Recently, Chef Adolfo Garcia was interviewed by Emmanuel Laroche, Symrise’s Vice President, Marketing & Consumer Insights, Global Marketing Leader, to uncover the insights that Garcia uniquely brings to understanding the diverse Latino cuisine and its impact on the food and beverage industry.

This week we are featuring part 2 of a 3 part interview with Chef Adolfo

As an owner and chef of awarding-winning restaurants in New Orleans, Chef Adolfo has brought a new level to traditional Creole specialties by imparting these with a creative Latino touch that relies on his Panamanian heritage. La Boca, a Mano and Gusto are favorite dining places for locals who have a myriad of excellent restaurants to choose from but who return to Adolfo’s haunts over and over again. Chef Garcia’s restaurants are also very well known as “must eat there” spots for travelers who are looking for an exceptional culinary experience.

How do you believe Latinos are influencing the American food scene today?

The diversity and new choices that the Latino population has bought to the American table is undeniable. Salsas from Mexico are probably the best and most evident example. The Caribbean brought in the plantains and yuca – which we seen more and more in mainstream applications. The strong presence of Latinos in the restaurant business has its impact, making Latino ingredients and dishes more
prevalent.

What are some new trends in Latino ingredients and flavors that you are seeing in mainstream U.S. cuisine?

Dulce de leche, tres leches and flans are everywhere now. Chimichurri and mojo sauces with Argentinean and Portuguese and Caribbean origins also are used more widely every day. Basically, these sauces combine garlic and olive oil with vinegar or mustard but lend themselves to variations by using different spices. Mango, papaya and passion fruit are not hard to find on menus when they were once considered exotic. There are other ingredients that are waiting to be further explored. For example, varieties of peppers that are indigenous to different Latin American countries, such as the serrano, spicier than jalapeno, and the sweet or hot yellow peppers of Peru. For hot sauces, chefs turn to the habanera, widely used in the Central America and the Caribbean. Other varieties like the aji rojo or the very hot rocoto bell pepper, native to Peru, are available in specialty stores. Sweet or hot, distinctive varieties of peppers are making their way into a wide range of dishes. You can also expect to see some selections that mainstream consumers have shied away from – dishes like Sause which are pig’s feet boiled until tender and then pickled with peppers. We are also recognizing more curious blends of ingredients in sauces, going beyond the familiar salsa. And in the Jamaican drink, Saril, there’s the delicious combination of the hibiscus flower with ginger and sugar. We have yet to see the impact of potatoes with novel colors such as Peruvian blues. There’s a wealth of new ideas that come from old, traditional regional foods that we can look forward to.

From your own experience, what is the biggest misconception people have about Latino cuisines?

Mexican food is the type of Latino food that is the most distorted. The perception that tacos and nachos are the mainstay foods of Mexico is absurd. This is a culture that dates back to before the time of Christ. The real food of Mexico reflects the richness that has been developed over centuries. I think of some current perceptions as an abuse, a caricature of a noble cuisine. Another misconception is that all Latin food is spicy. Generally speaking, the Mexicans and the Peruvians are the only two groups that may relish spicy foods. The remaining 19 Latino countries make well seasoned choices of foods that have more of an African or European character.

 

Click here to see part 1 of Chef Adolfo's interview

Check back next week on in-sight for part 3 of Emmanuel's interview with Chef Garcia!

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