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Who Is Sylvia?

A chef who loves Karl's on the Riverbend and Freddie Fender

Sylvia Casares-Copeland, chef and owner of Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen, answers a few burning questions:

What's your fave ingredient, right now?

Chiles and cumin -- now and forever!

Sylvia Casares-Copeland is into Cavalino tequila.
Sylvia Casares-Copeland is into Cavalino tequila.

Location Info

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Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

12637 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77077

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Memorial

Who is your culinary hero?

My grandmother, Sara Issassi Casares. She was born in 1886 in Reynosa, Mexico, had 14 children and cooked all the time. She cooked border-style. There was always a basket of hot flour tortillas and some empanadas on the table. She made calabacitas (summer squash) with corn, tomatoes, onions and pork or chicken. I make them for a lunch special some- times. When I was trying to think of something vegetarian, I came up with the idea of calabacita enchiladas. I just make them without the meat and add a little cheese.

Where do you eat on your day off?

I live out in the country in far west Fort Bend County, so on weeknights I go to Karl's on the Riverbend ["Brunch in the Alps," by Robb Walsh, February 9, 2006]. It's a half mile from my house. He makes a great potato, leek and bacon soup, and I love the chopped steak. If I wasn't watching calories, I'd eat Karl's chicken-fried chicken with cream gravy every night.

What are you drinking lately?

Cavalino Tequila; it's the new underdog tequila. They just got it at Spec's. It scored a 94 at the Tequila Olympics or whatever they call that competition. It tastes great, comes in a plain-Jane bottle and it's underpriced. I like it straight, in margaritas or on the rocks with agave nectar.

What's your fave food TV show?

I don't watch much TV!

What's your culinary philosophy?

USE FRESH INGREDIENTS!

What's the next big thing going to be?

I'm not sure. I'm a traditionalist.

What are you sick of?

People who put down Tex-Mex! I grew up in Brownsville. And I am proud to be cooking the food that I grew up eating. When people tell me they love my restaurant because the food isn't Tex-Mex, they are trying to be nice, but they are putting me and my food and background down. Like Tex-Mex isn't real cooking!

Who's your fave musicians?

For old-time ranchero music, Alejandro Fernandez, Vicente Fernandez's son. For Tex-Mex music, The Blazers, a group from L.A. that sounds like they are from south Texas. And for "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," Freddie Fender.

 
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