Chef Maria Mazon talks Michelada Mondays, food pairings and more, interview

Maria Mazon for Estrella Jalisco, photo provided by Estrella Jalisco
Maria Mazon for Estrella Jalisco, photo provided by Estrella Jalisco /

Fans of Top Chef became enamored with Chef Maria Mazon. While she might have started as the chef who loved her chilis and always offered a bountiful plate, the reality is that Chef Maria quickly became a fan favorite. Although she didn’t walk away with the Top Chef title, she did prove that her soulful cooking was as nurturing as it was delicious.

Recently, Chef Maria partnered with Estrella Jalisco and Tastemade to celebrate Michelada Mondays. This summer long celebration of the favorite Mexican beverage is the perfect time to either discover or rediscover that refreshing sip.

While Chef Maria might subscribe to the sentiment, “when life gives you lemons, make a michelada” that concept is just the first sip to enjoying this classic beverage. Whether it is time to discover a new flavor or uncover a connection that you didn’t know existed, that glass is an invitation to travel the world through flavor.

Recently, FoodSided spoke to Maria Mazon about her partnership with Estrella Jalisco, Tastemade and Michelada Mondays.

While more people have become familiar with the classic Michelada, some people are just learning about this beverage. Chef Maria said “Micheladas are a staple of Mexican culture and there are so many different, creative ways to dress up the look and flavor for your unique taste.”

Considered a “drink for everyone,” Chef Maria has a preference for her beverage. She said, “for me, I love to taste the beer and citrus in my michelada and that’s why Estrella Jalisco’s latest Classic Michelada hits the spot. They make it by blending a Mexican-style lager with Clamato and lime juice and it brings back memories of summer and spending time with family and friends. That’s what makes micheladas so great—a refreshing balance of sweet, savory and spicy that really hits the spot.”

Given all the flavor notes in a Michelada, food pairings can take on all different types of forms. Although they are “typically associated with seafood or even as a popular breakfast or brunch drink,” it isn’t the only option.

Chef Maria said, “I get inspired by pairing micheladas with things people wouldn’t expect like pasta or dishes that are hot off the grill. I’m a big griller at home. As part of my ‘Michelada Mondays’ partnership with Estrella Jalisco and Tastemade, I actually created two michelada-inspired recipes that people can recreate at home, including a Sonora Hot Dog with Thai Salsa and a Mediterranean Torta with hummus and goat cheese on a traditional Mexican bolillo roll. These dishes taste amazing alongside a flavorful michelada.”

Looking at these food pairings, many home cooks may be inspired to think outside of the can. While Chef Maria looked at bold flavors, the beverage can embrace its subtle qualities, too. Overall, it is a drink that invites everyone to take a sip and discover the many possibilities.

How food and culture influences Maria Mazon

While food television fans saw a glimpse of her approach to cooking, the celebrated chef feels a deep connection to her culture. In some ways, Chef Maria peels back the layers of who she is in each dish that she serves.

Chef Maria said, “As a Mexican chef, I believe in being authentic to myself and my heritage. Much of my style of cooking is inspired by the simplicity of meat cuts, an important feat in the north of Mexico where cattle are a part of life. Highlighting the diversity of Mexican cuisine has been the centerfold of my cooking and my intention is to translate this passion into all my recipes. As a Sonorense, I try to tie this deep, intimate connection with my heritage into everything I do in my cooking style.”

While that approach opens the door to what is possible, Chef Maria is always looking forward. Even as food lovers seeks a little culinary adventure, it is more than just an unknown ingredient or an undiscovered flavor.

Speaking to her food creativity, Chef Maria said, “I make a conscious effort to incorporate dishes that don’t get the representation that other Mexican states do, such as Jalisco, Puebla and Yucatan. The flavors of these regions offer plenty of creative inspiration to draw from, which give my guests the surprise-and-delight that they are craving for when they come to eat my food. One recipe I think your readers will enjoy is Mediterranean Torta that I created for the ‘Michelada Mondays’ campaign with Estrella Jalisco and Tastemade. I loved taking a classic Mexican street food (torta) and blending it with creamy Mediterranean goat cheese. Paired with the Michelada, the whole thing is salty, citrusy, and refreshing… I hope it makes you think of ocean breezes.”

Listening to Chef Maria describe her food, the reality is that there is emotion and passion mixed into that bite. As everyone saw in Top Chef, her food is more than just another meal on the plate. From that gigantic bowl of stew to the overflowing plate of tacos, Top Chef offered an open door to give people a glimpse of what she is capable of doing.

Appreciating the opportunity that Top Chef offered, Chef Maria said that it has impacted her in many ways. “It was a beautiful experience, that I would do it again and again. The show was my culinary school, bottom line. And as a good student I’m already applying techniques from my fellow chefs, and the invaluable feedback from the judges in my own kitchen. I’m forever grateful.”

More importantly, her time on the show proved that Mexican food is diverse and rich in culture. As Chef Maria explained, “Top Chef has been the perfect opportunity to highlight the strong cultural connections I have with Mexican food. My goal has always been to elevate Mexican cuisine and every dish I made on the show is homage to that mission. The show gave me the platform to showcase the beauty of Mexican culture on a dish and demonstrate how creative you can get with the ingredients. Now, I want to continue showcasing that rich beauty of the cuisine by collaborating with new types of partners, like I have with Estrella Jalisco and Tastemade, and keep sharing Mexican dishes with the world.”

And, of course, it had to be asked. What is Chef Maria’s secret to making the best taco?

Chef Maria revealed, “To me a taco has to be about good products. It can be as simple as egg and cheese, or more dressed up with layered roasted salsas. From chicken to lengua, the best products make the best tacos. “

Whether you enjoy the best taco, a dish from Michelada Mondays or another food creation, Maria Mazon is ready to welcome you to the culinary adventure with a refreshing Estrella Jalisco Michelada.

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How do you enjoy a Michelada? Are you ready to try the recipes from Maria Mazon?