Spicing things up with Zarela Martinez

me & Zarela MartinezLast night I had the privilege of attending a culinary workshop taught by Zarela Martinez, chef and owner of the renowned Zarela’s. Zarela had contacted me after seeing Margarita, Guacamole Happy Birthday and was nice enough to invite me to this wonderful demonstration on how to work with Chilies. Since I know very little about cooking Mexican food and even less about chilies, I figured I might as well learn from the best…

If you’ve ever met Zarela, you already know she’s a character. From the beginning up until the very end of the workshop she recited anecdotes about her personal and professional life which though extended the length of the workshop, was extremely entertaining and enjoyable to learn about her interesting experiences. But in between stories, she did make some time for demonstrations, which proved to be quite helpful for home chefs like me.

Zarela's ChefThe workshop theme was Three Chilies, Nine Dishes. Zarela demonstrated how to create three basic preparations or building blocks using Jalapeno, Chipotle and Poblano chiles that one can use in a variety of dishes. And to my suprise, the dishes she created were actually fairly easy to make! Well, except for the vegetarian Tamales, but I wouldn’t try making those anyway…

Zarela's Cooking Class & David Burke's Townhouse Event 025 Zarela's Chipotle Chicken Zarela's Stringbeans

But aside from learning a few new things in the kitchen, Zarela also shared some words of wisdom with us. I’ve selected a few favorites to share with all of you:

When using salt…

Zarela’s only uses Kosher salt (Iodized salt breaks down textures of meat & produce)

When ordering supplies for her restaurant…

If you don’t give me my first order free, I will never serve your product in my restaurant (To this day she has never served a Corona in Zarela’s)

Tips on buying spices…

Never buy ground spices, you’re throwing away your money (Zarela’s has all spices ground to order)

Thoughts on housekeeping…

It’s better to starve than to be without help

Life Lessons…

Alone one cannot share life

Which is ultimately why Zarela invited us all to spend a special evening listening to her stories, learning her culinary expertise, and sharing this culinary experience with one another.

Zarela's Cooking Class & David Burke's Townhouse Event 005 Zarela's Pork Rind Salad Zarela's Red Snapper Tacos

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4 Responses

  1. Another great post and my gratitude, I just want to clarify that comment on buying supplies: I opened my restaurant with $20,000 working capital and I told all the purveyors who had done business with me at Cafe Marimba that if they didn’t believe in me enough to give me my first order free, I’d never buy from them. Everyone did except Corona and I’ve never served it in 21 years!

    Maybe I talked too much?

  2. Zarela es una personalidad facinante. Te cuenta cada anecdota tan llena de vida y valla que tiene mucha y diversas experiencias. Me encanta ser su prima y su admiradora. Any

  3. […] 12     Hartley’s Confections, Spicing things up with Zarela Martinez, Jennifer […]

  4. […] you’ve ever been to Zarela’s you already know that they have the best margarita’s in NYC. And why you might ask… because […]

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