Interview with Chef Enrique Menendez

Vancouver is home to some of the best chefs in the world, many have worked for the top chefs and restaurants around the world as well as around the city. Dishing with the Chefs is a series of Interviews with some of the top chefs in and around Vancouver.

Chef Enrique Menendez

Chef Enrique Menendez

When I was living in Mexico City, where I grew up, I used to cook at home for my family, I was about 14 or 15 years old at the time. Years later I came to Vancouver and worked as a dishwasher at Las Margaritas for 2 years, I also helped the cook doing kitchen prep. I liked helping with the cooking and sometimes I gave them advice which they happily accepted. I stayed on with the restaurant working as a Busser, then the Bartender. Then an opportunity came up at Las Margaritas and I was promoted to Sous Chef and worked there for another 4 years. I then moved on to Patron Tacos & Cantina as their opening Executive Chef and have been here since.

You can follow Chef Enrique Menendez on Instagram @menendez27

IMG_3815

Has your menu changed since opening?

Yes it has twice.

IMG_3816

Are you changing the menu based on the season or authenticity?

I am trying to add more authentic Mexican dishes to the menu.

Have you had any challenges over the years in your restaurant?

You have to make it easy for yourselves, and it’s important to have good staff.

IMG_3819

What are your favourite cuisines to eat personally?

Japanese and then Mexican of course.

What are your favourite restaurants to eat at in Vancouver outside of where you work?

  • Guu
  • Cardero’s

IMG_3821

Do you cook at home?

Yes, mostly making salads, and pastas with a Mexican touch with lots of vegetables.

What do you like to do in your Off Time?

  • Excursions outside of the city
  • Play soccer
  • Run along the beach

IMG_3822

1st dish:

Prawns Tostada

Prawns Tostada

Prawns Tostada

Prawns

Jalapeno

Red onion

Tomatoes

Cilantro

Hot sauce

Ketchup

Chili flakes

Mexican oregano

Lime juice

Chipotle pepper

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

We have a lot of Mexicans coming here who want seafood and it is popular in Mexico.

IMG_3825

What was the most exciting thing you have done in awhile?

I went to the world cup in Brazil in 2014.

What do you want your kitchen staff to learn from you?

  • To be responsible
  • Work clean
  • I want them to love to cook

IMG_3827

Have you had any challenges finding specific ingredients from Mexico here?

  • Avocado leaf
  • Cactus (sometimes)

Have you put any dishes on your menu that haven’t worked? 

Molletes – it is an open face type of sandwich which is popular in Mexico. We had it on the menu and removed it as it wasn’t popular.

Do you make your own Tortilla Chips?

Yes

IMG_3828

IMG_3830

2nd dish:

Quesadillas Mexico City Style

Quesadillas Mexico City Style

Quesadillas Mexico City Style

Corn tortilla

Mozzarella cheese

Carnitas (pork)

Lettuce

Feta cheese

Sour cream

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

I wanted to put something from the street (street food from my city which is Mexico City).

What other street food dishes from Mexico isn’t being served here?

  1. Sweet plantains
  2. Tlayuda – blue corn hardshell with nopales cactus
  3. Gorditas

What would you pair your Prawns Tostada with?

Negra Modelo

What would you pair your Quesadillas Mexico City Style with?

Michelado

Stay tuned for the next chef in the Dishing with the Chef series.

By: Richard Wolak