Enrique Olvera ’99 is an internationally renowned chef and owner of Grupo Enrique Olvera.
His restaurants in Mexico City include the award winning Pujol, Molino El
Pujol, a totilleria for making traditional tortillas, three Eno gourmet coffee
shops, and Casa Teo—a culinary workshop and small inn named one of the greatest
places to visit in 2018 by Time
magazine. Further afield from Mexico, Olvera owns Moxi at Hotel Matilda in San
Miguel de Allende and Manta at The Cape Hotel in Cabo San Lucas. His first restaurant
outside of Mexico is Cosme in New York City, named after a market in Mexico
City where Olvera’s grandfather took him as a young boy. He also opened Cata, a
tapas bar located in the Bowery, and Alta that serves modern Mexican cuisine in
Cosme has garnered much recognition. It was nominated for the 2015 James
Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant Award, named 2015 Restaurant of the Year
by Eater.com, listed as one of the Best Restaurants of 2015 by Food
& Wine, and the recipient of a three-star review from The New York Times. Cosme’s
chef de cuisine, Daniela Soto-Innes, took home the 2016 James Beard Foundation
Rising Star Chef of the Year honors.
Olvera was born in Mexico City. He moved to the United States to enroll at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, graduating with an associate degree in 1997. He went on to earn his CIA bachelor’s degree
in 1999. During his studies, Olvera earned various awards, including a
gold medal from the New York Société Culinaire Philanthropique and the
Jacob Rosenthal Leadership Award from the college.
After graduation, he got his first job at Everest, one of Chicago’s most
exclusive restaurants. In 2000, armed with classical training and haute cuisine
experience, Olvera returned to Mexico City to open his own restaurant, Pujol, a
slurring of pozole, his nickname in school. There, he embarked on
an exploration of Mexico’s culinary riches—reinterpreting and rearticulating
its flavors, styles, and techniques from the perspective of contemporary
cooking. “Pujol is how I picture Mexico City, and how I want people to
experience Mexico,” Olvera explains. “It’s not nostalgic, it’s a little bit
loud, a little bit of a mess, and very Mexican.” He is respected by fellow
chefs worldwide for his creations. As Ferran Adrià says, “There was Mexican
food before Enrique Olvera, and Mexican food after Enrique Olvera.”
Pujol is ranked #13 on the 2018 S.Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurant
list and number three on the 2018 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Olvera was named the 2015 International Chef of the Year by The Daily Meal and
received The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award for Latin
America. He has earned a well-deserved accolade from his fellow elite
professionals across the region—the Chefs’ Choice Award, voted for by the chefs
of the S.Pellegrino Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Pujol now proudly
serves as an approved internship site for current CIA students, so Olvera can
pass on lessons he learned to future graduates of the college.
Olvera has published two books: La Nueva Cocina Mexicana, in 2000;
and his first English-language cookbook, entitled Mexico From the Inside
Out, in October 2015.
In 2012, Olvera, along with the Colectivo Mexicano de Cocina A.C., launched
Mesamérica, a three-day conference to promote Mexican gastronomy outside of
Mexico and bring the country into the global culinary conversation. “With
Mesamérica, efforts, funds, and contacts could be combined under one roof and
strengthen Mexico’s hospitality industry,” Olvera explains.
In the fall of 2018, Olvera will be a judge on the international culinary
competition, The Final Table. He was
featured in the second season of Chef’s Table, the critically
acclaimed show created by filmmaker David Gelb. Olvera is a frequent conference
guest and lecturer, and has appeared at the MAD symposium in Copenhagen and
Denmark, and Gastronomika in San Sebastian, Spain. He’s contributed to several
Latin Flavors, American Kitchen conferences at The Culinary Institute of
America, San Antonio. On April 20, 2016, at the 18th annual Worlds of Flavor®
conference, Olvera was the keynote speaker, presenting The Voice of
the Chef: Developing a Personal Philosophy Through Heritage and Training.
“I want Mexican food to keep moving,” he told CNN. “I
understand that we have beautiful traditions. I feel very proud of those
traditions, but I want to keep on building new ones for future generations. I
think we can have a huge impact not only on agriculture but in the way that
people eat and their health, in the way our cities grow, and in the way that
our culture is carried forward. Food has an influence in almost every part of