Chef Aquiles Chavez is a celebrity chef who has amazed Mexico and the US with his unique cooking style. He sat down with EXTRA to open up a bit about his passion for cooking, his family, his restaurant “La Fisheria” and his future plans.
EXTRA: When did you start cooking? Chef Chavez: Professionally I started when I was 16. I started at a restaurant as a dish washer working 48 hours a week, eight hours a day. After these eight hours, I spent five more hours with the chef at the restaurant. I remember the time in the kitchen with my mom. I have been in the business for 20 years.
What is your secret to cooking? What makes a meal great?
It’s not the secret just to cooking but also the secret to life – passion, creativity and “mise en place” (a French word, which means “everything in place”).
Tell me about your three cooking shows on Utilisima channel
My first show is “El Toque de Aquiles.” It’s a cooking show about me cooking, teaching housewives quick recipes. It is a very honest and easy show. I have a road trip show – “Aquilisimo.” In the show we travel around Mexico eating and meeting people. I love the show – it’s about finding small places, street restaurants. It’s not a program where you have to be rich to go eat. We talk about the history of the places, the foods, the cooks and the customers. The third show is called “Aquiles en Houston” and it’s about me leaving Mexico to come live in the US. We show all the things that happen when somebody moves to another country. When we moved to the US we opened “La Fisheria.” We take the most popular dishes and we change the ingredients, like instead of pork we use octopus. One of my favorite dishes is carnitas de pulpo. I love to cook octopus.
Do you have other favorite dishes to cook?
I focus mainly on Mexican cuisine. But I love to eat anything – brains, eyes, liver, eyeballs. I love to eat.
Most people look at food as a good and a bad thing. As a chef what is your outlook on food?
I always say bad food and bad ingredients don’t exist. What exist are awful habits. The problem is not what you eat; it is the quantities of food you eat.
What are some healthy ingredients?
I love avocado. It’s my favorite ingredient. The Mexican avocados are the best avocados in the world. You can substitute bread with butter with bread with avocado and honey. It’s a wonderful and healthy breakfast.
What are your future goals?
My goal is to be happy. I would like to make people happier.
What is your message to young inspiring chefs and people that look up to you?
To cook with passion, “mise en place” and love. I spent almost three years of my life as a dishwasher working 12-16 hours a day. I got this working and doing the right things.
This post is also available in: Spanish