Taste Travels: Q&A with Bricia Lopez
Welcome to Taste Travels, our series on exploring and finding culinary voice. We’ll be celebrating the foundational techniques and flavors our favorite chefs and creators grew up with, including how they’re blending them into their everyday lives and making meaningful new traditions. Each story we highlight aims to showcase the fluidity and evolution of food across cultures and continents.
Get to know the chef and creator behind our new Beans and Mole Kit! Bricia Lopez is our fave LA-based Mexican-American restaurateur and author. She's co-owner of the James Beard award-winning Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza, author of two incredible cookbooks: Oaxaca and Asada, and THE fauthorities on Oaxacan culture and cuisine. We had a blast chatting with Bricia about her earliest memories in the kitchen, how her voice as a chef has evolved, and the legacy she hopes to leave with her cooking. Read on for our Q&A and the sweetest photos.
*Bring Oaxaca home by cooking up Bricia's exclusive recipes developed just for our kit: Mole bean chili with mushrooms and Mole casamiento with delicata.
Q: What are some of your earliest memories in the kitchen and how have they informed your perspective on food and gathering?
A: In the heart of Oaxaca, in the warmth of my grandma's kitchen, my earliest
memories are painted with the scent of caldo de pollo and roasted chiles all mixed
with the sight of her long black braids. Every Sunday, like clockwork, we visited her
in Mitla. The journey there was just as special, with our ritual stop in Tlacolula to
grill meats, and pick up tlayudas, black beans, and whatever else caught our eye.
Those food memories from my childhood are like gold to me.
Bricia's family enjoying a shared meal in Oaxaca
Q: What’s your most nostalgic dish?
A: Oh, without a doubt, it's salsa de carne frita paired with black beans. Imagine fried
pork ribs soaked in a beautifully simple red salsa. The beauty is in its simplicity, yet
it explodes with flavor. And when you combine it with frijoles de la olla and fresh
tortillas made by hand – that's my Oaxaca on a plate.
Q: How has your voice as a chef and artist evolved over time?
A: My culinary journey began with a young cook's itch to constantly impress others. But with time, I began to appreciate the profound depth and richness of my Oaxacan roots. The realization dawned – I don’t need to impress. I just need to dive deep into the power of our culture, celebrate the authenticity, and let the ingredients tell their story.
Q: How would you describe your cooking philosophy today?
A: To me, cooking should be first and foremost fun. Keep it simple, let each note (or ingredient) shine, season with love, and always, always end with a high note of acidity.
Bricia making tortillas with her daugher, Agustina
Q: What culinary traditions have you either held on to, or evolved for your friends and family today?
A: Hand-making tortillas with my kids is more than just a culinary ritual; it's a bridge to
their heritage. But I love to play too – by weaving in non-traditional ingredients into
everyday masa dishes, I’m creating a beautiful tapestry of old and new.
Q: What role do beans play in your life?
A: Beans in Oaxacan homes, including mine, aren't just food. They’re an ever-
present companion. My dedicated bean pot has its place of honor on my stove top,
and you’ll always find beans ready in my fridge – comforting and versatile.
Q: What's the legacy you want to leave with your cooking?
A: When I think of legacy, I dream of my children beaming with pride as they recall the meals of their ancestors. I want them, and the world, to see Mexican cuisine for its rich tapestry of flavors, techniques, and love. If I can shift the world’s view from "cheap Mexican" to "a culinary gem of the world," then I'll rest knowing I've seasoned the world just right.