In 2018, Ray German, a working chef in Hawaii, questioned the kind of food he wanted to cook. Although his parents were born in Jalisco, Mexico, it nagged at him that he didn’t know more about Mexican food. So the San Diego-born German, who had only traveled to Mexico once before, decided to take a sabbatical in Oaxaca.
He offered to work for free at any restaurant that would have him and secured a place at Casa Oaxaca, run by acclaimed chef Alejandro Ruiz, in Downtown Oaxaca City. One day, as he watched a woman making tortillas, something clicked.
“She was talking about it, and this light came out of this woman,” said German, 36. “It kind of all made sense how everything works in life — it all revolves around corn. I thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing; this is what Hawaii is missing.’”