Through November 2nd, join in the Day of the Dead celebration at Oyamel as Head Chef Joe Raffa invites guests to experience one of the most important holidays in Mexican culture with a special menu featuring tasty tamales, specialty handcrafted cocktails and a tamal cart on the Oyamel’s patio. When you’re there be sure to check out the custom-made altar adorned with candles and marigolds, the flower that is often used to decorate gravesites in rural Mexico – it’s pretty amazing! Click here for a coupon for a FREE Sloe Dead Fizz, one of the specialty cocktails being offered during the event.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
The Vita Prep XL. It’s the Godzilla of blenders, and we love it in the kitchen. One of my sous chef’s hugged it the day it arrived. It makes our moles so much easier to puree. Besides that, I have my knives. I converted to Japanese knives several years ago. A knife is the most important tool a chef has. A good Japanese knife raises that tool to the level of art. It’s inspirational to work with something that an artisan has devoted substantial time and energy to create, both in terms of food and tools.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
My answer is more of a philosophy. Cooks are easily excited with new tools and techniques. Take sous vide for instance. It is an amazing cooking technique when used where it makes sense for the food. Unfortunately, you find people using the technique for everything just for the sake of using the machines. The important thing is the food. Whatever techniques bring the best flavor out of the food is what you should use. Not necessarily the newest fads.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Food from my home!!! I’d love to open a Hawaiian restaurant and introduce people on the mainland to the flavors of the islands. One of my fellow Hawaiian chefs in ThinkFoodGroup and I cooked a luau for Jose Andres a few months ago. We had so much fun and became so homesick all at the same time.
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Bev Eggleston from Eco-Friendly Foods. I really respect the traditions of small farmers that he is trying to promote. And his meats are just SO good.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
That they don’t all come in to Oyamel every day!
What do you drink/eat after work?
Rum. In a good Mai Tai. Heaven.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
This is the hardest question. My favorite thing depends on my mood. When I cook food from Hawaii it just pulls on my heartstrings. My wife is from Alabama, and her grandmother, aunt and mother taught me a lot about Southern cuisine, which also makes me very happy. I just can’t bear to claim a favorite thing, because there’ll be so many other things I want to eat!
Click here for Chef Raffa’s recipe for butternut squash soup…