An exciting young Mexican chef and a mezcal fanatic share their love for the agave spirit - and the rich culture behind it.
“You don’t drink mezcal, you kiss it.” Or that’s what Santiago Lastra tells me anyway, as he pours me a glass on a drizzly Monday afternoon in Shoreditch.
We’re meeting—along with mezcal producer and ex-Pitt Cue manager Thea Cumming—to talk about the spirit of the moment and Lastra’s recent travels: the nomadic young Mexican chef is fresh from a global research trip to 18 different countries which took him to Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Budapest, Spain and Russia amongst others. All this was sandwiched around a stint with celebrated restaurant Noma; Lastra worked on their 2017 Mexican pop-up as Rene Renzedi’s right-hand man.
Lastra’s belief in the universal appeal of Mexican culture, and specifically its food and drink, was the fuel for his global expedition. It found him drinking with a small but passionate group of mezcal devotees in Moscow, foraging in Denmark and stalking deer in Scotland. But everywhere he went, one thing stayed the same: there was mezcal.