Friday, February 20, 2009

Hot Chef Alert – El Camino Real's Jennifer Zavala

chef jennifer zavala, el camino realIn the wake of some mixed reviews for El Camino Real, we are going to go ahead and give head chef Jennifer Zavala (and the Elkie in general) a vote of confidence.

While our own experiences have admittedly been somewhat mixed as well — some things have been excellent, some items have been just ok, service lacking at times — we have to believe in the potential of the place, and therefore are not willing to give up on it before it’s even two months old.

Moreover, Philadelphia could use a few more head chefs who also happen to be hot and female. (Just sayin'.) Especially when they’re described as a “petite, tattooed firecracker” in the restaurant’s promotional material. Because that’s awesome.
For the food, Chef Zavala – a 30 year old, petite, tattooed firecracker who has worked in Connecticut, California, North Carolina, St. Croix and Manhattan – was inspired by her over-the-border visit with [Owner Owen] Kamihira to Texas and Mexico, as well as her own Mexican heritage.

A self-described “culinary gypsy,” she applies her experience traveling with Ozzfest as a rock ‘n’ roll chef and channels that same hard-living, untamed spirit which also characterizes border life and fare.
Untamed indeed.

Hopefully, Zavala irons out any kinks in the kitchen and El Camino starts kicking ass.

Meanwhile, a comment about the design of the space: it feels a bit conflicted. El Camino professes a desire for an authentic border bar feel, however, that’s hard to achieve with an open kitchen and a wealth of windows onto the street, which immediately limit any ‘from-dusk-til-dawn’ type of vibe. Which, to us, would be a cooler feel for an “authentic” border bar boasting a menu of lots of whiskey, tequila and bourbon. You know, updated a little and without the vampires.

El Camino Real [ Official Site ]

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