Your dishes look like mouthwatering works of art! What’s your secret?
My secret is no secret, it’s simple: it’s passion, love and respect for the food that I am cooking. I believe that if you cook with love, my customers can feel it when they are eating it. I choose my ingredients, and when I plate up they should dance on the plate.
With dining-in permitted again, what can customers expect from your menu?
Expect your favourite dishes on the menu. It’s like coming back home after being away for a while and Mama cooks your favourite meal – you know you’re home. We will be introducing new sharing dishes to allow our diners to connect with each other again. We call this “sobremesa”, where you pass things around and share the food and experience it together.
If a customer asked you to suggest your favourite dish, what would it be?
This is hard; it’s like choosing between my children! I love a taco – they are small but have so much flavour, texture and memories – but I do love a ceviche with a beer. The lemon and freshness of the fish is the true taste of beach days. I would also suggest the Tulum salad with pan-fried calamari because it’s a beautiful dish in every way.
Could you tell us a little about your industry experience?
My industry experience started in El Salvador when I started a small catering company as a passion project. However, when we came to Australia in 1988 I decided to follow my dreams of becoming a chef. I studied in William Angliss where I learnt lots and met many people who inspired me to keep going. I have been lucky enough to work in many kitchens where I have learnt about different cultures, techniques, flavours and ingredients, allowing me to explore in my own cooking. I have also had the exposure of working at Crown Casino cooking for large functions and celebrity diners. And then finally, before I hang up my apron, I have my own restaurant where I cook using all that I’ve learnt Mama Roxy’s style.
What’s your style in the kitchen and what do you love most about what you do?
My style is traditional with a little twist. I love flavour, colour and I love seeing all the ingredients together in a fiesta on the dish. This makes me happy. I love interacting with people and talking to them about the different flavours and ingredients we use. I love telling them stories of the dishes and where they come from. I love showing that you can use ingredients in different ways. For example, we have our famous Rosita salad – it is watermelon and jicama or green mango layered with mint, lemon and salt. People don’t expect the flavour bomb and they always like to tell me about it and this is music to my ears.
Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs?
Be original, be honest with your cooking, explore different techniques and ingredients, keep growing and learning, be proud of what you are doing and be passionate in everything you do.