Illustration by Celia Díaz.
Roberto Ruiz is one of those Mexicans: straightforward and ingenious. He is the chef of Punto MX, the first Mexican restaurant to win a Michelin star in Europe.
We’re eating tacos at Punto MX, Madrid, and Roberto says: “Mexico 2000 is a film from the early 1980s, a review starring Héctor Lechuga in which, suddenly, Mexico is a world power: the Germans sing the mañanitas and celebrate with hats”. Today is neither the year 2000 nor the decade of the eighties, but one year before 2020 Mexico has been a gastronomic world power for 4000 years. It seems that the rest of the planet is barely discovering each of the wonders that make our culinary culture heritage of humanity according to UNESCO.
Mexico is not tex-mex, burritos or tacos with hard shell tortilla, Mexico is not Tulum neither.
“What a pride to be Mexican. Ask René Redzepi if he would like to be Mexican. It’s incredible to be Danish, but at the ingredient level, it’s wonderful to be Mexican. In a taco there is a lot of information: textures, flavors and temperatures, we are baroque. It’s so exciting to serve pastor or cochinita pibil and see the faces of people who have just bit a taco for the first time.
“What’s the protocol for a Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant? It doesn’t exist, we invented it. Our national cuisine is experiential by itself. No other taco is the same, everyone customizes it in their own way. Our cuisine is not one of recipes, it is one of craftsmanship. In Mexico we are all natural sybarites. I had never valued the tortilla so much until I had to explain how it’s made. I couldn’t and began to value it more than ever. There is an enormous complexity of making Mexican food 12,000 kilometers away in a place where the concept of ‘nixtamalization’ does not exist.
Punto MX has the only Mexican organic market garden in Europe with seven hectares. Until ten years ago, people didn’t eat in fine dining Mexican restaurants, as haute cuisine was focused on the French or Italians.
A Mexican restaurant, really?
“I came to Spain in the midst of the crisis. As a Mexican, I had an advantage: in the face of adversity, creativity and ingenuity. I came to Spain to share the word of the Mexican grandmothers: yes, a burnt tomato may taste good. To break with the schemes of the traditional culinary school so that my team would unlearn what they had been taught in Europe.
I bet on the challenging, the easy thing is to buy salsa: I make it; the easy thing is to buy tortillas: I harvest the corn. What do I sell at Punto MX? Dragons don’t fly here: they’re tacos, guacamole, pastor style Iberian pork meat; never a foam. Mexican food has always been tall and we don’t need anyone to validate it except us: defend it, taste it, share it and get to know it. I’ll be waiting for you here soon.”
*Our specialty is the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry.