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Talking Traditional and Modern Mexican Cuisine with Saul Montiel

Saul Montiel Cantina Rooftop
Cantina Rooftop

Which new bourbon are we pumped about? What does it take to be a master journeyman? Where are we excited to travel to next? Each week, The Manual Podcast invites an expert, artisan, or craftsman for a roundtable discussion on what’s new, exciting, and unique in their trade.

For this week’s episode of The Manual Podcast, the gang’s all here as Nicole, Sam, and Greg sit down with chef Saul Montiel of New York City’s Cantina Rooftop.

A native of Atotonilco el Grande in central Mexico, Montiel came to the United States at the age of fifteen after having spent his formative years in the kitchens of his mother and grandmothers’ restaurants doing assorted jobs from cleaning the bathrooms to going to the market for fresh meat and vegetables. Upon arriving in the States, Montiel realized cooking could be a career for him and embarked on a journey that saw him in Italian, French, and Mediterranean kitchens, among other cuisines.

On the podcast, Montiel discusses those times and how they helped him become the chef he is as well as how traditional Mexican cuisine is similar to Italian cuisine in that they are both “grandmother cuisines.” Next, he dives into his time as a chef at Cantina, a rooftop restaurant located just a few blocks from Times Square in New York City. There, he explains, he brings a mix of what people expect when they think about Mexican cuisine as well as some traditional elements that they might be hesitant to try (even though they shouldn’t … at all).

Do you have a favorite Mexican restaurant or dish? We want to hear from you. If you ever have a question or comment for The Manual Podcast folks, give us a shout at — we’re always around! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you can join the discussion. Don’t forget, too, to rate and review the podcast where you download it.

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