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Chef brings Hispanic heritage to traditional American cuisine

Hispanic food culture
Posted at 4:55 PM, Oct 10, 2022

Hispanic foods are found in nearly every community. But there's a new trend among culinary artists, and it involves bringing flavors from those foods to more traditional American dishes, such as mac and cheese.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to take you into a restaurant kitchen where its blended dishes are a perfect example of what's happening across the country.

It’s the kitchen of Oscar Padilla, executive chef at Toro Latin Kitchen & Lounge 53-58 in Denver, Colorado.

The Los Angeles native uses his Mexican heritage as a big influence for his cuisine. He said he first learned to make traditional Mexican food from his grandmother.

"One of my purpose is to transmit these feelings and this love for Latin American food to the American culture,” Padilla said. “We have amazing ingredients coming from this culture like chipotle, tortillas, corn, a lot of spices, but here in the United States, we have a lot of local ingredients are possible to explore. And offer this amazing combination."

One of the menu items he’s serving up is pork belly mac and cheese.

"Coming from the Rocky Mountains, but you pair with something like chimichurri from Argentina. Boom! You have this beautiful combination of cultures and that is something amazing to share. You discover a new world,” he explained.

Padilla says his goal is to provide customers with more than just food.

"They feel that they don't only come for a meal. They come to be part of this beautiful family, and I feel that is one of the big influences that Latin America food is bringing to this industry,” the chef said. “To this new collaboration, with what the American culture is."

The chef says it’s not just about sharing food, but also sharing love.