World Chefs: Martin del Campo's fresh take on Mexican cuisine

Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:07am EDT
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By Cyntia Barrera Diaz

MEXICO CITY (Reuters Life!)- For Mexican chef Lula Martin del Campo, the way to fabulous dishes is simple: buy local, respect the ingredients, mix with abandon and sprinkle with flowers.

The executive chef at the Mexico City headquarters of an international bank, she has just launched her book "LulaChef - Mexico Contempo," a tribute to Mexican classics that range from mole, the rich sauce made of at least 20 ingredients, to huitlacoche, a black corn fungus with an earthy flavor.

With a 15-year career that took her from a family-run restaurant to designing the menus for top boutique hotels, she has earned respect in a mostly male-run field with her fresh approach to traditional dishes that have been served on Mexican tables and street corners for generations.

Esquites -- corn niblets with lime juice, mayonnaise, and grated cheese -- poblano chiles and squash blossoms are reinterpreted by Martin del Campo in 164 easy-to-follow recipes for meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

The petite 42-year-old credits much of her experience to tips shared by other cooks over the years.

"I don't believe in keeping the recipes to yourself. In the end, everyone gives his or her touch to a recipe," she said.

A big supporter of social causes, especially those helping indigenous groups, she swears by the wise words that a Huichol shaman once said to her.

"He said I had an inner light and that I should follow its guidance," she said, holding her red sequined lucky pendant.   Continued...