13 Questions is a weekly series where we ask chefs 13 questions to get to know them outside of the kitchen. Eddie Hernandez is the executive chef at Taqueria del Sol.
What got you into cooking?
When I was young, my grandmother was an extremely good cook. She made this amazing corn, and one particular day I was just craving it. But she said to me, “Do you think I am going to always be around? You need to learn how to cook. It will allow you to eat what you want when you want to eat.” She was absolutely right.
What was the first thing you ever learned how to cook?
Pickled pork. It’s a big thing in Mexico. Most of the bars have it to keep you drinking. It’s really good and always something I wanted to do.
What do you miss most about your hometown, Monterrey, Mexico?
The food, the culture. It’s a different world because when you get away from the borders the people become very nice, very friendly, simple. They can be happy with little and can be okay with a lot. Everybody wants to have money, but it’s not necessarily the most important thing in life, like family and friends. I haven’t been back in about seven years—my sisters don’t want me to go because it’s too dangerous.
What was the last TV show you bingewatched?
The Big Bang Theory. I love Sheldon. He’s an idiot, and I want to kill him sometimes.
What’s your fast food guilty pleasure?
I love the Vortex. They have burgers that are greasy and remind me of the ones I used to eat in Texas.
What’s one thing you wish you knew how to cook?
Lardo. It’s an Italian dish that’s pure pork. They do it on marble block, salt it, let it sit forever. I’ve seen how complicated it is to do, so I’ve been trying to think of a way to recreate it.
What do you do when you aren’t running the restaurants?
I love to listen to music and to dance. My friend has a bilingual Spanish station that plays nothing but old rock, Rock Radio and More. I sometimes I go over there and watch him and laugh at him.
You started out as a drummer. Do you still play?
When I quit music, I promised to God I would never play again in my life. It’s been 27 years. The lifestyle of a musician is very addictive when you get to the level I was. You travel all the time, sleep in shitty hotels, eat bad food. I had the cars, the boat; you name it, I had it. I didn’t have time. I couldn’t have a steady girlfriend because I was on the road all the time. I never had time to drive the cars. I was becoming an alcoholic. I knew that, and that was when I decided to get away from it.
If you weren’t a chef, what you be doing?
When I get older, I might build a music studio and produce.
What was the last concert you saw?
Roger Waters from Pink Floyd at Philips Arena.
Where was the last place you traveled?
I’m in Colombia right now. I just love the country. The average temperature is between 71 to 80 degrees every day. The air is so clean that within three days I can feel in my body how relaxed and how rested I am. I come over here for a week, and I have a bunch of friends that I go out to eat and see places with.
Who were your food role models?
I like Jacques Pépin and Julia Child. They were the chefs that pioneered the food in TV but were also very good teachers. Their recipes made sense. I was a younger man when I started watching them. I was taking the techniques they used in their cooking to create new things that I could take to multitudes.
What’s your favorite ingredient?
When it comes to peppers, nothing is off limits. I’ve been growing my peppers for last two years and teaching myself how to do things with their heat.