Chef Enrique Olvera
Chef de Cuisine Alex Bremont and Pancho Ibañez
#20 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2017
Visited: May 29th, 2017 – Dinner Service
It was April of 2015 when we visited New York City and dined at Cosme where we had our first taste of Chef Enrique Olvera’s cuisine. Back then, the restaurant was only 6-months old but in a short amount of time, it has generated a significant buzz within the restaurant and foodie circles, especially a well-deserved James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant. At Cosme, I vividly remembered the delicious Scallops Aguachile, the tantalizing Uni Tostada, and the life-changing dessert of Corn Husk Meringue. I told my husband that very night that visiting Mexico City to eat at Pujol was in our future. Two years, later, we found ourselves at Pujol’s front door, about to embark in one of the greatest culinary adventures of our lives.
After the recent restaurant’s relocation, the brand new Pujol now offers a new and exciting experience, an “Omakase of Tacos”, where six perfectly curated tacos are the star of the show. Each taco was carefully designed from scratch using the highest quality of Mexican ingredients, from the house-made tortillas from different varieties of corn, to salsas from different chiles and spices. The Omakase of Tacos entail a beverage pairing which includes cocktails, mezcales, wines and tequilas. Chef Olvera knows his flavours and delivers it precisely well with every bite of his food.
Chef Olvera’s love for tacos was evident in his episode in the documentary, Chef’s Table on Netflix, and the “Omakase of Tacos” experience is his personal way of imparting his love of tacos to the rest of the world.
We started our experiences with “Botanas”, or street snacks paired with a welcome cocktail made from Mezcal.
Mole Madre – 1,289 Days
For the final taco, we were presented with the eponymous Mole dish, that in my humble opinion, solidified Pujol’s status within the world of gastronomy. The creation of the “Mole Madre” sauce is similar with the “Solera” style of aging Sherry Wine where a fraction of the newest vintage is added to the barrel containing the blend of every vintages since the “Solera” was started, ensuring consistency and complexity of flavours.
At Pujol, the “Mole Madre” or old mole sauce that has been cooking and reheating on the stove in what seems like forever, is fed daily with the “Mole Nuevo” or new mole sauce that they create everyday. This method results in a Mole that takes the essences of both the old and new and intertwines the flavours and their complexities into one single entity. The flavours become more harmonious the longer they spend together, and at the same time the flavours change unpredictably on a daily basis. On the time of our visit, the “Mole Madre” sauce has been cooking for 1,289 days.
Our experience at Pujol was more than what I could have imagined it to be. The “Omakase of Tacos” experience features a mere taco as art, where Chef Olvera meticulously crafted each taco and molded it into his masterpieces. The food, from the amuse-bouche to the final desserts, was born from the streets of Mexico. As a diner, you are served exquisite dishes that are inherently street foods, but transformed and elevated by the Chef’s artful skills and the utilization of high quality ingredients. This experience successfully and elegantly showcased the history and diversity of Mexican cuisine.
Eating and sitting on the Taco Bar was an experience in itself as it felt like it was the heart and soul of the restaurant. It was a place where the creative energy from the Chef flourishes and translates into food that was utterly flavourful. The service we received from the friendly staff was superb and most importantly, fun! A special mention goes to our host, Celi, who not only took good care of us but she made sure that our experience was unforgettable, lively and fun just like her personality!
By the stroke of my luck I met Chef Enrique Olvera that night! We were able to chat with him about his restaurant, his food, and our incredible experience. He also signed my personal copy of his cook book.
I initially asked the chef for a picture during our dinner, but he said that it will be best to take a photo after dinner as the next course was already making its way in front of me. After dinner, I thought the chef forgot, knowing how busy he was so we left and waited for our ride outside. I was surprised and speechless when Chef Enrique came after us outside to ask how dinner was and most importantly, for our photo. This gesture speaks volumes of the Chef’s remarkable character as a person.
Thank you very much Chef Enrique and Team Pujol for the wonderful hospitality and for an experience that we will never forget. If you ever find yourself in Mexico City, eating at Pujol is a must.