I recently had the pleasure to meet Chef Israel Alvarez Molina at his shop in Victoria’s Chinatown. Israel had opened up his tortilla factory and shop during the pandemic after searching for a location for quite sometime.
Formerly Chef De Cuisine at Pujol restaurant in Mexico City, he credits working there as what launched his career. In 2008 he left his home country of Mexico behind and moved to Edmonton, where he eventually started doing pop-up dinners, culinary classes, and events all focusing on traditional Mexican Cuisine. After taking a trip to Vancouver Island he fell in love with the place and after obtaining his Canadian citizenship he decided to make the move to Victoria.
He learned the process of Nixtamalization to make the finest tortillas from a chef/friend back home in Mexico and his exciting plans to distribute the tortillas he is now making across BC and beyond. He told me that it’s been difficult to find the right type of corn to make his natural tortillas; he now uses both Certified Organic Corn, grown in Armstrong BC, and Mexican corn, to make his high-quality tortillas.
When he set out to find space to make the tortillas he also wanted a place where he could sell them to the public as well as serve up some Mexican dishes at least some tacos to showcase what he makes from scratch. After searching far and wide within Victoria he found the perfect spot in the heart of Chinatown in downtown Victoria.
He gave me a tour of his tortilla making process and the machines that he needs to make the perfect tortillas. He then made some of the BC Corn/ Mexican corn tortilla topped with mole and cheese which were delicious.
He has recently found a local Vancouver Island farmer who can grow the exact type of corn that he needs to make his tortillas, fulfilling his mission to be as local as he can and starting next summer this process will go one step further.
He also makes many other products with his corn some of which includes tacos, tamales, and even hot chocolate and that is something you can ask about if you visit his shop.
After our wonderful talk I then enjoyed some delicious Beef Barbacoa tacos, along with the Chicken tinga tamale.
He now has a devoted client base of chefs and restaurants buying his tortillas for their dishes as well as stores across Vancouver Island selling his tortillas to their customers. You can also purchase his tortillas online and have them delivered to you across BC and Canada.
Here at this wonderful Mexican shop and eatery they feature a small menu of Mexican street food that is served Friday – Sunday. Chef Israel and his team makes Tortillas and Tamales in house as well as several other items.
By: Richard Wolak