AN INTERVIEW WITH WAHACA CO-FOUNDER & CHEF THOMASINA MIERS
With her new venture, ‘Burrito Mama’ opening at London’s One New Change tomorrow, Dotty Dishes chatted to Wahaca co-founder and chef Thomasina Miers about Burrito Mama, Wahaca and all things Mexican.
When you opened the first Wahaca in Covent Garden, did you expect it to do as well as it has?
Definitely not. We obviously hoped that it would do well. I knew that Mexican food was delicious and amazing and I had a sneaking suspicion that other Brits would feel the same way, but it was a huge rush and great that we were so popular from the word go.
You have 12 branches open now in London, are there any plans to expand outside London? My sister lives in Manchester and is a huge Wahaca fan and wishes there was a branch based there!
YES! Of course we want to grow outside London. It is all up to finding the right sites for us but we definitely want to open in Manchester and Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Bognor, Brighton etc, etc.
Do you think the awareness and love of Mexican food has grown a lot in London since Wahaca first opened?
Are you crazy?! Mexican Mania is sweeping the country. Haven’t you seen the latest McDonald’s menus?
I enjoyed your recent cookery show ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’. Do you often go to Mexico to discover new Mexican recipes and inspiration for your Wahaca menu?
Yes, I go at least once a year, sometimes twice. It is absolutely integral to what I do. If our menu doesn’t change then we all die a little bit inside. We have to keep innovating and learning new things to stay loving what we do here.
You open Burrito Mama tomorrow. Out of all the Mexican dishes at Wahaca, why did you decide to specialize your new venture in burritos?
Burritos are a speciality of Northern Mexico. They were never a core part of what we did on the Wahaca menu but we felt that they were still better than a lot of the burritos you could get out there with our lovingly prepared slow-cooked meats. We thought it would be fun to try our hand at specialising in them. We’ll see how people like them…
Do you think burritos, and Mexican food in general, work well as takeaway good? Have you ever thought about opening a Wahaca takeaway branch that delivers?
Burritos definitely work well as takeaway food but not all the other dishes do. There is nothing worse than a cold taco. I think we are having enough fun with Wahaca to focus on takeaway food. We like showing people a good time with our cocktails too much!
I have to ask! What is your favourite burrito? I think the slow-cooked Pork or Chicken Tinga at Wahaca are hard to beat!
I love the Mexican Mama which is a burrito without rice so it has twice the flavour and less heft to it. Our slow-cooked pork is hard to beat but sometimes I go crazy and go for a 50/50 which gives me two choices for the price of one.
You recently launched Wahaca Sauces in Sainsbury’s (which I am a big fan of, especially the Smoky Chipotle!). Are there any plans to expand the range of Wahaca brands on sale in the supermarket?
Yes, we really want to widen the range although it is moving slowly at the moment whilst we focus on the menus in the restaurants (I was a bit busy having a baby recently too which was focus enough).
You are a blogger yourself with the Wahaca blog. Do you find it hard to juggle everything else and writing entries for the blog?
YES! But luckily we have a dedicated team to help on the Wahaca blog. Finding time to tweet is another story. I am very sporadic but I think that’s more fun as it’s real and natural. Ther is not always the time to tweet when you are busy living.
With the recent Day of the Dead Festival, what is your perfect Mexican dish for celebrating?
A margarita! With home-made guacamole for some nutrition…
Burrito Mama, opening tomorrow in the heart of St Paul’s, will feature a variety of high-quality, traditional toasted burritos, as well as healthier salads and burrito pots, which will be ready for collection in around 30 seconds and available to eat in or takeaway. Customers will be able to order from one of the Burrito Mama team or using the self-service screens and even use the Burrito Mama app, so you can order beforehand and jump the queue when they come to collect.
Dotty Dishes cannot wait to visit and try out a burrito!
For more information visit http://www.burritomama.co.uk/.