An Indian twist to Mexican Cuisine with Kavya Verghese

There wasn’t one subject at school that attracted me as much as I loved to be in the kitchen!

Food is an integral part of culture, the type of food made in a country can speak volumes about its various cultures and traditions. Experiments have been made by chefs all around the world to fuse cuisines and experiment with different ingredients. People enjoy trying new cuisines and exploring the culture of different places through food. Mex it up is a food service in Chennai that experiments with a fusion of Mexican and Indian food. Founder and Chef, Kavya Verghese, is passionate about sharing the her love for different cuisines with her people. Mex it up is the first step in that direction and it’s been garnering great response. In conversation with Kavya, we learn more about her journey in cooking and more about Mex it up and what it has in store!

Chennai Insider: Tell us about Mex it up. What is it about?

Kavya: Mex it up is a startup that I created to bring familiarity to Indian palates on Mexican food.

The idea of getting people to know more about Mexican food and appreciate it on how similar Mexican cuisine is with Indian cuisine. So trying to bring out unfamiliar Mexican dishes and educating them with an Indian twist.

Chennai Insider: What made you start Mex it up? What is the story behind it?

Kavya: World cuisine is very close to my heart, especially educating my fellow Indians on the different variation of dishes around the world that I have travelled and experienced.

Mexican food, I felt was neglected here, especially those traditional old school dishes such as tamales. And I wanted to bring this out in my first food-venture!

Chennai Insider: Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this?

Kavya: I am a certified Chef, completed my degree in culinary arts. Worked for a bit at The Oberoi, Mumbai. And spent the last 4 years working as a chef in Hilton Dubai Jumeirah. At Hilton, I specialized in Spanish, Mexican, French and Thai cuisine.

I left and came back to Chennai on February, 2020.

Chennai Insider: How has Mex it up been received since its launch? What has been the most positive outcome of starting this venture for you?

Kavya: Mex it up has had a really positive response from the start. Been really great with a lot of newspaper features and getting a lot of customers, being very happy with the food that they received!

My vision of introducing something new is following the right path!

Chennai Insider: Could you tell us more about the menu at Mex it up?

Kavya: I started out with bringing in burritos which is something people are familiar with and not completely unknown. The most happiest and creative dish for me personally are the taquitos, they are Mexican pani puris with a choice of prawn/ mushroom and smoked tofu. The taquitos have gotten an amazing response and has been one of the top sellers.

As a month passed, I have introduced tamales, something a little unknown, but they are absolutely delicious!! They have an Indian flavored filling inside a masa steamed with a corn husk. Gradually when people get to taste these, they would know more of these unfamiliar dishes. Till now the customers who have ordered the tamales have said they were amazing and would order it again!

Every month my goal is to get more new unfamiliar dishes involved in my menu.

Chennai Insider: What were the difficulties you faced while beginning Mex it up? How did you overcome them?

Kavya: The pandemic had made me start mex it up from my home kitchen, unaware of how the days would come in the future. Building my home kitchen into a easier way for service was tricky! But turned out really well.

Another challenge was the delivery system and timely deliveries. So recently Mex it up has tied up with Zomato to help the customers receive their food immediately.

Chennai Insider: Tell us about how you started cooking and what it means to you?

Kavya: Cooking has been a passion every since I was a kid, being allergic to a lot of food when I was 10 made me who I am today. Fought my allergies with creating dishes according to my diet eventually made me fall in love with food.

There wasn’t one subject at school that attracted me as much as I loved to be in the kitchen!

My vision as a chef is to understand different varieties of food that the world has to offer and hopefully bring out my kind to my fellow Indians! It means the world to me to share my love for food to everyone around me.

Chennai Insider: What are your best dishes? What would be your personal favorites?

Kavya: My best dishes would be my taquitos, my shaped pancakes, and my Tom Kha Gai!

Personally my 3 favorite dishes which I am proud of till date is a 3 course meal made for a French event based on the places I had travelled to. The starter was from the middle east (a phyllo pastry with a beetroot ravioli gel, stuffed with feta and had a base of a burghul salad. It looked like a mushroom growing from the sand)

The main course was from Spain (chicken two ways – a sous vide chicken roulade stuffed with sundried tomato pesto and a seared chicken with a quinoa paella on the side)

The dessert from France (the pear bourdaloue )

Chennai Insider: What are your future goals? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Kavya: My future plan is to open up more cuisines similar to Mex it up. Hopefully have them as full fletched restaurants and share the love of multiple cuisines around!

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