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Besos Latinos - Latin Kisses

- 21 APRIL 2020 -


Currently, Mexican food in New Zealand is mainly in chains and food trucks.
But if you have been lucky enough to have actually visited Mexico (a few hours in Tijuana is not your best reference), you would agree with us, the ‘basic’ food is not a fair representation of the depth of flavour and use of produce created in Mexico. It’s time to change the perception and keep in mind that Mexican and Latin American food is not just a style of food - it’s a culture. It’s not a dish - it’s a way of life.
It is passion, tradition and love!

Mexican food is about balance. It’s about adjusting each dish to the age of the tomatoes, choosing each chilli or knowing where the limes came from to know how sharp they are and countless other factors that separate the result between a downloaded recipe from the internet or a true pride and respect for a culinary background. Every ingredient has a journey of flavour which contributes to the dish, and every recipe, method of preparation and cooking has been handed down from generation to generation.

Everything Luis and Cecelia create is connected to their roots, and they feel the same spirit within New Zealanders - making it a perfect marriage. Luis explains to me “When you watch a haka, the Maori bring all their ancestors with them to the challenge and we are the same with food and our goods. Our ancestors are in these pieces and in these dishes”

Luis and Cecilia will be opening their new Besos Latinos restaurant in the thriving Wynyard Quarter. In Spanish, Besos means kiss, creating emotion. Latin kisses on your lips, food touching the lips, and when it touches your lips you have an instant emotional response. Cecilia’s idea behind Besos Latinos, was that their original home was so far from NZ, her friends, her family and her food that she wanted to bring some of her old home to her new home. She spoke with Luis about her idea and her dream and how to make NZ have her soul as well as her heart. Cecilia is so passionate and has used Besos Latinos as a platform to promote Latin American artists, organised a number of special events with the Mexican, Chilean, Argentinian, Colombian and Brazilian embassies and more – she is such a strong advocate and ambassador for the Latin community in New Zealand  and has carried out several charity events to support orphan children in Latin America through an organization called NPH (Nuestros Pequeños Hemanos).  

So, the new location restaurant will open at the end of this year and their intention is that you will feel like you are dining at a family table, with traditional food that evokes their heritage and stories.When the doors open you will feel the energy and emotion of Latin America. Luis goes on to share “New Zealand is a champion of the melting pot and we want to be a part of that, to be proud Kiwis sharing our Mexican history.”

The walls have been done by hand, the artefacts done by hand. They want people to be involved and to be captured by something that’s created by people, real people from their hearts, from their hands, from their heritage. They want to respect nature and honour their ancestors. Everything you will see has been hand made from artisans in Mexico.

Helping their people back home and supporting sustainability and community spirit is vital to the couple, and most of these crafts have been in each family for generations. Mainly from rural communities, you will see the glassware is all hand made and hand blown just like the embellishments on the walls and in the bathrooms. Some of the village ladies wake at 4am to turn on the fires to create the pottery, each piece unique and imperfectly perfect.

As Luis and Cecilia are proud of where they come from, they are committed to representing their culture to kiwis in a positive way and to change the sometimes bad reputation of Latin America to tradition and flavour! And positive perception is what they are doing in spades! Just recently Besos Latinos was invited to the Hacienda Patron in Mexico. An exclusive invitation-only destination, they hand select guests who embody their Patron spirit. The hacienda is a decadent estate where Luis was invited to taste the single barrel limited edition batches, tasting tequila’s that are $600 a shot, USD$9000 a bottle. He arrives home to find that barrel is now his own label Patron Besos Latinos and will now be served in his new restaurant! Wow! 

Ok so who doesn’t love Obama? While he was in NZ, Luis went to his Hotel and cooked for him personally. It was tricky to decide what to cook for him because security couldn’t confirm what exact time. His favourite dish is Huevos Rancheros and he loves refried beans and different salsas oh and chillies, lots of chilli! Well, he ate everything and asked for more. He was so impressed with Luis’s cooking that he made an exception to meet Luis and have a photo opportunity, something he rarely does these days.

Tradition, pride, passion and flavour – Your new best way to travel to Latin America with a short trip to the heart of Auckland.