Chef Joann’s Culinary Adventure Throughout Mexico

Chef Joann’s Culinary Adventure Throughout Mexico

Chef Joann, the mastermind behind Prepared with Purpose, recently traveled to Mexico so we sat down to talk to her about her trip and how it influenced her culinary approach. Live vicariously through her travels:


Q: Was this your first trip to Mexico?
No, but this was my first time to the Riviera de Maya. Previously, I’ve only been to Baja.IMG_0047Q: What did you discover in Mexico that you plan on bringing to your dishes?
It was a good reminder to always keep things simple and fresh. I always practice using quality, fresh and mostly local ingredients, but in the process of staying relevant and providing a lot of variety to my clients, I sometimes over complicate a dish. This was a good reminder to keep it simple and let the beautiful ingredients do the talking. The people in that region of the country eat primarily seafood, vegetables, fruit, potatoes and corn. IMG_7297
Q: Was there anything you tried on this trip that you hadn’t had before?
I’m a very adventurous eater, so I can’t recall anything on this trip that I haven’t tried before as far as food is concerned. But one memorable thing that I was really impressed by was the mezcal. Not Whole30! But this particular mezcal was oak barrel aged in Oaxaca and served with a side of sliced Mango con Chile. Very delicious, smoky and smooth and the mango “chaser” was a lovely accompaniment to the drink. IMG_7303
Q: Besides the food, what was your favorite part about Mexico?
The people. Where we visited, the people are very, very poor. But I never once saw anyone that looked miserable. Always children playing in the streets laughing and smiling and men and woman walking by saying hello or good morning/afternoon.  Everyone was incredibly friendly and happy. I felt very safe and at home. Another memorable and humbling experience about the people there was when we visited a cemetery. The graves were all above ground like in New Orleans, because of floods, but the markers were mostly made of wood or cement and nearly all of them had just handwriting on them with the person’s family name and dates of birth and death. No fancy, ornate carvings or etchings. No fancy marble or granite and no giant statues. It was very humbling also because I couldn’t find a single marker with someone that lived over 65 years old. There were many young people and even children buried there. Yet it was a very peaceful place and a village that was vibrant and happy.IMG_0045

Q: While on vacation, do you cook?
Yes. This time I only made one breakfast though. The food was so fresh, clean and inexpensive, it didn’t really make sense to cook.


Q: Do you have a favorite meal from this trip?
That’s rough! My favorite meal in Tulum was our first meal there. It was at a place called El Asadero and the whole menu was just grilled meat and seafood with veggies and potatoes. A paleo dieter’s dream! My favorite meal in Isla Mujeres was the mixed ceviche from La Lomita. It was the best ceviche I have ever tasted in my life. Hands down. So fresh and simple. And they served all of the food and drink in these beautiful hand-made ceramic plates, bowls and cups. They freeze the cups too so your margarita stays frosty the whole meal!


Q: What’s your favorite ingredient to cook with and why?
That’s tough! Probably heirloom tomatoes when they are really in season around mid July. They require little to no other ingredients to be amazing. I like to slice them and top with prosciutto, basil and avocado as a dairy-free version of a caprese salad. So delicious!