Eagle-eyed foodies may have noticed a flurry of Anglo-Mexican cheffy activity of late. If you’ve been marvelling at a number of Mexico’s finest chefs crossing the waters to the UK and wondering why, there is a simple answer; 2015 is the Year of Mexico in the UK, and conversely, the Year of the UK in Mexico. The ‘dual year’ is an arrangement set up by the governments of both of our countries to celebrate cultural exchange in many forms: musical, artistic, boring trade stuff and most importantly – if like me, food comes before anything else – culinary.
While this kind of government-sanctioned exchange may sound a little dry, it has actually created some incredible events that are worth lapping up for any foodie worth their salt. One such joyful event was the bringing together of two culinary luminaries in their fields, our very own Lee Westcott of Typing Room in Bethnal Green, and Guillermo González Beristáin – chef proprietor of Pangea in Monterrey in North East Mexico.
Guillermo is a heavyweight in Mexico, not just for his 50 Best Latin Restaurants-listed Pangea, but for his many eateries across Monterrey, with a diverse set of influences covering French, Italian and Chinese cuisines – a truly cosmopolitan chef. Pangea has won international praise for its merging of French technique with Mexican flavours and stunning ingredients. Lee Westcott, similarly, has been lauded for placing the focus on ingredients – his beautiful plates demonstrate alarmingly skilled technique, but each dish tastes as good as it looks. No style over substance here.
Despite not knowing each other before their cross-culinary union, the chefs have clearly hit it off. I arrived at the restaurant to the chefs chatting as press snapped photos of the two. I spoke to them about breaking culinary misconceptions, and how British and Mexican cuisine have more in common than they first appear to.