Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Remembering Miguel Ravago (1945–2017) of Fonda San Miguel

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Miguel Ravago this weekend—the visionary chef behind Austin’s Fonda San Miguel restaurant.
Miguel Ravago of Fonda San Miguel
Ravago earned rave reviews for his subtle and complex dishes that defined Fonda San Miguel’s menu and brought interior Mexican cuisine to central Texas. From Tostadas de Cochinita Pibil to start, to Carne Asada a la Tampiqueña, and Cajeta Crepes to finish, every meal at Fonda San Miguel was a reflection of Ravago’s passion and his childhood spent cooking at his grandmother’s side.
“I was also curious about cooking,” Ravago wrote for the restaurant’s official cookbook, Fonda San Miguel: Forty Years of Food andArt, “so my grandmother started showing me things like how to fill tamales. By the time I was six or seven, I was helping in the kitchen quite a bit. . . . So even when I was pretty young, I think I knew I wanted to be a chef.”
When Fonda San Miguel first opened in 1971, almost 50 years ago, a restaurant featuring authentic Mexican cuisine was a daring idea in a city where Tex-Mex food reigned supreme. Ravago and co-owner Tom Gilliland won over customers who expected a “No. 1 Enchilada Dinner” to build a loyal clientele of adventuresome eaters who came as much for the romantic hacienda-style décor as the food.
Ravago and co-owner Tom Gilliland
“After thirty years, cooking is still great fun for me,” wrote Ravago. “I especially enjoy the Hacienda Sunday Buffet, which always features four entrees from four different states in Mexico. This gives me a chance to help people learn about the food. If customers tell me they’re planning a trip to a certain region of Mexico, I show them what dishes to taste so they’ll know what kind of food to expect. Sometimes they come back and say the food wasn’t as good as Fonda San Miguel’s, and that’s always nice to hear. . . . I’ve always been curious about food, and I love to see people learn more about Mexican cuisine.”

In the spirit of Ravago’s desire to share Mexico’s diverse regional dishes, click through for a few recipes from Fonda San Miguel, including a tequila toast to a trailblazer for Mexican cuisine in America.

Click images to enlarge.

Tequila Shots, Fonda San Miguel-style:

You'll need to make this Acihote Rub to prepare Agujas de Res:

Agujas de Res—one of Ravago's favorites:

Don't Forget Dessert:

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