Mexican Street Food and Farmers’ Markets with Chef Thomasina Miers

Mexican Street Food and Farmers’ Markets with Chef Thomasina Miers

to cook by her mother’s side, Thomasina Miers got a
taste for something she liked aged six. The recipe was a béchamel

Years later, shifting from Italian to Irish cuisine, the now
chef/ author/ restaurant owner enrolled at Ballymaloe Cookery
School in East Cork for three months, but it was working her way
through London‘s
scene-y kitchens that earned Tommi her (apron) stripes and toque

Flipping between food cities and regional cuisines faster than a
pancake at brunch service, it was a trip to Mexico – paired with a
notable gap in London’s dining scene – that took Tommi to her next
food foray: Mexican street food.

From founding Wahaca, the UK restaurant group selling
Mexican-style street food, in 2007 to plating up umpteen servings
of vibrant Mexican market food in the process, home cooking and
shopping at her local market, Thomasina’s unsurpassable appetite
for authentic food experiences ensures the food-focused
entrepreneurs mind (and stomach) is ever rumbling.

Where are you from and how has that shaped or inspired

I spent much of my childhood in rural Wales and Gloucestershire
where I ate local, seasonal foods and produce. This continues to
shape my cooking today – it’s such an easy way to get the best out
of the ingredients both in terms of flavour and nutrition.

Does travel inspire your cooking?

Absolutely. Travel is the most inspiring thing for cooking;
learning about new ingredients and how different cultures use
different techniques to cook their local dishes. Our trips to
Mexico are invaluable for informing our menu development and recipe
creation as well as inspiring the kitchen team to think about how
we prepare our dishes.

Where’s your next adventure?

We are plotting a trip to Shakti Ladakh in India for some mountain air,
hill walking and wonderful food.

Where are your favourite places to dine in London?

We are so spoilt in London with so many exciting new
places opening all the time, but two places I have rediscovered and
keep returning to are Pastaio and Duck Soup. Both are in the heart
of Soho where our office is, so
it’s a little dangerous.

What makes a good restaurant?

You obviously need great food – that is why we go to Mexico and put so much care and
attention into our menus – but you absolutely must have great staff
too. We spend a lot of time on staff training – making sure they’re
happy, engaged and interested in what they are doing. Going out for
dinner is not a proper experience without a friendly, informative
face to guide you through your meal.

How did Wahaca come about?

I spent a year living in Mexico in my twenties, exploring and
learning about the food after a trip there before university. I
became obsessed with the food, its freshness and vibrancy, how
regional it was and the incredible diversity of ingredients.

There didn’t seem to be any restaurants cooking street food in
London at that time, but it
seemed to be the best place to start – most chefs are inspired by
the street food of their country
even if serving Michelin-starred food. That was
where we had to start.

Must-order items on the menu at Wahaca…

Our char-grilled rib-eye taco is sensational, while our
sweet-potato taquito is a constant hit. We have also just signed
off some rather delectable corn fritters for the summer that I
think will go down very well. Look out for our new, incredibly
soft, corn tortillas too.

Tell us some of your most loved and loathed food trends right

I am not mad on trends as I think they are faddy and die out
quickly, but the move to eat more vegetarian and vegan food is
exciting and not going to disappear anytime soon.

Wahaca has always had a menu that is 40-45% vegetarian and I
think people love that. It is encouraging that so many are starting
to feel they can make a difference to the planet through their food

Where are the best places to shop for produce in London?

I love Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden and La Fromagerie in
Marylebone for dairy produce and Michanicou Bros (Holland Park) and
Ben’s Fruit & Vegetables (Westbourne Grove) for stunning
seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Where possible, however, I would always recommend a farmer’s
market where you can buy straight from the producer, putting money
directly into their pockets. This means you can buy incredibly good
quality food at a much better price than a butcher or

Must-visit food cities include…

Lisbon, Bangkok, Ludlow, Mexico City.

For street food, don’t miss…

Anywhere in Mexico City. For amazing Asian food, you can’t beat
Singapore’s hawker markets.

Which chefs are you excited about?

I am a judge for Young British Foodies (an award pin pointing
up-and-coming talent on the UK’s dining scene). I had the most
incredible dinner cooked by Roberta Hall recently at their launch
dinner. She won the best chef award last year and cooks in a
wonderful restaurant called the Little Chartroom in Edinburgh.

I am also incredibly excited that chef Jackson Boxer (of St
Leonards and Brunswick House fame) has just opened Orasay in
West London. It is high time more of
these exciting and innovative chefs opened in West London.

Cooking schools worth travelling for…

Ballymaloe Cookery School. As an alumnI this is a slightly
biased vote, but they are so deserving. They are incredibly forward
thinking; a truly exceptional place.

Food items always in your cupboard…

Anchovies, mustard, homemade vinegar courtesy of Cult Vinegar’s
vases, olive oil.

What are you reading at the moment?

Late nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay.

And finally, what’s in your SUITCASE?

Sunblock and moisturiser are musts wherever I go. I always keep
space for exotic finds on my travels – I love coming home with
something from somewhere new.