Ella Canta, Park Lane Hotel | Share
To coincide with the ‘Mundo Latinx’ exhibition at Fashion Space Gallery, we hosted a conversation with renowned Mexican chef, Martha Ortiz exploring how her Mexican identity and heritage, love for art, as well as political viewpoints have shaped her work as a chef and culinary artist.
Chaired by food historian and artist Tasha Marks, the conversation also looked at the importance of food within Mexican and Latin American culture, particularly in identity construction and reinforcing connection to heritage, as well as looking at how food can be used as a practice for social change.
Martha Ortiz is an award winning Mexican Chef and cookbook author who is celebrated for her creative cuisine and historical research into Mexican food traditions. With her restaurants, including Ella Canta at Number One Park Lane, she is recognized for resurrecting Mexican culinary traditions and reinvigorating them with modern twists. Through her cooking Martha shows off her country’s gastronomy with depth of flavours that encapsulate Mexico’s spirit and sense of identity. Her acclaimed restaurant in Mexico City, Dulce Patria, is consistently recognized as one of the top restaurants in Latin America and Ella Canta, her first venture into the European market in London has been heralded by the city’s critics as a ‘true gran dama’.
Martha’s journey into cuisine began with the chef originally focusing on a career in politics. Following her studies of Political Science, Martha went on to follow her passion of cooking, inherited from her tremendously talented mother, and opened her first restaurant in Mexico followed by a second, and Ella Canta in London which opened to critical acclaim in September 2017.
Ella Canta brings the colours, flavours and spirit of modern Mexico to the city. Martha’s philosophy is brought to life by David Collins Studio, with intricate and beautiful design inspired by the effervescence and colour of the country. In addition to the stunning restaurant with multiple references to artistic styles of Mexico, the bar has one of the largest collections of tequila and mescal in the country.
Martha’s London base opened to much acclaim, and following a highly successful first year, 2018 present numerous collaborations with the likes of the Victoria and Albert Museum and Cassandra Goad. In October 2018 the bar won the Imbibe Drinks List of the Year Award.
In addition to spending most time in her restaurant Dulce Patria, or flying to the UK to visit Ella Canta, Martha is also a regular on broadcast including MasterChef UK and Top Chef México. She has penned eight cookbooks on regional cuisine and distinguished herself as a food writer and a leading chronicler of Mexico’s gastronomic history.
Dulce Patria was included in the Acqua Panna and St. Pellegrino list Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015 and Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 receiving the 2016 Food and Travel Reader’s Award for the Best Restaurant in Mexico City and Metropolitan Area, as well as being the first Mexican restaurant to appear in La Liste 2016 and the number one restaurant in Mexico for 2017 – and one of the forty Best Chefs in the World in the same year.
Founded by food historian and artist Tasha Marks, AVM Curiosities has been exploring the relationship between art and the senses through a series of events and edible interventions since 2011. AVM Curiosities champions the use of food as an artistic medium, with projects ranging from museum exhibitions and sculptural installations to interactive lectures and limited-edition confectionery.
With a practice heavily influenced by history, Tasha has diverse culinary interests ranging from 16th century cabinets of curiosity to 1930s medicinal cookery: “The foundations of my ideas come from history but I always try to mix them with a contemporary twist. Confectionery is one of my great passions as it is truly timeless: nostalgia and novelty are powerful tools when used in an artistic context.”
Vanity Fair calls AVM Curiosities ‘London at it’s crazy-best’, while London store Sick-Note describe Tasha’s work as ‘the love child of Leonardo Da Vinci, Willy Wonka and Ferran Adria.’ Previous patrons have included the Royal Academy of Arts, Victoria & Albert Museum, The National Gallery and The British Museum – each of these projects eventuating in a unique and sensory art experience.