Mav Chefs 2015: Chef Edgar Gutierrez, Rostizado, Edmonton, Alberta
A Filipino chef famous for changing the perception of Mexican food in Edmonton — sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. Gutierrez and his partners, Dani Braun and Chris Sills, created Tres Carnales to provide street-food inspired Mexican cuisine to Edmontonians. On the wings of their success, they decided to push further and show their community exactly what Mexican food is all about and Rostizado was born. Fine dining meets the kitchen of a Latino mother in this mid-century Mexican restaurant. They make family-shared dishes with melt in your mouth roasts, salsas and churros that make you want to shout for more.
What do you love about cooking?
I love creating and infusing flavours from different cultures. The way our senses can bring back memories from childhood, travel, and life experiences is so special. It’s a real privilege to get to cook for people for a living!
What prompted you to move away from fine dining toward the more relaxed street food and family-style format?
I started cooking street-style food because I love to eat it. It was such a ritual growing up in the Philippines. Together, neighbours visit street vendors selling Banana-Q’s, Fish Balls on a Stick and Balut (duck embryo) — and it becomes a real social eating ritual. Hot, fast food with tons of flavour. It’s incredible.
Dining family-style is truly my favourite. Passing big platters around, bountiful family gatherings, lots of storytelling, ribbing and laughter. Food really is love.
How did you meet Chris Sills and Daniel Braun, and why did the three of you decide to launch Tres Carnales?
We all worked together at a local steakhouse; Chris and I entertained the idea around starting a food truck. We both went separate ways for a few years and one day I got a call from Chris about Dani coming to him with a taco shop concept. It was a no brainer — I was IN. We started researching Mexican food, with Dani taking the lead since he’s from León. When we came back to Edmonton, we started Tres Carnales Taquería and the rest is history. We are all so blessed to have found a way to reconnect and start something special.
When you, Chris and Daniel were planning your next venture, why did you decide to open Rostizado instead of opening a new location for Tres Carnales?
We started Rostizado so we can show a different side and a more modern way for Mexican cooking. Edmontonians really embraced us and our food. It was the perfect time to show our interpretation of traditional Mexican food made modern.
How do you feel about being cited as “largely responsible for changing the general perception of Mexican food” in Edmonton?
Oh wow — it’s so humbling and we are all so thankful for the support. Mexican food was starting to evolve, with new restaurants opening all over the world that honour authentic Mexican flavours and preparation (not Tex-Mex or fast food). I’m so proud when I look up from the line and see the Mexican community dining with us. I feel like we’ve accomplished something really special.
What role does social media play in your life and in your kitchen?
In my personal life, I’m pretty low-key on social media. I really don’t have time for it because I’m working so much but for Tres Carnales and Rostizado, sharing new menu items, daily specials and everyday goings on in the kitchen is really important. Our fans are so engaged and send us so much love online. It not only keeps me and my kitchen inspired to keep putting out delicious, mouth-watering dishes — we love to use social media to express our thanks and shout-outs.
A restaurant is more than just its main dishes. What do you do to ensure that the side dishes are as impressive as the mains and why?
I treat all ingredients the same, whether its huitlacoche or foie gras, with respect. It doesn’t matter how much it costs or if it’s the hot new trend — the bottom line is that there’s a good chance, before it was on my cutting board, that many, many people were involved in getting it to me. With that in mind, when my team and I are creating new sides to accompany our signature RostiPollo and RostiPuerco, we think about all those people and making them proud of the work they do. We hope showcasing their products in the best way possible keeps them doing what they are passionate about each day.
It’s easy for restaurants like yours to get quality ingredients. Can you still cook something good with frozen or grocery store ingredients?
We don’t have freezers at our restaurants, so I’m lucky to cook with the freshest ingredients all the time. Growing up, my mom certainly cooked with frozen foods and there’s nothing wrong with it. After all, they are picked at their prime BUT in the summertime, I encourage people to visit the farmers’ market and really get to know the vendors.
flan de queso
Makes 10 ramekins (4 oz)
“So easy to make and very impressive for the ladies!”
- 250 g cream cheese (room temperature)
- 16 eggs
- 3 cans Carnation Evaporated Milk
- 3 cans Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, slivered
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
In a blender, combine cream cheese, eggs, evaporated milk, condensed milk and vanilla. Blend for 3 minutes at medium speed.
Strain mixture using a fine sieve and place in a cooler or fridge for 1 hour.
Make caramel by mixing sugar and water in a pot. Place on the stove and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. DO NOT STIR. Handle with care.
Pour equal amounts of caramel in ramekins or moulds and let stand for 5 minutes.
After sugar has set, pour cheese mixture into the ramekins. Place in a bain marie and place in the oven for 30 to 45 min.
Let cool for 24 hours, covered.
Take a thin knife and run it along the side of the custard (between the custard and the ramekin); flip the ramekin upside down onto a plate. Top with toasted almonds and enjoy.
Match: Don’t overwhelm this delicate dish with an overly sweet sticky. Open a bottle of sparkling or a Moscato d’Asti.
Rostizado, 102, 10359 104 Street, Edmonton, Alberta Canada