Enrique Olvera’s importance for gastronomy goes far beyond the territory of his native country: although he was one of the first chefs to prove that Mexican cuisine is much more than traditional cooking, he helped show the world all the cultural richness behind the flavors and recipes of Mexico.
Olvera opened his restaurant, Pujol, in Mexico City in 2000, after being graduated from The Culinary Institute of America. Among other recognitions, Pujol has occupied a prominent place among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for years, making him become part of the Pantheon of the chefs. His cooking is constantly transforming but has strong roots in the techniques and ingredients of Mexico, highlighting a new perspective even for rustic indigenous flavors. One proof is the omakase counter that he built in Pujol to showcase all the craftsmanship of tacos – the quintessential Mexican food elevated to the level of a gastronomic gem. His vision of Mexican cuisine is irreverent but intellectual, elegant but wholesome.
Olvera finds himself looking for less complex and more delicious food, an approach that he installed at the new building where he relocated Pujol, his 17-year-old restaurant, to a stunning, classy home within the same neighborhood of Polanco, where he welcomes his guests in a fresher and brighter space. To create an entire hospitality atmosphere, Olvera opened Casa Teo, an inn with a culinary workshop space featuring just two rooms in the same place Pujol used to work. The rooms are available for guests and chef residencies, with breakfast provided.
In 2014, Olvera successfully made his way up to the US market with Cosme in New York, which was named best new restaurant of the year by The New York Times. A couple of years later, he opened Atla in the same city, and in 2019, he plans to open a new venue in the Design District of Los Angeles, setting his foot also in the West Coast. It is no exaggeration say that Olvera transformed the cliche that Mexican restaurants in America never went past the stereotypes.
Olvera also runs Eno, in Mexico City (where he was born in 1976). He is a partner of Criollo in Oaxaca, and acts as the creative chef of Manta in Los Cabos. In 2018, the Mexican chef also opened Molino “El Pujol”, where he is rescuing the tradition of freshly made, locally-milled tortillas. Olvera works only with small-scale Mexican corn farmers to help them to grow and to improve their incomes – a similar work he does with his other restaurants, where high-quality ingredients are harvested by families and small farmers. According to the chef, there is no distinction between the philosophy that he follows for Pujol, Atla, and Molino: for him, good gastronomy is made of good products – whether if in a fine dining restaurant or in a tortillería.
Working very closely with farmers from various regions of Mexico, he also helped to evidence indigenous ingredients, such as mole, the rich, dense sauce from Oaxaca that he exalts in one of his signature dishes, “Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo”, serving a circle of a mole aged for more than 1,500 days with an inner circle of a freshly-made mole.
Olvera also became famous for serving up elegant interpretations of regional Mexican cuisine using indigenous ingredients and updating traditional recipes, such as the “Smoked Baby Corn with Coffee Mayonnaise and Ant Powder” and the Instagram hit “Husk Meringue” from Cosme. Turned famous for his guest appearances in TV shows, such as Netflix’ Chef’s Table and The Final Table, Olvera has become an ambassador for Mexican gastronomy, shining a light on a great world cuisine and a cheerful culture that he brings to all of his restaurants.
Awards & Press
- World’s 50 Best