CEO Katya Torres de la Rocha is excited about the future of Mexican cuisine in the UK

22 May 2015

Things have changed a lot during my career in the Mexican food industry.

When I opened Mestizo, London’s first real Mexican restaurant and my first venture in the UK in 2003, authentic ingredients were hard to come by. To get anything close the chillies and spices used in my home country, I had to shop at Hindu and Chinese stores.

The produce was good quality, but I couldn’t achieve the unmistakeable taste of Mexico I was striving for.

I’d had plenty of experience of Mexican cooking, having owned and run a restaurant in the Mexican capital, Mexico City. In my quest for authenticity, I began importing tomatillos and certain chillies from Spain and Germany. And I bought corn husks for making tamales from Moroccan food outlets.

Then came along and solved my problem. It imported products straight from Mexico.

I took over at in 2008. Today, it supplies Mexican restaurants across the UK as well as Mexican expats. Foodies and chefs return to time and again for authentic ingredients like mole sauce, real corn tortillas, chillies and many more.

Not all chillies are created equal. The pasilla chilli, for example, has a raisin-like flavour with a moreish liquorice smell, while the chipotle is a smoky chilli with a warm chocolate aroma. Another favourite is the infamous habanero, one of the world’s hottest chillies, but with a fruity flavour to match.

The perception of Mexican food is changing, too. People are cottoning on to the compelling health benefits of the Mexican diet. Corn tortillas and chilli sauces are naturally gluten-free, and produce such as avocados, chia, amaranth and cactus grown in Mexico are superfoods.

Burritos, known as “Mexican sandwiches,” are generously filled and full of flavour, yet contain fewer calories than a traditional sandwich. No wonder burrito restaurants are popping up everywhere across the UK.

Mexican cuisine is the world’s third most diverse. This is down to the variety of climates and altitudes across Mexico. The mountainous regions around Jiquipilco are home to mushrooms and huitlacoche, known as Mexican Truffle. The tropical areas of the country produce a vast variety of fruit and vegetables. In drier climates of Mexico, the agave plant thrives - and from tequila and agave, syrup originates. Further south in Mexico, growers produce the maguey plant, vanilla, chocolate and coffee.

Expect to see lot more from Mexican cuisine in the UK in the coming months.