Chef Pati Jinich believes that the kitchen is a noble space, interview

Chef Pati Jinich, photo provided by Gran Centenario
Chef Pati Jinich, photo provided by Gran Centenario /

Sitting down at a table with Chef Pati Jinich is an invitation that involves more than a flavorful food. The spirited conversation behind the where, why and how one dish transformed humble ingredients into a stunning plate adds a flavor that many people might not expect. In her kitchen, the stories are integral to the most flavorful food.

As a James Beard Award winning television host, cookbook author, and historian, chef Pati Jinich enjoys sharing her knowledge with those who are willing to listen. It is more than turning a page on the importance of great ingredients or the nuance of a cooking method. For her, it is about the traditions that are woven into the dish’s foundation.

While many chefs can recite the importance of certain cooking techniques and intricacies of certain ingredients, Jinich explains food in a different way. In some ways, that time in front of the stove fuels a fire that needs to be stoked long after the food is eaten off the plate. It is a desires to learn more and appreciate the journey along the way.

During a recent conversation with Jinich, she made a very profound statement. She said, that “cooking in the kitchen is a noble space.” Jinich believes that people “are prone to be open, receptive and empathetic.” Like the perfect seasoning in a dish, the background to a recipe makes each taste even more magical.

Chef Pati Jinich believes that food offers the ultimate connection

While recipes might be a journey through history, it is more than just a bridge between the past and the present. Beyond that primal “need to feed ourselves,” Jinich believes that “connecting with food is connecting with something.” Even if people do not speak the same language, everyone understands food.

Jinich made a simple analogy that can resonate with anyone. Beyond those heirloom recipes passed down through the generations, almost every culture has a version of a chicken soup. That concept is something that everyone appreciates. A simple bowl of soup offers a spoonful of comfort in times of need. Regardless of the specific ingredients, everyone appreciates the concept of a chicken soul soothing away the problems.

In some ways, that sense of universality can be wrapped up in a simple statement from Jinich’s son. Over the past year, her son that the tortilla was his suitcase. Tightly wrapped in that flour was a way to explore, learn and enjoy all different places through flavor and ingredients.

In some ways, that simple statement is what draws people to food. One day, the plate holds a sense of adventure while other days, it is a familiar tale. No matter the direction, that food on the plate is full of possibilities.

Enjoy a forkful of past, present and future with Jinich’s two-part PBS Primetime Special “La Frontera” October 15 and 22 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.

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