Pop-Up Chef Explains Why North African And Mexican Flavors Mesh So Well
When French chef Farid Zadi launched his first weekly Revolutionario-LA Food event on Saturday, he set out to do something unique. His dishes married the flavors of North African cuisine with Mexican street food.
His first hungry patrons at Blank Kitchen got a chance to taste rabbit tagine and Berber lamb mechoui tacos, plate specials like smoked goat birria, and North African briks—crispy and flaky pastry pockets—filled with Mexican flavors.
However, Zadi wouldn't describe his dishes as North African-Mexican fusion. "We don't consider it fusion food because North African and Mexican [food] have a long history [together]," Zadi tells LAist. "The Moors (North Africans) ruled Spain for 700 years. So when the Spanish set sail for the Americas they took a lot of Moorish influences with them. North African cooking benefited tremendously from indigenous Mexican ingredients such as tomatoes, chile peppers, and corn. North Africans even make a cornmeal couscous."
Dishes from their first event: lamb, rabbit and duck tacos; shakshouka; requeson tamal; and cochinita pibil.
Zadi utilizes North African ingredients and techniques to his meats and vegetables, and more spices than what's used in Mexican cuisine, he says. Every Saturday going forward until he and his wife Susan Park are able to open a brick-and-mortar location, they will be serving this type of cuisine with new plate specials. Their next event on May 17 will feature some new dishes—pozolillo, a corn-and-pork-rib soup and enmoladas and black mole enchiladas. Folks can round out their meals with goat milk dulce de leche flan and churros.
The classically-trained chef in French cuisine and fine dining also has brought his French techniques to the table. He's worked at three-Michelin-star restaurants and has taught cooking classes at a variety of spots, including Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. The L.A. Times' Charles Perry wrote of Zadi's cooking: "The fact is, Zadi is a brilliant chef. Everything he touches explodes with fragrance."
The idea for Revolutionario-LA Food was planted in Zadi's mind when he wanted to do something for his customer base who couldn't afford the $100 to $200-priced meals he was whipping up at high-end restaurants. (Dishes for Revolutionario run from $2.25 to $7.) His wife loves Mexican cuisine, and Middle Eastern street food is popular throughout the world. He says, "So we thought, 'why not take two of the most globally recognized cuisines, two of the most popular cuisines in the world, that happen to have a shared history and combine the two?'"
The next Revolutionario-LA Food event will be held on May 17 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Blank Kitchen at 4220 Beverly Boulevard in Koreatown. More information can be found here. It's cash-only and there are no reserved tables. There's free parking in the lot. No BYOB is allowed.