In the latest instalment of My Life in Plates, Élodie Noël speaks to Rosio Sanchez, the chef behind the most-loved taqueria Hija de Sanchez in Copenhagen.
Born in Chicago to Mexican and American parents, Rosio Sanchez began cooking and baking at an early age. After training at the Cordon Bleu, she started working as a pastry chef in legendary wd~50 in New York. She then moved to Europe and joined Rene Redzepi’s team in Noma in Copenhagen, where she took on the role of head pastry at a very young age.
She then decided to bring tacos to the heart of Copenhagen and opened Hija de Sanchez, a contemporary taqueria paying a tribute to her Mexican roots, in Torvehallerne, the city’s renowned food market. The second taqueria opened in April 2016 in the meatpacking district of Copenhagen. She was recently at Food on the Edge in Galway to talk about food and immigration, and we used the occasion to sit down with Rosio and ask her about the most important dishes in her life.
What is your first memory of taste?
I grew up in Chicago and my dad was from Mexico. I remember him always buying fruits from corner vendors in the streets of Chicago like they also do in Mexico. I remember him buying sugar cane for us, that’s a fun memory I have.
What is the plate that made you want to be a chef?
There is not one dish, but I really love sweets! My parents didn’t cook that much, I mean, like a lot of parents, just to feed their kids, but I always thought that to know how to make dessert would be really cool. I have a big sweet tooth so I wanted to make all those amazing things. I started making very simple stuff; I had subscriptions to all the classic American food magazines, like Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and I would always try to make something. There is a generosity in cake and it was always fun, especially for someone like me, who is a little more introvert, sharing without words was a great thing to experience.
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What is the dish you don’t understand?
There is nothing that bothers me, I would try everything. When it comes to dishes or food trends I’ve experimented a lot so I don’t think there is anything I don’t understand.
What is the dish you wish you had created?
Pastry cream. It’s not a dish but I just love it.
What is the dish you can’t admit that you love?
Flaming Hot Cheetos!
What is the dish you could eat every day for the rest of your life?
I could eat bread every day. Any bread really.
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Showing a Danish friend some of our masa (corn currently from Yucatán) items used at Hija and Sanchez. It’s super important to share especially for those that haven’t grown up with mexican food, so they can also fall in love with it. ☺️Of course its only a few of all the amazing shapes and dishes in Mexican cuisine. It will take a lifetime of learning and that gets me excited! Happy Friday!
What is the dish you are the proudest of?
I couldn’t really pick one out, there are a few I really like. For example, there is a dessert I made in Noma that was super tasty, which was Potatoes and Plums with cream. It was savoury, I was trying to channel stuff I love, like frangipane, for the texture. The fact that it could translate so well and people found it so delicious was really great.
What is the dish that reminds you of your mum?
Pozole. It’s a stew usually made with pork, chiles and hominy. It’s spicy, with fresh cabbage and lime juice, and you eat it with crispy tortillas. My mum would always make this and when I would come home I’d ask her ‘can you make pozole?’, it’s comfort food. My mum is passed away, I’ve made it myself but it’s not really the same.
What is the dish you’d make for the person you love?
Roast chicken, rice and spicy salsa. It’s something that is always tasty. With my boyfriend, we cook it all the time.
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What is your death row dish?
This is really tough… It would be my mum’s pozole. For dessert, crème brûlée or vanilla ice cream.
What is the next dish you have in mind?
We just started serving an almendrado, which is an almond mole, with all the local mushrooms we could find, and rice. We wanted to bring something a little more hearty, we were waiting for these mushrooms to come and now we have a good amount, they bring these great foresty flavours.
Is there another dish that was significant for you as a chef?
There are so many moments in my life… Maybe it’s when I went to wd~50, I sat at the bar and I had a dessert tasting menu. I thought I needed to move here, I need to work in a place that has a dessert tasting menu. For me, that was a big moment and from working in there, it started my development creatively and how I think about food, how one gets inspired and how you should continue to get inspired.
Would you like to open a pastry shop?
I always wanted a pastry shop, with cakes and cookies, all the classic things but done really well. As I started working in restaurants or even in Noma, my appreciation for savoury food grew. There is a lot to learn within savoury and right now, with the restaurant, we have two desserts that don’t change that often, though we try to change the menu regularly. I always wanted a small place, dedicated to certain items, and I think I found that. They are quintessential things that I think are as cool as pastry.
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Author: Élodie Nöel
Élodie is a French journalist who relocated to Dublin about three years ago. She immediately fell in love with the island and its amazing food and has been writing about it on her blog Lemon Lipstick. You can follow Élodie's food adventures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.