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Chef Alex Stupak on Creation and Perception

"I’m trying to get a cuisine to be perceived the same way that other ethnic cuisines in New York City have been successful at being perceived. Whereas like when with go out to eat French food or when we go out to eat Italian food, we don’t even think of those as ethnic food, do we? But there’s certain socioeconomic issues. Forget about the cost of a plane ticket or where you’re situated in the world, us as Americans tend to think that a European vacation is worth a lot more than a Mexican vacation, now don’t we?

And that ties directly to the fact that when people go out to eat food, they think that French food or Italian food is worth more than Mexican.

So we could go out to eat at a French restaurant, one that could mean anything, that could mean a bistro or cafe, or it could go all the way up to a three star Michelin restaurant. We could go to get a bowl of risotto with white truffles, and that’s a French restaurant. But we also know that risotto is an Italian dish, and the truffles that are shaved on top of them are Italian as well. But no one’s calling that a bastardization or a travesty to French traditionalism.

The same way we could go to Jean-Georges and at the end of the day that food is certainly French, but the food is certainly riddled with things like curry and Thai chilis and lemon grass, and things like this.So when focusing on Mexican cooking, the second we get away from what we perceive is Mexican in this country, i.e., cilantro and onion, these types of traditional things, it’s considered fusion, and it’s spelled fusion in a negative way."

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