We had 5 minutos to catch up with Señora Nicole, chef at The Loco Group. Check out where’s her favourite restaurant in Mexico and which local dish she loves the most!
Where are you from?
I was born in the US, however my parents are both Mexican and I spent majority of my childhood living in Mexico City.
Why did you choose to become a Chef?
Being in the kitchen always came natural to me, it was like my happy place since I was young. I've loved to cook ever since I can remember. When I was 3 my father gifted me my first knife so I could help him make brunch on Sundays, since then I just remember always spending time in the kitchen. It wasn't until I was 16 that I realized I could actually choose cooking as a career path. I came to learn about The Culinary Institute of America in NY and 2 years later I was enrolled in their Bachelors degree.
What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?
I don't know if I have one particular favorite ingredient, I love cooking food that highlights specific produce and seasonality and I particularly love highlighting vegetables since I think we commonly forget what vegetables should really taste like and how delicious they are.
However, when it comes to Mexican food I would say my favourite ingredient is avocado leaf because the aroma in it is so unique, it elevates the flavor profile of whatever you use it for. My favorite dry chili is the "morita chili" (dried chili) since it has a raisin like sweetness to it with balanced heat.
What is your favourite restaurant in Mexico?
Contramar is my #1 stop every time I go back, the food, beverage, and service are all spectacular. For homestyle traditional Mexican food I love El Bajío, and for the best carnitas you must go to Los Panchos.
What’s your best restaurant dining experience and why?
It's hard to pick one, but recently I travelled through Thailand with my sister and somehow we ended up in a tiny shop having these delicious coconut shrimp noodles! After having been walking around in 40ºC weather the shop owners received us with huge smiles and such kindness we felt wonderful, they even offered to bring us ice cold beers from the shop next door. It was a simple experience, but so special at the same time that I'll never forget it.
Who inspires you and why?
I'm constantly inspired by my sister who fights for gender equality every day and inspires hundreds of other women to push boundaries and fight for what they believe in, including myself. I'm inspired by many rising chefs who are women and are trying to push our industry in a different direction.
Tequila, Mezcal – what’s your pick and favourite?
Mezcal! Mezcal is simply amazing, whether in a cocktail or on it's own with a little worm salt (traditional condiment to mezcal), some orange slices, and a cold beer on the side.
What’s your favourite local Singaporean dish?
Shrimp Paste Chicken Wings with sambal at Alexander Village.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Probably eating $1 pizza off the street after midnight.
If you were a luchadora, what would be your fighting name, and would you be a good guy or a bad guy?
I think I would be a good guy with a secret bad side; like don't make me angry because you'll get the other side of me haha. I think my luchadora name would be "Reina Navajas" which translates to "Queen of Blades". :)