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In Beijing you Mexi-can

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-25 09:10
Duck burrito is created by Medina and his team inspired by their food safari in New York. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chef Marcus Medina and his brother Martin Medina have been treating you to top-class Mexican fare since 2012.

Forty years ago, Mexican chef Marcus Medina and his brother Martin Medina opened a burrito shop in New York and everyone asked the same question - what is a burrito?

They had to invite an artist to draw a burrito on the wall - beans, rice and other fillings with sour cream, avocado and guacamole, all wrapped in a tortilla.

After more than two decades of cooking in New York when burrito shops became common in the city, Medina brought his burritos and tacos to Beijing in 2012 - and this time he just put a picture of it on the menu.

In February, Medina took his culinary team to a food safari trip back to New York, seeking new inspiration for Mexican food. He brought back many ideas. Now, Medina is ready to surprise foodies in the Chinese capital.

Adventure in New York

Born and raised in east Los Angeles, California, which is a Mexican neighborhood, Medina and his brother grew up with their mom's homemade Mexican cuisine.

They then opened a taqueria, which is a casual restaurant specializing in tacos, in their hometown serving Cal-Mex style burritos back in the 1980s.

During that time, Medina went to a tiny chef school in Mexico City which was the only one then, and he was sent out to learn from all the regional Mexican restaurants.

After that, the duo decided to take Cal-Mex food to New York and opened up a series of restaurants there over around 20 years - from a food cart to a burrito shop to a fancy Mexican food restaurant.

Each year, the two brothers would take several months of "vacation".

While Medina's brother likes to be "Jack Sparrow" by serving on cruise ships, Medina takes a more dangerous path - to be a deep sea crab fisherman in the Bering Sea.

Q Mex Bar & Grill is located in Sanlitun area of Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Discovery channel's documentary Deadliest Catch gives viewers a glimpse of the real life aboard fishing vessels in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan king crab fishing season.

However, Medina's own experiences have been much harsher and more dangerous.

Sometimes, he could sleep only three to four hours a day for four days or even a week until the vessel is full with crabs.

"It was winter, and it was always 24 hours black with no sun at all. It was insane," Medina recalls.

When he brought some king crab that can sell for hundreds of dollars back home, his parents just used them to make tacos.

He thought it was a waste while at the same time, it made him realize that even to serve the most common family or street food, he must use the best ingredients.

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