Over here at Latin é, we love to eat. It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock that a Latin entertainment organizations can chow down with the best of them, because let’s be real – Latinos have the best food. I’m pretty sure that’s an irrefutable fact. From fresh tamales to an exciting plate of mofongo, mild to spicy to set your mouth on fire, Latin food as something for everyone.
We also know that Latin food brings people together. For many families (mine included), it is the heart of family get-togethers, the thing that gets us all under the same roof time and time again. It was with that in mind that we sat down with Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, the chicka behind Muy Bueno Cookbook and blog.
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas she’s an expert on good Latin food, and is currently gearing up to release an epic book of cocktails called Latin Twist, Traditional and Modern Cocktails, which is filled to the brim with cocktails from all over the Latin world. Her blog and original cookbook, Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor, infuse delicious easy-to-follow recipes with heartwarming stories of family life. We think that covers almost everything you need in life – food and family. So pull up a seat, and grab a snack, because we guarantee this interview will leave you hungry.
First off, we love your cookbook and your blog (those breakfast migas tacos are a personal favorite of mine). We love that you infuse all of your recipes with a Latin touch. Why is culture important to you?
Thank you! Being of Mexican decent it is just who I am. I grew up eating Mexican food and now as an adult I crave the flavors of Mexican food –it’s an addiction. They are comforting flavors that just envelope me like a warm sweater. Eating Mexican/Latin food feels like home to me.
I can definitely relate to that! Your love of cooking comes from your mother and grandmother. Could you share one of your fondest memories of cooking with them?
Every day my grandma would wait ’till I was almost home from school to make homemade flour tortillas. Now, as a mother, I can appreciate that even more. How special is that? She knew I loved freshly made, warm tortillas and she would make them for me. It truly warms my heart just thinking about it. Sitting there, watching her make tortillas, and talking about her childhood — those are memories I am forever grateful for.
Your first cookbook, Muy Bueno Cookbook, is fantastic. We found several go-to recipes in it, but we’re wondering – what’s your favorite recipe from it?
I love enchiladas. When I’m craving home it’s usually enchiladas. I love my mom’s famous green enchiladas and I love my grandma’s famous red ones. I can’t decide. Both are amazing!
You’re currently in the middle of co-writing a new cookbook, correct? Can you tell us more about it?
Yes, I’m so excited to go on this cocktail adventure. Its called Latin Twist, Traditional & Modern Cocktails.The book is a gorgeous hardcover book full of exotic and colorful cocktails from Latin America and Spain. It’s a little bit of geography, history, and art, all in one book. You get to understand the different kinds of cultures and the people through the spirits that they drink. The best part is that the cocktails are made with fresh fruit juice, and are easy to make. It inspires you to want to host a cocktail fiesta.
We’ll have to do that in the Latin é office one of these days. What’s been the best part of collaborating with Vianney from Sweet Life Bake?
Drinking. LOL! Just kidding, but seriously, drinking. We tested lots of recipes, and while shaking, styling photos, and drinking we really got to know each other. We work very well together. And through the magic of technology we worked some late nights via phone and email. The best part about collaborating with Vianney is the friendship we have been able to build. We trust each other. We are both Latinas who love our familia, we are entrepreneurs, mothers, and go-getters. We make magic together and our creative juices flow when we are in the same room. She might be quiet (at first), but boy she is one smart and funny cookie, or should I say margarita? I love her. 😉
You have young children, how important is it to you that your recipes be nutritious? How do you strike the balance between “fun” child-friendly recipes and healthy food?
My motto has always been – “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Our children eat what we eat. I am not a short-order cook. For the most part, we eat healthy. We try to incorporate veggies and fruits into every meal. Sure, we splurge on the occasional nacho night and tres leches for dessert, but for the most part my cooking style is fresh and light. I hate going to a restaurant when you leave feeling stuffed and miserable. Cooking at home and having my children help cook has really educated them on what’s good and not good for them. It is very important for me that my kids understand how to eat healthy. It is something I know they can take away after they leave home. They know how to make wise choices and they understand balance.
Your blog has won several awards. Which has meant the most to you?
Thank you! I am so grateful to have my blog recognized. It was a HUGE honor to meet the First Lady, Michelle Obama. It was not necessarily an “award,” but does it get better than that? We sat and talked about dinner time with our families, making healthy eating choices, and just overall health. It was a huge honor that I will treasure always. And her favorite cuisine is Mexican food, so we had lots to talk about.
My blog has also been a finalist for SAVEUR blog awards in 2012 and 2014. SAVEUR is a magazine/site for people who experience the world food first. The magazine emphasizes heritage and tradition. Home cooking and real food –just like me!
Do you have any surprises up your sleeves for 2015? Anything we should be looking out for?
A cocktail book tour is in the works, as well as planning some private parties. We really want to launch Latin Twist with a bang, and have fun doing it along the way. I look forward to meeting up with Vianney in new cities and celebrating Latin Twist together. With a cocktail in hand, of course. And I will also be busy on my YouTube channel — it’s been my new creative outlet where you can see me in my cocina doing my thang.
Who is your celebrity chef crush?
Rick Bayless. I have a thing for white boys who can speak Spanish, cook, and appreciate Mexico.
If you were going to have your last meal today, what would it be? Why?
Enchiladas of course. Because they remind me of home.
And, as a bonus question – what advice do you have for amateur chefs looking to cook more?
Buy cookbooks and magazines with photos that make your tummy growl. This is usually a good sign, and will motivate you to buy the groceries to make the recipe(s). Once you know the basic concept of following a recipe, experiment and change it up a little. Make notes and just keep cooking until your inner chef comes out.
Thank you so much for spending some time with us over here at Latin é. We can’t wait to get our hands on Latin Twist!