We're running a monthly series called "Food for Thought," in-depth conversations with groundbreakers who run farms, restaurants, wineries, breweries and bars around California and are shaking up the way we eat and drink.
Our third talk is with "Los Autenticos," four well-known restaurateurs known for their Mexican cuisine. All of them have opened up new hotspots in Sacramento during the past year, and they're intent on serving authentic food and drink the way it should be prepared -- and serving it up in settings that reinforce the fact you are indeed eating the "real" thing.
To get an early start on celebrating Mexico's Independence Day, we talked with the four señores at Casa de Español, a great place to celebrate Latin American culture, to hear how their cultural roots and backgrounds led them to their present roles as Sacramento's ambassadors of Mexican cuisine.
* Art Aguilar and Max Archuleta - this dynamic duo teamed up to open the open-air Midtown's Cantina Alley in February, an immediate hit.
* Ernesto Delgado - A native of Napa, he came for school in Sacramento, where he learned to appreciate Latino culture. He started with Tequila Museo Mayahuel, then La Cosecha on Cesar Chavez Plaza, and Mesa Mercado in Carmichael's Milagro Centre.
* Lisandro “Chando” Madrigal - he helped his dad open and run a tortilla factory in Tijuana, where he learned about the recipes and flavors of the local street food. In Sacramento, he opened Chando's Tacos, generally considered the best tacqueria in town. His latest place: Chando's Cantina, next door to the Governor's Mansion, which has higher-end but just-as-authentic food.
(the song you hear in the intro is a fitting one -- "Flor de Huevo" by Los Lobos)
* 7:20 min - "There have been days when I wake up at 5, I tell my wife, 'I’m craving tacos birria.' We pack the kids in the car, we drive to Tijuana and we go eat. We’re that crazy" - the panelists introduce themselves
* 25:40 – "We need to educate people about what a real taco is about and how to eat this food”- Chando moves from tortillas in Tijuana to partying with Jerry Brown
* 35:10 – "From age 16, I knew I wanted to run a restaurant, probably because that’s when I started selling Chiclets" - how Ernesto learned to appreciate his Latino culture
* 43:50 – "On our last trip to Mexico, Max made sure we got a meaner dog" - creating the visuals at Cantina Alley
* 50:10 - "I’m down with the brown" - educating people vs. accommodating them when it comes to the food
* 55:15 – “I hope to change the tortilla game in high-end supermarkets” - changing the sameness, and influencing the local food ecosystem
* 1 hr, 7:40 min – "You put out an ad and the reality is you get 30 male applicants vs 1-2 female applicants” - getting more women into the male-dominated Mexican food scene
* 1 hr, 15:25 min – "Go out to the peach tree orchards and you'll find verdolaga" - what local crops California farmers can grow for great Mexican food
* 1 hr, 22:25 - "Now my answer is, ‘I’m the only crazy, idiotic one who believes I can make a difference'" - helping the Sacramento community in the role as a restaurateur