Chef Q&A: Sergio Juarez of Tortilla Republic
Juarez brings his hometown Tijuana flavors to West Hollywood
Chef Q&A takes you inside the kitchens of our favorite West Hollywood restaurants to learn more about the chefs preparing the city’s most extraordinary dishes. In this installment, we bring you Chef Sergio Juarez of Tortilla Republic.
Tortilla Republic is known for bold, fresh flavors and modern Mexican dishes that pair well with their very popular spicy margaritas. The restaurant reflects a polished aesthetic inspired by the owner’s travels to Mexico, while the sophisticated setting and spectacular patio offer guests an intimate and relaxed atmosphere.
Chef Sergio Juarez brings his expertise in Mexican flavors from his hometown of Tijuana in Baja California. He spent his teenage years in the kitchen and learned everything he knows about cooking from first-hand experience. His passion for Mexican cuisine and embracing California cuisine has helped him create modern dishes that satisfy your craving for traditional Mexican fare.
What is unique about the restaurant & the dishes you serve?
We offer an inventive modern Mexican fare with unexpected flavors, utilizing all-natural meats and the freshest products possible. We always use locally-grown produce combined with the incredible hospitality that our team offers in the service—our guests come back again and again.
How did you end up in West Hollywood?
Since the moment I arrived in Los Angeles, it was brought to my attention that West Hollywood is the city where I can bring something different. The beauty of the city is something memorable and makes it hard to leave.
What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
Going back to my childhood and watching my lovely grandmother cooking delicious Turkey Mole or the Lamb Barbacoa and me helping her.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a chef?
I become a father when I was 16, and around this time, my brother-in-law introduced me to the kitchen. I was a punk back then, so in the beginning, it was hard for me to follow directions. The more time I was in the kitchen, I started to enjoy being in the heat and getting motivated about the things I was capable of creating. I got educated in the kitchen, and the more I was learning, the hunger to become a chef kept growing.
What’s your specialty dish?
I wouldn’t say one dish in particular. It’s more about connecting cultures through my dishes.
It’s your off day and you’re feeling lazy, what do you prepare at home?
Tacos and… more tacos!
You have 4 friends coming over for dinner, what’s on the menu?
Good ceviche, good tacos, and shots of tequila.
What’s your favorite dish at the restaurant?
There are so many. I would say the ceviche, jicama tacos, lobster enchiladas, pork chop, and mucho tequila.
How has being in the Los Angeles area challenged you as a chef?
Introducing my roots to others has definitely been a challenge. I’m from Baja California, and I want to let others know that Mexican food is more diverse then what they already know.
What would you say is the importance of food in our culture?
It’s everything. Connecting with others, the value of sharing, and getting to know each other. Most importantly, respecting each other.
How has being in California shaped your food sourcing practices?
It has definitely been a journey. There are so many cultures and you end up learning different techniques. You combine those techniques with your culture and it results in a wonderful dish.