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The Migrant Kitchen

Mercado

On a bustling street corner in Downtown L.A., the tantalizing smell of freshly deep-fried chicharrón wafting in the air comes from a street vendor who is a master at the craft. Over at Grand Central Market, the family behind a long-standing shop has been dutifully providing Hispanic goods to the community for the last few decades.

In this episode, we get a glimpse into the lives of the two Mexican families behind these different business ventures, and explore what they have in common: hard work, dedication and hope.

At a time when an influx of immigrants fled from their countries for better labor opportunities in the United States, Celestino Lopez opened Chiles Secos, a stand in Grand Central Market that offered the community a familial sense of home. The late purveyor brought to L.A. imported Hispanic products, including mole pastes, dried chiles, spices, beans, and grains. The story of his entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance is told through his widow Antonia Lopez and granddaughter Claudia Armendariz. Armendariz now writes the next chapter in her family’s legacy, as she has taken it upon herself to keep Chiles Secos relevant as the Grand Central Market evolves into something different than what it was before.

On the other end of the spectrum, we learn about the life of the street vendor through Enrique Peralta, whose crispy pork rinds are among the best in the city. He works diligently to be a good role model to his children, and tries to positively contribute to society in any he can. While street vendors are working for their livelihood and to supplement their income, they also face painful hurdles due to pushback from police. Through their stories, both families show immigrants' ongoing struggle to make it in the land of opportunity.

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Full Episodes
Season
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Pozole broth being poured tableside at restaurant El Jardin. | Still from "The Migrant Kitchen"
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The Migrant Kitchen

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Noriko Kamei | Still from "The Migrant Kitchen" Sequoia Sake MKs3
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Pastrami sandwich at Wexler's | Courtesy of Antonio Diaz MKs3
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The Jewish Delis of Los Angeles serve an important role for connecting heritage to food. Discover the delis that make up the fabric of Los Angeles life.
Cassia's pot au feu | Courtesy of Life & Thyme
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Cassia in Santa Monica, Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park, Red Boat Fish Sauce, and Minh Phan of Porridge & Puffs are hoping to demonstrate that there’s so much more to Vietnamese culture than banh mi, spring rolls and pho.