Fresh from a stint working up in Brisbane, former executive chef of Coyotito, Evan White, together with partner Amelia, is set to create a real coastal Mexican taqueira in beachside Suffolk Park, and hey, he’d like to cook for some real locals, not just tourists!
‘Most of my inspiration comes from living in Mexico, although I worked in some high-end restaurants in Europe, but in fact it’s the street food that’s really king there,’ says Evan. ‘It’s the abuela-run hole in the wall places and the food from the marketplace, the mercado, that really inspired me.
‘Byron, which attracts visitors just like coastal Oaxaca, became our focus because I found Byron’s Picone Exotics sold the produce I was using in Mexico that I hadn’t found in Brisbane. Plus, the seafood I bought in Brisbane came from here, so we’ve moved closer to the source, so we can serve food directly from the producer as you do in Mexico’.
Expect slow ‘fast food’, with real earthy corn tortillas made inhouse daily, tacos al pastor with grilled pineapple, daily changing ceviche Mexicana, esquites (off-the-cob corn grilled and slathered with condiments), sharing plates from the asado (pollo, pulpo, pescado), and Cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork, sour orange, coriander, lime, pickled onion).
‘We’d like to achieve a community focus, the family-friendly local vibe. It’s not such a touristy market in beachside Suffolk and there’s consequently a greater appreciation of the local market food. You can actually buy meat directly from the farmer here, and the farmers markets sell interesting products you can’t buy everywhere (unlike Brisbane where almost everything is sold through Rocklea). Here it’s economical, fun and you’re certain of your food’s provenance. There’s also a very quick turnaround from the earth to the plate that you don’t get from the big markets. We’ll be serving up a couple of different types of ceviche; it really has to be fresh,’ says Evan.
‘We just spent a couple of weeks over in Mexico, going up into the mountains in the region of Minas where they produce small-batch artisanal mescal. We have brought a range of them back with us that you can’t purchase anywhere else in Australia.
‘We will have a great range of tequilas, but we will be showcasing mescal; it has a great smokiness. It’s soft enough so that it showcases the agaves, with a lot of softer notes; it is a refined drink that gives you a lot more to think about; the sort of agave, and the region, and the roasting.
‘We saw the harvesting of agaves that were more than 30 years old, and the products often have an earthy flavour, some with herbal notes, some that are quite floral. No two mescals are necessarily similar.
‘People are peering in through the windows, and there’s a lot of excitement. I don’t think people will be unimpressed when we open this week,’ says Evan.
CHUPACABRA, Shop 12a, 3 Clifford St, Suffolk Park. www.chupacabra.com.au /@chupabyron