Los Angeles is a total taco town and is home to some of the best anywhere. Tacos are practically iconic to the city and have been integrated and infused in cultures outside of its native Mexican roots. Roy Choi and his Kogi Truck practically revolutionized the act of filling tortillas with non-traditional Mexican fillings, in his case Korean bulgogi or short ribs. Now, a new taco wave is emerging in LA’s southern neighborhoods, as African-American chefs are cooking up their own unique flavors.
In “Food Grails”, a new web series produced by First We Feast, host Miss Info travels far and wide to discover how foods define a city’s flavor, from Atlanta’s lemon-pepper wings to NYC’s beef patties. In the very first episode, she explores the roots of South LA’s thriving new food craze and the influential players behind these tacos.
Neighborhoods like Watts and Compton have been traditionally Black, but after the riots in 1992, the communities welcomed more Hispanic households. The blends in cultures ultimately led to African American chefs adopting tacos, burritos, and other Mexican specialties, but putting their own spin on things. It’s not exactly fusion food, like it is with Kogi Truck, but more so, a new interpretation.
In the episode of “Food Grails”, Miss Info connects with several chefs: Keith Garrett, Armani Affleje, Jermelle Henderson to find their inspiration for experimenting with Mexican food. It’s usually tough for chefs to “infiltrate” cultural cuisines that are not their own, without being criticized for being “culture vultures” or “Columbusing”, but as long as the food is good and respect is paid, there shouldn’t be a problem. All the chefs featured on “Food Grails” make delicious food that attracts customers from all over LA, while establishing themselves as inspired entrepreneurs who aim to take their businesses to the next level.
Check out the first episode of “Food Grails” below.