Meet the Chef: Andrea Martínez, main Mexican culinary heavyweight
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, chef Andrea Martínez began improving her skills in the Pangea kitchen. It was ranked 14th in San Pellegrino’s Latin America 50 Best under chef Guillermo Gonzalez Beristain. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2006 and worked in New York and Washington DC under Executive Chef Richard Sandoval.
During her 18 years in professional kitchens, she was part of numerous festivals and events in Mexico and the United States that represented northeast Mexican cuisine. She was named one of the best young chefs in Mexico by Entrepreneur Magazine and Almanaque de la Cocina Mexicana.
As a Top Chef Mexico participant in the show’s first season, she competed alongside Mexico’s best chefs of her generation. She has also taught at Culinaria Pangea and directed the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in Monterrey. In 2015, she opened her first restaurant, Comuna, in partnership with Rivero González, a northeastern Mexican winery based in Parras, Coahuila, and an office in Long Island, New York.
Andrea’s goal is to get in contact with people from all over the world through her recipes
Her latest project, Casa Liebre, is a website, online shop, and social media platform where she shares her recipes, artisanal gourmet products, and cooking tips with people around the world. LLM – The author of Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, Jyoti Balani, spoke to Andrea about her joy in connecting with people all over the world through her kitchen and she spoils us with a recipe of her own.
Do you have a favorite time of year or a set of ingredients you’d like to work with?
I’ve always been a winter person, so root vegetables, hearty stews, and slow-cooked stews have always been my favorite chef. But changing seasons inspire me again and again. Going from winter to spring is also my favorite.
What would you do if you weren’t a cook?
I want to be an actress, tennis player and detective.
Do your personal preferences affect the menu at all?
Now that I’ve been sharing my recipes on social media, I feel a lot freer to cook my whims. It’s liberating not to worry about dishes being stars on a menu. But I’ve always cooked for others and I definitely still try to make popular dishes to share. I believe in “the more the merrier” and that is my goal now to connect with people from all over the world through my recipes.
Andrea says that she doesn’t limit herself to any particular cuisine, but that her dishes always have a Mexican influence
What do you think is the most overhyped food trend right now?
I think there are so many trends at the same time that I have trouble keeping track of those trends. I’ve noticed an increase in the popularity of “instant” cooking appliances. I think these devices make meal preparation easy for people on tight schedules while also allowing them to cook real, not fast food.
When are you happiest
When I’m in good company
If you’re not in the kitchen, where can you be found?
Eating with friends. Going to a restaurant is my favorite thing to do. Hiking is also what I do a lot now since we’ve been locked up for so long. I take acting classes as a hobby.
Andrea finds that cooking online frees her to produce lots of different things that she may not have done before
Where do you prefer to dine?
I’ve never eaten anywhere.
What’s your favorite takeaway or convenience?
Shepherd style tacos! Forever. Never take away. Corn tortillas suffer terribly.
What makes the local food scene so exciting?
All of the changes local restaurants have made during this pandemic have made the city feel very fresh and new. Amazing projects have sprung up at the take-away front, led by the best restaurants in town. Good quality fast food is a big deal now.
Which dish are you most proud of and why?
I am always proud of the last dish I cooked.
Andrea likes to try new things, whether it’s cooking a dish out of the fridge or taking acting classes!
You have friends for dinner tonight. What is on the table?
I love opening my fridge and making something with what’s there. It’s like a fun challenge and this is how I reduce waste and try new combinations that I hadn’t thought of. Plus, there is an extra homemade feel that my friends enjoy.
Name your favorite city that has it all: food, culture and nightlife.
Mexico City and New York City.
Can you tell us more about your food and the cuisine you specialize in?
After Casa Liebre transformed into a digital platform where I share recipes and techniques that I’ve learned throughout my career, I don’t limit myself to one particular cuisine, but my dishes always have a Mexican influence. I’m in Monterrey, a northeastern city in Mexico. Even if I make pasta, my version of it will somehow have an ingredient or technique from here.
I can see more people from all over the world are tuning in to my social media or website now. So I’m trying to make some recipes with ingredients that almost everyone in their country can have. One of our short term goals is to be able to ship our products worldwide and to create videos in English so we can reach more people.
Andrea shares recipes and techniques learned throughout her career through Casa Liebre online
Andrea’s recipe from roasted beet and grapefruit salad
2 large beets
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1/2 cup of roasted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon. sea-salt
For the vinaigrette
1 tablespoon. Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon. honey
1 tablespoon. soy sauce
3 TBSP. Rice vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Make a toasted beet and grapefruit salad according to Andrea’s own recipe
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes until ready. Take out of the oven and throw away the aluminum so it can cool down. Remove the skin with your hands when it is at a manageable temperature. Cut into slices and set aside.
2. Cut the grapefruit to the same thickness as the beets and cut the rinds with a knife. Discard the seeds with a toothpick.
3. For the vinaigrette, put the Dijon mustard, honey, soy, rice vinegar and pepper in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients together. Add the olive oil while stirring in a gentle stream to emulsify the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt.
4th Place the beet and grapefruit slices on a plate. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Finish the dish with fresh thyme leaves, sea salt and the roasted sunflower seeds.