Chef Noah Barnes reveals his love for Mexican cuisine and more

Another appetizer that impressed us was Beer and Chipotle Lime Fish Taco Bites. Small bites of fish placed on tiny tacos and topped with sour cream are a lip-smacking treat to pair with margaritas. We also tried the blackened Cajun fish taco stuffed with salsa is also a must try. Enchiladas also have a varied presence on the restaurant menu. Don’t forget to end your meal on a sweet and spicy note with their special chilli churros, which we think give their menu a unique twist.

The meal definitely piqued our interest in the mastermind behind it all, and we sat down with the restaurant’s chef Noah Barnes for a one-on-one. Here are excerpts from our interview:

1. When did your culinary journey start and what inspired you

It started in 2009 when I started at IHM Mumbai. My initial instinct was not towards the kitchen. However, as my domain and opportunities expanded, I realized that my creativity and expression lay in food. It became a way for me to express myself. My inspiration then turned to food, being one of those outlets where I was able to introduce myself. I am also intrigued by art and painting and this artistic side is really felt through my creations as a chef. The artist in me became more important when I challenged myself to make cooking a full-time profession.

2. What do you think is the most difficult cuisine to cook?

In my opinion, with the standardization and type of techniques used to create such masterpieces in Japanese cuisine, it is a difficult task. You need the right amount of skill, precision, and practice that only come over a period of time.

3. In your opinion, a Mexican dish deserves to go viral

Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce made with dried peppers, nuts, seeds and chocolate! The dish is complex but beautiful in its own way. The complexity is what stands out the most in this dish. Most people turn off when it comes to this particular Mexican dish because they are surprised when they hear chocolate in a flavorful composition. However, the richness of the chocolate balances out all the other elements and brings out a burst of flavor. I wish people would explore this particular dish more widely because it is so unique and yet so comforting, bringing you closer to the roots of Mexico.

4. A dish you like to cook for your customers

I like to cook everything, but to sum up, my passion goes to grilling and barbecuing. Any slow cooking technique requires time management and precision, cultivating the elements in order to achieve that right balance of flavors. The challenge of all this is what motivates me and pushes me to organize something unique and different.

5. What was the idea behind curating Miss Margarita’s menu?

The idea behind this new menu is to showcase the slow cooking techniques that are instilled in traditional Mexican cuisine like, Babaquoa 24 hour roasting, smoking, grilling and more. I wanted to highlight these techniques because not many people focus on such methods of boosting and enhancing flavors. It’s something I want my customers to savor and relish.

6. Your favorite part of the menu

The whole taco section is my favorite. Each taco will give you a completely different experience. There is no monotony here. All of our tacos are unique and retain their individuality in terms of flavor, texture and spice!

7. What’s your all-time comfort food?

My all time comfort food would be yellow dal and rice with pickles. It’s something I have every day!

8. A staple ingredient in your own kitchen

I have a huge selection of spices and experiment a lot with condiments and spice blends. I play with these textures and they allow me to bring something inspiring to my restaurant kitchen.

9. Your favorite cuisine and why

I think it goes without saying, it’s Mexican! Growing up in Bombay, I have always been fascinated by the North Indian style of cooking. Rajma, Naan – these delicacies have always been exciting to me and these spices are very close to Mexican cuisine. When I tried to make them myself, I realized many similarities to Mexican cuisine. It was then that I began my journey of curating and celebrating different flavors from around the world, Mexican being one that has stayed close to my heart.

10. Which Indian dish do you think deserves more global recognition?

I would say Vada Pav. But not your ordinary or “rip-off” recipes, the actual masala and chutney, the paos made in old-fashioned ovens. I honestly think Chouris-pav is the next big thing. Fried potatoes and masala with meat go very well with a cobbler or a well-buttered bun.

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