By: Carla Pineda
Whether she is sharing her vision for L.A.’s food scene or depicting the soupy goodness of her favorite dish, executive chef M. Elena Vega keeps her family and her culture at the core of her work.
“Being a latina in the food business means a lot,” she shares.
It comes as no surprise that one of her most popular dishes includes a version of her grandmother’s chorizo, which she turned into a chimichurri for a citrus-marinated arrachera steak.
“Becoming a chef is a way that I feel I could stay close to my roots and highlight the beauty of Mexico through a dish,” Vega says.
Vega was born in Tijuana and her family is from Nayarit, Mexico. Although she started her career as a waitress in a retirement community when she was 17, she has drawn inspiration from her family’s culinary past, running a seaside restaurant in Mexico. Today, she is at the helm of modern Mexican restaurant Maestro in Pasadena, California.
In 2019, Vega is excited for the public’s growing appetite for new flavors. She sees more opportunities to bring her unique perspective to the table; to bring forth dishes inspired by what she grew up eating as a child.
“I want to create more pop-ups to reach a demographic that is curious about something new that they have heard of but never experienced,” she says.
We hope her pop-ups include dishes akin to her current obsession: tacos ahogados. “Warm chicken broth made with organic chicken make the world of difference,” she says. Poured over “three crunchy taquitos de pollo crema, salsita, queso y repollo. Warms me up inside.”