Celebrity Chef Chuck Hughes Explores Traditional Mexican Cuisine
Chuck Hughes, celebrity chef from Montreal, took a tour of Mexico to film his new eight-part TV series, Chuck’s Week Off. Through the show, he experienced many aspects of Mexican culture and found himself loving Mexico City, in particular, the French-influenced Condesa district. In describing Mexico City, he says, “It’s probably cooler than New York, it’s probably cooler than Paris, it’s probably cooler than London. It’s just a lot of creative young people.” Hughes traveled out of the city to the rural areas of Mexico, where he experienced lassoing, hiking, and diving. “I’d love to raise my kids in Mexico City. I love the whole country, it was amazing, but Mexico City in particular was really eye opening to me.”
Hughes felt at home in Mexico due not only to the hospitality of the countrymen, but also because the staples of traditional Mexican cuisine reminded him of those of Canadian cuisine. "Being from Quebec, my whole life I grew up on pork, corn, potatoes, and when I look at Mexico it's the same kind of deal,” he explained. One thing he found very different however was the hot habanera pepper!
While shooting in Mexico, Hughes grew fond of certain Mexican foods, including tongue tacos and real cane sugar Coca Cola, which he had for breakfast. Later in the day, he devoured traditional street food made of cut mangoes, cucumber, and coconut seasoned with salt, chili flakes, and juice.
Of course, he dedicated a large portion of his time to learning traditional Mexican cooking techniques, where the technology was often less than what he had grown accustomed to in his well-known restaurants, Garde Manger and Le Bremner, both popular spots in Montreal.
The trip proved to be an experience to remember, and he has a new appreciation for the traditions of Mexican cuisine and cooking methods. “I think that’s probably what I take back the most from my whole experience,” he explained “Not necessarily any specific recipe but more of a philosophy and a way of treating the ingredients, looking at ingredients and respecting the food.”