Carlos Yescas is a cheesehead on a mission: Put the fine, outstanding artisanal cheeses of Mexico on everyone's radar screen. Yescas scours the country for the best cheese producers; then, he scours Mexico City's best restaurants for chefs that will use those cheeses on their menus. One chef he's had success with is Jorge Vallejo, owner of Quintonil, who happily uses a super-rich doble crema cheese from Chiapas to make his mother's version of huazontles, and a tangy, bouncy quesillo from Chiapas for an elegant cheese soup.
Everywhere Rick goes, he asks chefs about Mexico's up-and-coming talent. These days, Mexico City's chefs all have the same answer: Pablo Salas. The odd thing? Salas doesn't work in Mexico City - his restaurant, Amaranta, is in Toluca, about an hour's drive away. Undaunted by the trip, Rick meets Pablo at the Santiago Tianguistengo Market to get a look at the traditions that inspire Pablo's modern Mexiquense cooking - from the myriad of chorizo choices to the pasilla chiles and vegetables. The chefs also visit a local carniceria for a peek at Toluca's famed chorizo.
Mexico and chocolate go together like salsa and chips. But if you hear "Mexican chocolate" and think of something to dip churros into, you're only getting a part of the story. A few Mexico City chocolatiers see more potential for Mexican chocolate - they see single-origin chocolate bars, beautiful hand-formed truffles, even ambitious sculptures made of the stuff. Hector Galvan of La Casa Tropical talks with Rick about the cultural importance of chocolate in Mexico and why he is working so diligently to save ancient varieties of cacao.
As the restaurant scene in Mexico City has exploded, so, too, have the culinary schools. Rick takes us to the Coronado Cooking School where the mission is to educate the next generation of chefs. Rick talks with students in the traditional Mexican kitchen classroom as they make a pipian sauce for shrimp. The school's outdoor live-fire kitchen includes tortilla lessons. In the "Dave" Creative Kitchen we see a beautiful presentation of pork loin with vegetables and huaximole. Coronado's students also help run Raiz, one of Mexico City's top destination restaurants.