Inside My Mexican creole controversy

PoBoy by Burgermary

Now that's what a PoBoy should look like.

I started with a vieux carré; Buffalo Trace bourbon, Remy VS Cognac, Rosso Antico, Yellow Chartreuse, Orange & Rhubarb bitters, a grapefruit twist.

But this whole creole contraversy was shaken and stirred when @burgermary started calling the authenticity of My Mexican Cousin’s creole credentials into question.

Is short the restaurant, which is attached to and with it’s Six Degrees fitout jars with the Melbourne Recital Centre, is named after the most popular dish on the St Ali menu (corncakes) and is a joint venture with a stack of other bar owners and DJs. Maurice Esposito, best known for seafood and his sustainable approach, was in charge of the food.

Salvatore Malatesta, who owns St Ali, being Salvatore decided it was a smart move to hire @burgermary to make the menu authentic. Esposito exits stage left. And the chefs in the kitchen are left a tad grumpy to say the least. But as a team they pulled of an amazing Fringe Food Festival dinner earlier this week.

However much you can argue about the above events, unless you are vegetarian you can’t argue with our starter of praline bacon – thin strips of Kaiserfleish candied with brown sugar and pecans, as praline would be made in the south.

Praline bacon by Burgermary

I dare you to argue with praline bacon. I wanted to dip it in chocolate.

Naturally, there has been a PoBoy on the menu, a fat baguette stuffed with fat deep fried prawns, mayo, cos lettuce and creole seasoning.

With the boudin fritters, BT’s gumbo, the pulled pork and cornbread skillet, pecan pie and beignet (basically doughnuts with salted caramel dipping sauce) it was a huge amount of food.

Despite a couple of misses among the hits, I liked it as a casual sort of food.

My Mexican Cousin on Urbanspoon

If I was living locally or attending a concert I’d drop in for a PoBoy and a glass of wine at least.

It was a ballsy move to bring in a blogger/tweeter with some fall out. But publicity wise it is genius. This year we’ll see many more people from social media becoming involved with restaurants myself included.

19 Responses to “Inside My Mexican creole controversy”

  1. Mike

    Thanks Sal. Well, im sure people would like to know if Melbourne’s self proclaimed Creole experts have actually been to New Orleans? and i dont mean, now. I mean, before the restaurant was opened? So i think a public explanation would be preferred. What exactly was the genesis of My Mexican Cousin. Cashing in on a trend, and misleading the public or a passionate journey to share a culture that you love with Melbournians? interesting question. Lets make this clear. Im not a blogger, but i do love New Orleans, and i do think that the Big Easy deserves better.

  2. Dr Filth

    Wow, yet another blog-inspired hornet’s nest that just keeps getting kicked.
    Aside from stating the obvious that anyone can “design” a new menu nowadays just from googling a style of food or type of cuisine, a truly talented (and experienced) chef should also be able to understand how produce may react to different types of cooking, therefor creating good creole food shouldn’t necessarily require a trip to SOUTHERN AMERICA (I love when people shout in writing)!

    Sorry Mike, but I think you may be giving (most) melburnians far too much credit for their supposed culinary knowledge….. Most Melburnians may be led more by hack bloggers and shit talkers than their own palates.

    As far as getting a blogger to help with your menu and business, I think it could either be for publicity sake or because you don’t actually know what the f*@k is going on in your own business and you may be a little worried.

    Sorry Kris, but Bloggers becoming involved in restaurants may just lead to an inflated sense of self-worth, how about you put in 40-60 hours a week and be part of a team, not just an opinionated underqualified asshole.

    I haven’t met a proper chef yet who has time to waste blogging and bitching….

  3. Mike

    OK. lets finally clear one very important thing up. Anthony Bourdain recently said that he would rather eat in melbourne than Paris, and Mario Batali recently commented on New Orleans being one of the most influential and interesting culinary cities in the world. I would argue it is one of the most influential in the world, and as Tom Fitzmorris a famous New Orleans food journalist says, it is a city almost all about food. I would also argue that Melbourne takes its food very seriously, and the people of Melbourne who love good food, are too clever to be ripped off by certain people. Relevance?

    Chefs and restaurateurs are much like musicians and artists. They can have their own unique styles or they can replicate an original. However, if an artist or musician were to recreate a classic, in their own style, it would be assumed that they had a very good understanding of the original they were reproducing, or reinventing. You cannot perform a Chopin influenced performance/concert without being exceptionally well versed in Chopin.

    So, please explain to me why the team at My Mexican Cousin think it is acceptable to rip off one of the worlds greatest culinary cities WITHOUT HAVING EVER BEEN THERE. Yes they may have seen it on TV, read Wikipedia, or scoured through websites, but the reality is… They are trying to convince a very food savvy Melbourne that they are qualified to reinvent/reproduce food of the great city of New Orleans.

    They wouldn’t even know to avoid Bourbon Street as the locals certainly don’t go there… unless making a trip to Galatoire’s, Bourbon Street is NOT the cultural hub of New Orleans and is no representation of its potential. I make this comment going back on a Facebook post MMC made last week, and i stress that customers who visit this restaurant are most certainly of the belief that they are in a position to share the culinary experiences of New Orleans. I know for a fact they are not.

