Iron Chef Jose Garces Celebrates Release of New Cookbook -- The Latin Road Home -- With Temporary Menu at Distrito
Jose Garces comes to town frequently to check up on Distrito, his modern Mexican restaurant specializing in Mexico City-style street food. This trip, however, the Iron Chef had another objective: to promote his new cookbook -- The Latin Road Home -- by hosting a special five-course dinner using recipes from the book, each course reflecting one of the five countries featured within its pages.
Buchanan Jose Garces at Distrito
-- Frescas and Pozole at Distrito
The dinner, which I attended, was awesome. Now Garces has put another temporary tasting menu in place -- this one featuring Mexican dishes only, priced at $45 per person and offered through November 18. I had a chance to catch up with Garces to talk about the cookbook and his career. Here's what he had to say.
So, this is your second cookbook on Latin American cooking. How does it differ from the first?: My first cookbook, Latin Evolution, was more of a look back on my professional cooking career, and really, the recipes were for the ambitious home cook or the young professional. There's a lot of sous vide and really long prep times and different foams. It's more of an evolved cookbook. And it was really looking at taking those Latin recipes and evolving them. That's why it's called Latin Evolution.
Buchanan Stacks of The Latin Road Home --waiting for Jose's autograph
And the new one?: The Latin Road Home is sort of a stripped-down version of Latin cooking meant for the home cook. It takes a look at five different Spanish-speaking countries which have inspired my career for the last 10 to 15 years now. It's more of a Latin handbook and an insight into Latin cultures and cuisines. It's also a travelogue and a memoir for me as well. There's a good amount of narrative. I'm a fan of cookbooks. I own over 500 of them and while the recipes are important, I've always been a fan of the stories behind the recipes.
Which countries do you explore?: Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, and each country has a significant meaning for me. I could go right down the line. Spain -- the first restaurant I opened, Amada, was Spanish. I traveled to Spain after culinary school and had a lot of great experiences there. In fact, I traveled there many times before opening Armada. Cuba is the place that my wife is from. So I've had her Cuban influence for the last 10 years, and I've traveled there a lot and experienced the culture of Havana and surrounding areas. Ecuador -- that's where my parents are from. That's my upbringing. Growing up in Chicago, I had a true Ecuadorian upbringing -- the food, the language, everything.