Who hid the Mexicans?


From the great blog Mex Files the question is asked “Where are the Mexican or Mexican American Chefs on the Food Channel Network cooking or explaining or visiting Mexican Restaurants and kitchens?” Always a sous-chef, never a chef

Paul Campos (Lawyers, Guns and Money) on U.S. television celebrity chef, Rick Bayless.

“… it struck me that in a country where the actual cooking in high-end restaurants is dominated by Latin Americans in general, and Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in particular, the “celebrity chef” doing the Mexican cooking against his French and Italian-American competitors was a very WASPy-seeming fellow. Nothing wrong with that of course — it’s not like you have to be a member of an ethnic group to be a great cook in that genre — but it also reminded me of the point Anthony Bourdain makes in Kitchen Confidential that almost none of the thousands of superbly skilled Mexican and Ecuadorian and Peruvian etc, cooks manning the lines ever seem to end up as head chefs or sous chefs at the fancy places they work, let alone with TV shows on the Food Network.”

Rick Bayless is a good Mexican cook and very respectful of the cuisine but he’s not a Mexican.

Paula Dean making “churros”?

I don’t know but they don’t look like the churros I’m used to seeing being made, tu sabes, with that big pot of boiling manteca and the chingadera that squeezes out the chorros of churro dough.

Here’s a Hungarian guy who runs a place called the “Iguana Restraunt” showing how to roll a cheese burrito, Huh!

You can watch Gringos, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Texans, and Hungarians all making and talking about Mexican Food on the Food Network, my question is “Where are the Mexicans?” There is plenty of Mexican food but as usual the Mexicans are invisible!

Finally the eminent Anthony Bourdain tells it like it is, about who really does the cooking in restaurants across the country, it’s the Mexicans stupid!

Viva La Raza!

16 thoughts on “Who hid the Mexicans?

  1. Rick Bayless creeps me out.

    Really, where are the Mexican cooking shows with Mexicans?

    Are they on youtube?

    My favorite cooking shows are on youtube: cooking with dog, and manjula’s kitchen.

  2. Good point, and it is true.. many mexican and latino cooks/chefs are considered good for line work etc.. but don’t really get those coveted positions that many other “celebrity” chefs get. Rick Bayless’ show is interesting, and he does his best to respect tradition, but that HEAVY white boy accent is just too much for me, especially when he tries to pronounce a word in spanish!!!

  3. Warning: “This woman is white, but she’s really fun to watch.”
    Or another way, “This woman is mexican, but she’s really fun to watch.”
    Not reverse racism, just racism, alienation.

  4. Actually, I know that they get the senior chef positions. There’s a sushi competition in LA every year, and often, one or two of the top three winners are Latino. They’re usually the managing or whatever top level chef, or a teacher. LA’s considered the top sushi restaurant markets in America, especially for traditional (not “rock and roll”) sushi, so that’s significant.

    What’s happening is that they are rising in the industry, but do not have a public face. That’s what the following article says.


    I imagine there’s a lot of mainstream resistance to making these guys more well known, because they all seem to have come here illegally, starting off as dishwashers.

    Here’s a related thread about Bayless on google groups

  5. The Anthony Bourdain episode where he visits Mexico with a guy who came up through one of his restaurants was pretty good. I work in Monterey Park – it’s a trip to see who is cooking in most of the “Chinese” restaurants in the city…

  6. Yeah Alienation, right on and out of sight!
    Funny you mention Sushi because my Grandson has worked the restaurant industry for years since he was 15 and practically running a Burger King. He is now 26 years old and just graduated from the Culinary Institute in St Paul Minnesota. He has worked in all phases of the industry and in all food genres, (fucking kid is talented if I do say so my self) and is now the headliner chef at the top sushi bar in Minneapolis/ St Paul,and on a pedestal no less! Directing and hob knobbing with the local clientele. I know I sound like a proud Grandpa but this kid is a tall handsome dude and very confident, he is usually worn out from both work and having fun with all the Swedish and German ethnic gals in Minnesota who think this young handsome dark Latino sushi chef is the cats pajamas.

    Hey, we’re gonna get there! One thing Mexicans have in ample supply is paciencia, yea I know, sometimes to a fault.
    But we’re gonna get there!

  7. Wasn’t Uno Mas owned by the same guy that had Yee Low Deli? Wonder if those kitchens were mixed up?

    I just found this site tonight via the entry “Memories of Lost L.A. Eateries.” It brought a tear to my eye. Pete’s Deli

  8. spoto
    August 31st, 2009 | 1:16 pm

    Warning: “This woman is white, but she’s really fun to watch.”
    Or another way, “This woman is mexican, but she’s really fun to watch.”
    Not reverse racism, just racism, alienation.


    I don’t see the racism in that. If the show’s called, say, “Greek Cuisine”, with a Mexican host, and the viewer says, “This woman is Mexican, but she’s really fun to watch”, it wouldn’t be racist because the context is that it’s a Greek show and the host isn’t Greek. The entire point of this thread is cooking shows on Mexican cuisine hosted by people who aren’t Mexican. Sorry, spoto, but you’re grasping at straws.

  9. I was in Chicago a couple of months ago and I went to Rick Bayless’ restaurant, la Frontera, we actually got to talk to the guy and I was surprised that all of the waiters and waitresses were Hispanic, im not sure if they were all Mexican, but Hispanic for sure. The food was really good, its more like fusion cuisine but it was good, we had barbacoa which came wrapped in corn leafs and we had duck and queso fundido, really really good stuff. FYI: Rick Bayless is super short and he walks around the restaurant greeting people, I thought that was kind of nice.

    Has anyone seen the Gourmet.com PBS show? There’s this Mexican chef that always adds liquors to his plates, we call him the funky punch cuz he’s always saying that. They always play funky background music, the other day he was making chuletas and the background music was Molotov, special touch to the show, he gets all into it and cooks while banging his head lol.

  10. @dq that’s too cool. You have every right to be proud. When’s he coming to L.A. to test his skills against the sushi guys here? We’re in the Mecca of American sushi.

    Thanks for writing this article. This issue’s been sticking in my craw for a while.

    Now, I’m starting to realize that the cooks on these tv shows aren’t really about cooking. They’re more into selling books and opening restaurants.

    @Gust – thanks for the defense.

    @Javier – I liked his shows too. Did you know he had two personalities? He used to have two shows – one on PBS and another on Chinese TV. On the PBS show, he was all “hooooohw” and being a clown. On the Chinese TV show, his voice was a lot deeper, and he was acting real serious. Nowadays, he’s more like the serious guy.

  11. Aaron Sanchez doesn’t host his own cooking show on the Food Network.

    The Food Network always shows Mexicans food, but usually it’s called pan-Latin or “Nuevo Latino” and they show a non-Mexican cooking it. I am sick of it.

    Time to boycott that racist channel.

  12. I have to say that Rick Bayless is a wonderful cook and is very, very respectful of Mexico and Mexican cuisine. I have done a lot of research on him out of curiosity and, as a Mexican, I can say that Rick Bayless is more Mexican than a hell of a lot of Latinos walking the streets of Los Angeles.

    He has spent more time in Mexico than I have. He has learned about the Mexican culture through his education (earning his undergraduate degree in Latin American culture and Spanish) and by living in the country to experience the culture.

    He also holds his fellow chefs (line cooks included) in very high regard. If you look at his blog, the websites for his restaurants, or his tweets he gives credit where credit is due – which is in all cases his fellow chefs of all nationalities.

    Give the guy a break. He has Mexico in his soul, it shouldn’t matter that he is not brown. Let the food do the talking.

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