I recently had an awesome opportunity land in my lap! I was invited to interview Latina celebrity chef and creator of Taco Bell’s Cantina Bell menu, Lorena Garcia! She was in San Leandro, CA, to debut her newest menu item (Cantina Double Steak Quesadillas) and train Taco Bell team members. Born in Venezuela, Chef Lorena was a top 3 finalist on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and has traveled the world cooking. She has appeared on numerous TV shows, including NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and “Today Show,” she is also a series regular on “America’s Next Great Restaurant.”
I was extremely excited to get to interview her, I hope you enjoy it!
TMCC: Thanks for taking time to talk to me today, I really appreciate it. I’d like to hear more about the Cantina Bell menu that you created for Taco Bell. What do you hope to accomplish with this menu?
Chef Lorena: To continue to create and support the Cantina Bell menu, a platform that will allow for the brand to stay current for years to come into a fantastic menu. To partake in creating a window of evolution within the Taco Bell brand, offering great ingredients with a focus on flavor and quality menu items, while still being affordable. This is something that is revolutionary in the fast food industry.
TMCC: What made you want to partner with Taco Bell?
Chef Lorena: The opportunity to bring good quality menu items while maintaining affordability to the majority of consumers nationwide. To be the agent of change and offer this option of great flavors to Taco Bell and reach the amount of people they do everyday.
TMCC: What is your favorite item on the Cantina Bell menu?
Chef Lorena: The new Steak Quesadilla releasing later this year…no, no…the Cantina Bell Bowl…no, no. Oh man, I can’t choose just one!
Here’s a picture of the new Cantina Double Steak Quesadilla, doesn’t it look delicious?!
TMCC: I know you’ve traveled all around the world, what country has the best food?
Chef Lorena: Too hard to pick! Italy, France, South America all are a unique source of ingredients and flavor. I can’t pick, they all bring something different to the table.
TMCC: What country eats the healthiest foods?
Chef Lorena: Japan, in my opinion, has very healthy eating habits.
TMCC: Besides working with Taco Bell, what other projects are you working on?!
Chef Lorena: My 3rd restaurant, also my 2nd book! Still doing new projects with my foundation, “Big Chef, Little Chef,” and serving as a producer for four different television shows. And of course, developing new recipes for my Cantina Bell menu at Taco Bell.
Whew! You definitely have a lot on your plate! 😉
TMCC: As a Top Latina Chef, many young girls and women look up to you. In a society that stresses looks and tells girls and women they must be skinny in order to be beautiful-what eating advice would you give to young girls and women out there that are reading this?
Chef Lorena: There’s a balance to everything. Staying in shape is necessary to be healthy. Being healthy affects self-esteem, focus, and perseverance to achieve any goals you set for yourself; to always go further and accomplish everything you may want. Pay attention to what you eat, practice portion control and stay active.
TMCC: If you could prepare a meal for any celebrity/famous person, who would it be and what would you prepare?!
Chef Lorena: President Clinton, for his wisdom and point of view. Ellen DeGeneres, just to laugh! Deepak Chopra for meditation and vision board. Julia Childs, who is an incredible influencer in the culinary world-I would love to pick her brain. As for what I would make, keeping it simple, I would love to showcase the typical Latin cuisine I love. A feast of taquitos, empanaditas, arepas, main course pabellon criollo, limo saltado, black bean stew, sweet plantains, peruvian corn, seafood enchilado, served family style. Show the flavors that represent my culture. For dessert, almojabana bread pudding with sharp queso fresco, and membrillo with a citrus melao (which is a cinnamon citrus light syrup). I could go on, but I think that will do!
TMCC: Indeed it will-that sounds terrific! If there’s any leftovers, send ’em over my way! I want to thank you for speaking with me and I wish you much continued success in all you do!
You know I had to try the new Cantina Bell menu, right? I ordered the Cantina Chicken Burrito and I was blown away! This is what a burrito should taste like! It is unlike anything else I have ever tasted at Taco Bell- it was delicious. The first thing I tasted when I bit into it was the cilantro, then the guacamole, the chicken is seasoned to perfection! Here’s a little blurb about the Cantina Steak Burrito off the Taco Bell website: “Experience our all new tender-braised thick cut steak marinated in Chef Lorena Garcia’s authentic Latin recipe, premium Latin rice, flavorful black beans, guacamole made from real Hass avocados, pico de gallo prepared fresh daily, roasted corn & pepper salsa and a creamy cilantro dressing, all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. Also available in Chicken or Veggie.”
Chef Lorena, your Cantina Bell menu rocks! Muy delicioso!
**Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, I was NOT paid to write it. I had an opportunity to interview a Top Chef and I jumped on it! All opinions are my own. **
Special thanks to Monique Frausto & Betti Ortega, for helping make this interview possible!