Jair Tallez Discusses Regional Mexican Food And His Residencia Patron Experience - Exclusive Interview

Jair Téllez might be best known for his restaurant MeroToro, which continues to be named among the top restaurants in Mexico City. Téllez is quick to explain that his work and restaurants do not perform for accolades. Instead, they reflect the dedication and passion he has for Mexican cuisine and the industry. That might be why he has recently teamed up with Patrón tequila

The noted chef will even be in attendance at the Residencia Patrón in New York on March 25th and 26th, where he will prepare and share food for the event, according to NYC Unplugged. The ticketed event is open to those who are 21 or older and have proof of vaccination, but space is limited. Téllez spoke to Mashed in an exclusive interview to discuss not only his recent success and passion for authentic Mexican food, but also to discuss his new partnership with the renowned tequila brand.

Téllez on notoriety and his partnership with Patrón

How did it feel to be named one of the top 50 restaurants in Mexico City?

It is always great to be [recognized]; however, that's not what we work for nor strive for. We have fortunately made the list for a few years as [a best restaurant] and we're grateful for the recognition, but we don't celebrate that much because ... There's so many things that really depend on us, like giving the guests an amazing experience, cooking amazing food, hosting our people in the best possible way. That depends on us, but being on the list in the end doesn't depend 100% on us, so we cannot be putting a lot of effort into that.

Can you tell us about your partnership with Patron and the upcoming event in New York and what you're looking forward to most?

I'm very excited. I've been looking forward for it. There's been other reports from it, a [merger of talent and conditions] where we are going to be able to go to New York and showcase what we do of the idea of contemporary Mexican things that are well done and based on tradition and based on authenticity. [With] what Patrón does and also, resource wise, this makes a lot of sense.

Téllez on enjoying tequila at home

What should people look for when pairing tequila with dishes at home?

Keep the alcohol level light so it doesn't dominate and also work with temperatures ... Even though Mexican food is very spicy, overly spicy food won't work for everyone. It will exponentiate the natural alcohols, but it works perfectly in the gustatory way, and it can also work perfectly in terms of the cultural congruence. For example, if you are eating a barbacoa, which is a Mexican preparation, it will work very well with tequilas because barbacoa is cooked with the agave and the agave, it lends some sort of taste. That's how I think about it.

How readers can set up their own tequila tasting at home?

First of all, realize why are you doing the tasting. Is it for fun, or is it to really want to have a very [formal] approach? That's how I would do it. Sometimes, at home, it can be something not so technical and more around the experience and what people share with people. Maybe it's worth creating some sort of canvas that can be some food that's related to the particular [tequila] that would do those things and create the ambience, because [technically], these things can be challenging when you don't have that. I don't have that. I'm a cook. I'm not a sommelier nor an expert in tasting, so I go more around creating the ambience, creating the canvas, creating the conditions for people to enjoy. It's always fun to try [things] from different producers and different grape yards from way different altitudes and relate what you taste to the information you have.

Téllez on Mexican cuisine

Can you share a few ways that fans can make better drinks, as well as Mexican recipes at home for a more authentic experience?

As I tell you, I'm more like a cook than a tequila taster, so I will always go and resort to food. Basically my answer, for natural reasons, would be the food that makes sense, and also some amount of [body or viscosity]. So many things. Acidity is great. Also, texture, something crunchy that works in your brain in a way that creates color, it creates a palate of sensations that will add to the experience and make it fun. Because in the end, artistically, we're not professional tasters, but I want to taste.

Can you name a few of your favorite trending flavors or ingredients in Mexican cuisine?

I like [ingredients] that bring me to the earth. There's a tonality of flavor in Mexican cuisine that tends to go towards the earth and it can be mole, or it can be some inserts, or it can be some beans cooked with avocado leaves. I like that sensation. I like that kind of taste. I find it very authentic, very Mexican, and it's inspiring for me.

What do you think it is about the food scene in Mexico that has drawn travelers and more people to come and experience it over the last several years?

For one thing, it's real. For many reasons, Mexican food came of age a few years ago. We always knew, but [since] a few years ago, it has gone exponential. Yes, there's a lot of substance ... [with] Mexican food ... you need to have a lot of regional foods, no? It's those regional foods that really result in what we know as Mexican food and it's fascinating and it's a huge country, and there's a lot of different cultural diversity. It's a world by itself. It's a well deserved ... it makes a lot of sense that [there's] all this attention. I don't even know all of it. I'm still surprised every day by the things we find.

Can you share one ingredient that you can't live without?

Salt. If there's one ingredient that is essential for me, it's salt.

If you could have one other celebrity chef cook for you, who would it be?

Oh, there's so many great ones. Inaki Aizpitarte.

What is your guilty pleasure or go-to fast food order?

Carne asada tacos.

Residencia Patrón takes place on Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26, in Chelsea's Gallery Row at Studio 525 in New York City. You can join a waitlist to see if additional tickets are made available before each event.