to local female culinary students this spring. To apply for one of the four $2,000 scholarships, download the application at ldeiaustin.org. The application deadline is March 25.