Chef Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack has Latin cooking in her DNA. Her grandmother’s pumpkin empanadas were a family favorite – Marquez-Sharpnack inherited her grandma’s rolling pin when she passed and now uses it to make her own empanadas – and she, along with her mother and sister, co-authored the exquisitely photographed and award-winning Muy Bueno Cookbook, slated for release in Spanish mid-May. When she isn't working on her book or culinary website she also develops recipes for Betty Crocker and contributes regularly to Parade.
Join us “At the Table with” Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack to find out her favorite Latin “cheat eats” and the kitchen gadget she can’t live without.
Dish you crave from your abuela:
When I miss grandma I crave pumpkin empanadas made with fresh pumpkin. My grandma passed away in 2004 and every time I make pumpkin empanadas with her rolling pin that I inherited I feel as if she is here with me. The pumpkin simmers in piloncillo, cinnamon, and cloves and gives off a sweet and earthy scent. Whenever I smell cinnamon it evokes great memories of my grandma baking in the kitchen.
Secret ingredient to make a dish pop:
I’m addicted to spice and more often than not I add a hint of chile (chipotle, Mexican chorizo, fresh jalapeños, ground chili powder) to all my meals. Spice doesn’t necessarily mean fiery and spicy, but it adds a little kick.
Favorite Latin restaurant in the U.S.:
That's a hard question! Mexican food is so personal. My mom’s house has the BEST Mexican food – no restaurant can compete. As for Latin food, I’ll say El Mesón. [They do] authentic Spanish cuisine in Santa Fe and have amazing Spanish tapas, paella, and sangria.
Favorite Latin restaurant in the world:
I’ll have to say Ajua Maya in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. They catered and hosted [my and my husband’s] destination wedding. They have the best wait staff and authentic Mayan and Mexican cuisine.
Favorite city to eat in:
I live in the suburbs south of Denver and rarely leave my little bubble to go to the city. I love Denver because it is so hip and there are so many restaurant choices.
Secret to a perfect dinner party:
Appetizers and cocktails! With food and drink stations set up on the kitchen island, guests can serve themselves. A signature cocktail that's ready to pour and easy plus simple appetizers equals low stress. This works for an elegant dinner, a stand-alone even, or as a first course to backyard grilling.
Click on, for Yvette's best memories of homemade tortillas, favorite cocktail, and more...