Cinco de Mayo is this weekend and depending on the types of people you have in your life, you could be drinking a jalapeño-infused margarita on a rooftop with your maxi dress flowing in the early May breeze, or you could be pounding nachos with your bros at a
totally racist frat party. Wherever the holiday takes you, don’t be the guy who shows up with a bag of Tostitos or pony bottles of Corona Light.
We reached out to 11 celebrity chefs for advice on exactly what to bring to the millions (maybe one) Cinco de Mayo parties we’d be attending this weekend. Before getting your shopping list handy, here’s how some of them will be celebrating the holiday:
Bobby Flay says, “I’ll be celebrating with lots of margaritas obviously. This weekend is a tough one… Bourbon on Saturday for Derby day and tons of tequila for Cinco de Mayo.” Tough? Or just awesome.
Andrew Zimmern plans to celebrate by watching the world premiere of Border Check, his Travel Channel pilot that airs at 5:00 PM ET. “We shot it in Mexico, hence the Cinco de Mayo air date.” He describes the show as, “a new way of looking at travel television [that] asks the question ‘where does one place end and another begin?'” If it’s this Sunday, it better begin and end with margaritas, amiright?
While we only wish we could be partying with
Nadia G (she of the Bitchin’ Kitchen), we know we’ll be spending the day after in much the same way. “I’m pretty sure the 6th will be spent staring at empty bottles of Tres Generaciones Anejo un-tagging myself on Facebook.”
Justin Warner’s celebrating with “mayo on everything!” and Kevin Gillespie is hoping to get some proximity cred “by building a restaurant ( Gunshow) right next to a Mexican restaurant!” Good thinking, guys.
For a menu’s worth of ideas on what you can bring to soak up all the tequila that you and your friends will be sharing this weekend, check out the gallery. We can’t promise all the answers are replicable.
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fashion plate himself keeps it simple, recommending that party guests bring "lots of tequila and limes," and reflecting on his favorite Mexican dish. "Always tacos. I can still remember the first time I tasted them. I was working on a cruise ship and after days at sea cooking aggressively in a kitchen, there was nothing like hitting land. I remember going to this tiny stand and had no idea what I was eating. Then I put these little rolled up tortillas filled with meat and salsa in my mouth, and I've been hooked ever since."
Nadia G. of
Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen
Nadia's rec is a way to impress other guests: "Guacamole topped with fresh pomegranate seeds -- trust: those juicy, sweet-tart seeds add bursts of awesome freshness and bring creamy guacamole to a the next level." But her personal favorite dish "punches you in the face hole (but in a good way)." If you guessed carnitas, you're right. She "can’t get enough of that succulent roasted pork ([and] also can’t get enough of the word ‘succulent’)."
rapping Pope and potential lipgloss wearer's favorito is "Tacos de Lengua!" He tried them, "very ironically, at a Japanese restaurant. The head hot-line chef, a Mexican named German, made them for me first. I was blown away by how tender and flavor-packed the little nuggets were. It is now my litmus test for any taco joint claiming to be 'authentic.'" What he recommends bringing to a party this weekend might be a little harder to capture: "Alex Stupak."
Possibly our favorite rhyming recommendation of all time, the
Top Chef Season 6 chef-testant says to bring, "my famous chonchos in ponchos. It's a Mexican version of pigs-in-a-blanket. Take a spicy sausage and add queso Oaxaca and jalapeños and roll in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Then brush with garlic butter and sprinkle chile powder and cotija cheese on top." Well, that's brilliant. He loves Mexican food all-around: "It's in my top three favorite cuisines of the world. I really like a properly made enchilada like you get in Mexico. And I really like a chile relleno. It's hard to get it right -- needs to be dipped, fried and served incredibly fresh."
(Photo Credit: Angie Mosier)
"Some of my favorites include anything with molé, green chile enchiladas, and guacamole with tons of cilantro. Why? Because I find the flavors intoxicating! You should bring things that travel well like salsas, guacamole, queso fundido, and enchiladas in a casserole dish that can go in [the oven] easily to be reheated."
No bizarre foods here, he suggests bringing "
Patricia Quintana’s duck mole, tlayudas, tamales, a big flan caramello, and plenty of fruity ices for dessert." Mr. Manners that he is, he also reminds us to "be a generous guest." His favorite Mexican dish isn't as easily delivered to your weekend fiestas, but a great read nonetheless: "Trompo. It’s a great breakfast soup and I can eat it every morning. It's a hangover cure, sold on the street by cart vendors, a working man's beef soup that gets a heady splash of chile and lime. I toss some cilantro and onion and walk down the streets of Mexico City on my way to wherever I am going, and it’s a perfect way to start the day. Soup is my favorite breakfast."
(Photo Credit: Steve Henke)
David Santos of Louro
Bouley alumn is "on a mission to save the ramps" from being over-harvested. (Good luck). He recommends -- NOT RAMPS -- but "Some nice poblano chiles stuffed with raisins, pumpkin seeds, cheese, and chorizo, then battered and fried," as party favors. "They taste so good and the raisins and nuts add such a great, complex balance." As for his personal favorite, "there is nothing better than a beef tongue or pig's ear taco with fresh avocado, pickled peppers and salsa. The flavors run the gamut of something that has been cooked so beautifully long, to the fresh accompaniments and everything in between. It’s a beautiful thing."
Cake Boss: Next Great Baker season 1 winner isn't breaking world records with 20,000-plus pound weddings cakes in Las Vegas (which he will attempt this October), he enjoys lime-marinated chicken, red beans and rice, chilequiles and fish tacos. Who doesn't? If he shows up at your Cinco de Mayo party, he'd be bearing a "fresh pineapple roasted red pepper guacamole my friend Chef Dominicke makes. Add some homemade fried chips and it's a homerun. Second pick is a good tres leches."
Jeremy McMillan of Bedford Post Inn
Helming the kitchen at
Richard Gere's Westchester bed and breakfast is what got Jeremy a spot on our list, but his straight-no-chaser answer makes us want to invite him to our weekend parties. Too bad he's hosting one, in Westchester (the worst). Bring, "limes and avocados...and tequila," he says.
Justin Severino of Cure
The Pittsburgh-based chef who's guest-starred in some major NYC kitchens is dedicated to whole-hog butchering and sustainable animal husbandry. No surprise, then, that both of his picks involve pigs. You should bring "carnitas nacho casserole," to a cinco party, and his all-time favorite Mexican dish is "Carnitas! I love pork cooked in it's own fat!"
Chopped champion and Hell's Kitchen chef-testant, Gurnani gets straight to the point: "[bring] an empty stomach, your favorite dish to share, and a lot of beer." Exactamente, señora.
Karine Bakhoum, The Iron Palate
Bonus round! Karine is not a chef, but as an
Iron Chef America judge and restaurant consultant (and PR exec), her hard-earned nickname should tell you that she knows her stuff. She says to bring "Mayan Brownies from the Salt of The Earth Bakery – they’re the bomb – seasoned with Cayenne, cinnamon, hot pepper and then topped with sea salt -- a real crowd pleaser." On a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta she tried, allegedly, the original fish tacos at a shack with "Fish Tacos My Ass Get The Real One Here," emblazoned on a sign. "After tasting these fresher than fresh, light, beautifully seasoned and sauced tacos I have to agree," she shared. "I’d go back to the little surfer town of Sayulita just to eat there."