"La Próxima Generación" shines the spotlight on the next generation of LA's Latino chefs and restaurateurs. The series is hosted by Bricia Lopez, co-owner of Guelaguetza, the acclaimed Oaxacan restaurant in Koreatown. Bricia's parents, Fernando Lopez and Maria de Jesus Monterrubio opened Guelaguetza in 1994.
Located near the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, Guelaguetza is much more than a restaurant - it’s a Oaxacan cultural center with a performance stage, Mezcaleria and boutique market. Mr. and Mrs. Lopez have retired - Guelaguetza is now owned and operated by the next generation: Bricia, Paulina and Fernando, Jr. Guelaguetza’s sublime moles, banana leaf-wrapped tamales and unstuffed enchiladas have earned local and national praise, including the prestigious James Beard America's Classics Award in 2015.
"Food and culture are what we know and what we are giving back to the city. America and Los Angeles have given us so many opportunities and friendships. It has embraced us and we have embraced it." ~ Bricia Lopez, OAXACA
In October 2019, Bricia published OAXACA: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico. Co-written with L.A. TACO editor, Javier Cabral, the book features 140 recipes ranging from Guelaguetza's signature pink horchata to the formula for the Lopez’s award-winning mole negro.
In her powerful dedication, Bricia writes: "This book is dedicated to the millions of immigrants who every day fearlessly cross borders for a better life. May you continue to represent your culture and fight for your dreams." She also dedicates OAXACA to the late Jonathan Gold ("the man who changed our family's life") and her parents.
Join Bricia as she visits and cooks signature dishes with her fellow restaurateurs: Gilberto Cetina (Chichen Itza / Holbox), Wes Avila (Guerrilla Tacos), and Paul Serrano, Jr. and his mom, Sara Clark (Sarita's Pupuseria).
Gilberto Cetina - Chichen Itza + Holbox
In the first episode of "La Próxima Generación," Bricia visits Gilberto Cetina, Jr., the chef-owner of Chichen Itza and Holbox at the Mercado la Paloma in South LA. Bricia and Gilberto make Chichen Itza's cochinita pibil torta, and talk about what it's like to grow up in the restaurant business and carry on their families' legacies.
Gilberto's father opened Chichen Itza at the Mercado in 2001, serving authentic dishes from the Yucatan peninsula. With influences from Mayan, Spanish and Lebanese cuisines, the restaurant's Yucatecan specialties include cochinita pibil, papadzules and poc chuc. With no prior culinary experience, Gilberto learned from and worked alongside his father at Chichen Itza for 15 years, and took the helm in 2010.
In 2017, Gilberto opened Holbox, a casual counter focused on raw and cooked seafood. Drawing inspiration from Mexico's coastal regions and Southern California, the Holbox menu changes daily based on the freshest available seafood. Recent dishes include yellowtail & uni ceviche, Shigoku oysters, Baja California blood clams, wood-grilled branzino filet, and pan-seared Maine diver scallop taco. A six-course seafood tasting is available by reservation on Thursday-Saturday from 5pm to 8pm. Holbox was recently named to the Michelin guide's Bib Gourmand list of California restaurants.
Paul Serrano, Jr. & Sara Clark - Sarita's Pupuseria
In the second episode of "La Próxima Generación," Bricia visits Paul Serrano, Jr. and his mom, Sara Clark of Sarita's Pupuseria in the landmark Grand Central Market. Based on Sara's family recipes, Sarita's serves handmade pupusas with a dozen different fillings (including vegetarian options), as well as fried plantains, yuca con chicharron, stews, and other Salvadoran dishes.
Sara started working at Grand Central Jewelry (Stall F-6) in 1980 and eventually saved enough money to buy the jewelry store. She later took over the lease from King Taco across the aisle and opened Sarita's Pupuseria (Stall E-5) in 1998. Sara even designed Sarita's neon sign, which features an outline of El Salvador.
In an interview with Lucky Peach, Sara says, "I opened Sarita’s because I saw a lot of people from my home in El Salvador. I wanted to give those people a taste of home." Paul adds, "This is all food she would eat at home in El Salvador. She was twenty-eight when she moved here. It’s a beautiful thing, the opportunity my mom took. It makes you think anything is possible."
La La Land fans will recognize Sarita's Pupuseria from the romantic montage when Sebastian (played by Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone, in an Academy Award-winning performance) are on a date at Sarita's. The two corner stools seen in the film have become a popular location for Instagram selfies.
Wes Avila - Guerrilla Tacos
In the third episode of "La Próxima Generación," Bricia visits Wes Avila, the chef-owner of Guerrilla Tacos in the Downtown LA Arts District. Wes talks about the inspiration for his signature sweet potato taco, a truly Los Angeles dish: the sweet potato is from his training with California French-style chefs; the feta from the Armenian markets in Glendale; the salsa from his travels in Spain; and the tortillas are from Boyle Heights.
Wes earned his culinary stripes under the fine dining tutelage of Walter Manzke at L’Auberge, Gary Menes at Le Comptoir, and Alain Ducasse at Le Centre de Le Formacion. After launching a taco cart in 2012, Wes expanded to a popular taco truck and then opened his brick and mortar in July 2018 just a few blocks from his original street cart location. Guerrilla Tacos was named to the Michelin guide's Bib Gourmand list of California restaurants.
Jonathan Gold was an early supporter - in his LA Times review, he described the Guerrilla Tacos truck as "a kind of tasting-menu restaurant whose dishes happen to be composed on tortillas instead of on fancy plates, and sometimes the best way to experience it is to show up with a few friends and order one of everything."
Wes pays homage to the legendary food critic with his silhouette painted above a corner booth and one of his five rules for dining in LA: "THE TACO HONORS THE TRUCK."