    New Orleanians would be horrified to learn that in a city claiming to share many great cultural and culinary traits with them, Melbourne, there is a New Orleans restaurant wanting to be taken seriously, but without any reason to.

  4. Kris Wood

    Bloggers becoming involved in restaurants could be great as bloggers view, observe and have ideas on how to improve nearly every venue they visit.
    For a blogger to offer ideas and suggestive directions would be a great idea but to have a blogger direct a chef is looking for a fight… a quick one.

  5. Andrew

    Really there are very few authentic dishes in the world let alone authentic cuisines. Just think about Italian food and you probably think about tomato based sauces, Indian and fiery curries, Eastern European food with a plethora of potato dishes and the list goes on. However at one point these associations would have been completely unknown and when these foods did arrive they would have been seen as bastardizations by many. The fact is that food is constantly evolving and this snarky talk of such and such place not being authentic is pointless and only stagnates food. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for documentation of food history but not the penalisation of creativity.

    In the end the quality off the food should be all that matters.

  6. Ed

    Mshia,

    I had my 11am email deadline to meet! Who isn’t happy with bacon, especially so with praline.

    Storme,

    Until hospitality embraces its customers and engages with them, it will continue its demise and you may well remain one of the places that is 2/3 empty most of the time.

  7. Storme

    Hoff, did you consider taking your own fresh tissues into shaft?

    Clearly the ones you’re finding on the floor there are causing you to get disheartened in the cinema only to return home and blow your load here.

    Salvatore…props to you my man.

  8. Storme

    It was a ballsy move to bring in a blogger/tweeter with some fall out. But publicity wise it is genius. This year we’ll see many more people from social media becoming involved with restaurants myself included.

    - Henceforth lies the demise of Melbourne hospitality and the credibility of those who allow this to happen.

  9. msihua

    Man you’re fast!

    Agreed on the terms of no such thing as authenticity unless you’re actually in the area where the original food resides in. So until I travel to New Orleans, I’ll never know.

    Til then, I’m happy with the praline bacon at My Mexican :)

  10. Cara @ Gourmet Chick

    I was intrigued to follow all of this controversy online after reading Burger Mary’s original post I thought it was a great move to enlist her help with the menu and then also to hold a Fringe Food festival event. I wasn’t able to make the event but visited My Mexican Cousin yesterday for lunch and was actually pretty disappointed with a lot of the food. The PoBoys were really good but unlike you I found the candied bacon underwhelming and other dishes like the dirty rice were very oily. Perhaps the menu is a work in progress but it seems like they have been working on it for a while now.

    • Ed

      Cara,

      Ledt,s disagree on the bacon ;-). I’m with you on the dirty rice. I’m used to more Asian style fried rices and to me the individual grains seemed too puffed up and overcooked like a bad fried rice. But I’ve never been to the south so for all i know it could be a faithful reproduction, being oily ‘n all. In reality there is no such thing as authenticity when you can a food outside of its origins. Different climates and ingredients and conditions make it all different. Still…

  11. The Hoff

    Dear SM,
    No insult intended, I was obviously talking about someone else as you quite rightly point out, your name is spelled differently but Its easy to get muddled up when one is constantly regarding oneself in the mirror.
    Tall poppy genocide? Whats with the delsuions of grandeur, I didn’t think you were an ethnic minority or persecuted religeous group being systematically wiped out? Maybe you have more in common with this Malitesta than you are letting on?

    Self-Love and Peacemeal

  12. Ed

    Sal, all is good. I like it and all menus are a work in progress.

    My policy is not to censor to promote debate.

    Peace.

  13. Poppy988

    What on EARTH does all this have to do with the food? Its sad that this thread has devolved away from the point, which is the restaurant. Not the owners. Or the people who have a clear and petty grudge against them.

  14. salvatore malatesta

    Dear Hoff,

    I suspect there may be some happy tissues at Shaft. I struggled, as you can imagine I would and by your latter admission, with the use of opportunism and putrid malady being in the same sentence.

    I kindly take this “opportunity” to point out you have misspelt my surname and I wish you well in your tall poppy genocide.

    Ed thank you and as you can imagine I take this opportunity to shamelessly self promote the fact that the current menu is and will alway be a work in progress until we completely nail it.

    Love and Peace,

    Salvatore Malatesta

  15. The Hoff

    Hiya Ed, You’re right of course, but as I’m a low-achieving, disenfranchised-grudge-holder & Tall-Poppy-Scyther I have no real answer.

  16. Ed

    The Hoff,

    Interesting points. Is there anything wrong with being an opportunist? I wish I was one. For whatever Malatesta and Mathis have done, have they not added to the Melbourne food and drink experience?

    As with many businesses very few are unique ideas but are a patchwork of ideas taken from abroad – which is also what most chefs do.

  17. The Hoff

    Malitesta is a shameless opportunist. He gorges on talent then spits it out when the breeze blows the other way leaving a trail of sad, spent tissues like one finds on the sticky carpet at the Shaft cinema.
    No one else comes close to him, well maybe Mathis actually, for greedily sucking the marrow from bedazzled staff whilst the bloated empire expands on other peoples integrity and verve. His ideas are not his own and he shares that distinction with several other empire builders all afflicted by the same putrid malady but in this case his surname says it all.