In Trejo’s Tacos (Clarkson Potter, Apr.), actor and restaurateur Trejo shares recipes from his L.A. restaurants.
This is certainly a challenging time to be a restaurateur. How are you and your team adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Like a lot of restaurants, we offer takeout. Some of our customers are disabled, so we work with Meals on Wheels to get them food as well.
In your book, you mention that your mom was a killer cook. How did she influence your approach to food?
My mom was a great cook. And in a lot of families, you’re eating great the first of the month. But by the end of the month, you better be inventive! Sometimes she’d serve us a plate and we’d ask, ‘What’s this?’ She’d say, ‘That’s called Out of the Cupboard.’ I think that’s where I got my resourcefulness.
Once I became a dad I took my kids out for fast food a lot. Then one day my kid said, “Dad, you know you’re killing us.” They’d learned that processed food was bad for you at school. So that’s when I started making healthier food at home. Two out of every 10 kids in the Latino community are overweight. We try to offer a menu that’s health conscious that also tastes great.
You cover all the taco classics in your book, but you also have taco recipes with jackfruit and falafel. How did that come about?
In the movie industry, whenever you wrap a TV show or a movie, 10 or 15 people will want to go out to dinner. And you go somewhere and someone’s left out. Somebody’s a vegetarian or a vegan, and they’ll just get a salad or something. If you come to our restaurant you’ll see that there’s something for everyone. I also work with autistic children, and doctors that work with autistic kids have said they don’t do well with gluten, so we wanted to have options for them as well.
Would you say the bar is higher for Mexican food in L.A. compared to other cities?
Absolutely. We have such an eclectic group of restaurants in Los Angeles. Because of the border and where we’re at, Mexican food in L.A. is much more authentic. At Trejo’s Tacos, we’ve taken the taste of Mexico and made it healthier.
You have an image of Anthony Bourdain in your book. What did he mean to you?
Anthony Bourdain was a blessing. He said that my restaurant was the only place he’d eat in L.A. He loved the fact that we had vegetarian, vegan, all that, in addition to the usual items. And he tried all of them! That guy could eat.