Pujol restaurant is located in the posh neighborhood of Polanco, in Mexico City. Owned by chef Enrique Olvera, Pujol is considered, today, among one of the best restaurants in Latin America and ranked No. 9 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. According to this master of gastronomy, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, the restaurant was born out of his interest to reclaim Mexican food and transform the treasures of traditional cuisine into transcendental flavors. Olvera vindicates his predicament by using ingredients found in his native country.
That may be the reason why in this restaurant, filled with elegance and warmth, the menu becomes a delightful invitation to a carefully constructed multi-sensory experience. For starters, diners cannot order different dishes since the chef only presents a tasting menu consisting of several items. “At Pujol we offer menus, not individual dishes. We tell a story at the table,” says Olvera. “Our portions are small because we serve ten dishes, so they can’t be judged individually.”His blend of local ingredients and flavors results in “small dishes” that tell the story of Mexico and its rich culture and diversity. Creations as aguachile of chia seed and avocado, ceviche fish tacos, beans and hoja santa, and his specialty: Mole madre (Mother Mole), more than delight the palate.
The Mole madre at Pujol is food fit for the gods. Traditional Mole is a Mexican sauce consisting of more than 20 ingredients, including hot chiles, nuts, spices and chocolate. But at Pujol, the preparation of Mole madre is a lengthy process that requires painstaking dedication. The exquisite sauce is reheated for weeks—around 170 days—in order to achieve its characteristic, aged flavor. “Mole could be a traditional dish, but we try to do things with a high level of authenticity. The goal is not recreating grandma’s recipe. It is something very organic, very authentic,” says Olvera.After traveling the world and participating in numerous conferences and gastronomic fairs, such as Mesamérica or Madrid Fusion, chef Enrique Olvera claims to find the best inspiration in the traditions of the people of his country, showing loyalty to its roots and always supporting Mexican products.UNESCO added Mexican cuisine to its World Heritage list. Chefs and gourmands agree that the Aztec nation is an international gastronomic powerhouse, especially in Latin America. In a metropolis like Mexico City, where the cuisine is rich and varied, with old and emerging culinary ideas, Pujol restaurant stands at the top of the list. Considered the “re-inventor” of traditional Mexican cuisine, Olvera claims that more than reinventing it, “the aim is to continue to evolve in order to add to our legacy, to refine the work of our predecessors and learn from their experiences, but always questioning to better understand our business.”
The avant-garde style of his cuisine is what has positioned Pujol among the best in the world. However, Olvera attributes his success to the duality of concepts that can be found in his kitchen, which differentiates it from the rest: a combination between global and local, formal and casual, sophistication and simplicity: “I cook to convey feelings, not to dazzle with my technical prowess,” says the accomplished chef.
At Pujol, rather than reinventing traditional Mexican cuisine, Olvera claims and transforms it, keeping its essence alive. As a result, the Pujol experience is memorable like a delicious journey through an ancient culture. ■