Out and About
Catching up with Chef Paola Solorzano
Born and raised in Mexico, Chef Paola comes from a tribe-like family, consisting of a large number of abuelas, sisters, aunties and cousins that take great pleasure in gathering at the kitchen to share recipes, stories and secrets that invariably end in flavourful feasts. Upon moving to Canada, chef Paola decided to take her passion for food to the next level, and obtained a Culinary Management diploma, and a Nutrition certificate from George Brown College.
With a broad knowledge of Mexican ingredients and flavours under her belt, Chef Paola co-founded Santo Pecado, a Mexican catering social enterprise that has been a steady success since its creation, one year ago. Santo Pecado specializes in making the best Mexican food for your special events. we take great pride in offering authentic flavours, superb presentation, and a world class professional service. Santo Pecado’s commitment to you is that our ingredients are always of the highest quality standards, organic, and locally sourced. Our menus include gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options.
Chef Paola has also presented several events and workshops at Bento Miso, where she’s taken her guests from the Mexican Cantinas experience, to the most sophisticated and enigmatic dishes from the different regions of Mexico.
She recently appeared at the Pan American Food Festival in Toronto on Sunday August 14th at Yonge-Dundas Square for the Ceviche Smackdown Competition.
How are you involved with the Pan American Food Festival, and what will you be presenting?
Santo Pecado has been part of the PAFF since the very first one, in 2013. This year we competed in the Ceviche Smackdown – Sunday August 14, at 3 PM – with a Zapopan Seafood Market Ceviche, from Jalisco Mexico.
How would you describe your food creations in terms of flavours, ingredients, and cultural significance?
I always go for bold, yet simple flavours; in our kitchen is very common to see ingredients that are locally sourced from small farms in Ontario.
Within this context, we recreate the dishes we crave from Mexico, showcasing ingredients from Ontario, with our own twisted interpretation, like our beef barbacoa; we use Ontario grass fed beef, peppers from Mexico, and combine two styles of barbacoas from two different regions of the country, which results in a whole experience of flavours.
At what age did you know you wanted to become a chef, and what was the inspiration behind this decision?
I have been in love with food since I can remember, and the family business fostered my creativity in the kitchen since I was in my teens. We owned a bakery back home, and I was always coming up with new ideas for new products, like my textured soy bread – it was the early 90’s!
I became serious about it in my twenties; I enrolled in the Culinary Management program at George Brown, and when I graduated I decided to do one more year and specialize in Nutrition.
Can you describe the perfect Mexican-Canadian food fusion dish?
There’s actually a cultural dish that I love to present whenever we talk about the deep roots between our two countries. Based on the shared agricultural knowledge of the First Nations people, and the Prehispanic Mesoamerican cultures, I came up with a “Three Sisters Taco” in which I incorporated squash, beans, and corn, which reflects the way crops were managed before colonization.
What’s the one food and beverage pairing that you could offer as the ultimate dining experience?
In the summer time, definitely a mezcal cucumber margarita on the rocks, with ceviche on a freshly made tostada. Cheers!
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.