TABASCO® talks with Regan Porteous, Executive Chef at Tequila Mockingbird

TABASCO® took some time to have a quick chat with Tequila Mockingbird's Executive Chef, Regan Porteous. He takes us through the story behind his new restaurant, his food inspirations and how spice plays a role in his kitchen.

Tell us about the food ethos at Tequila Mockingbird

We are a brand new restaurant in a beautiful community with a lot of history. The food we are creating is new and we are touching into traditional dishes of Latin America that has a rich history. Our aim is to pay homage to Latin American cuisine by using Australian produce and bringing a new exciting style of food to the community that has our guests leaving, feeling like they’ve just had a dining experience overseas. We will be using the best produce we can get our hands on to create fun dishes with big flavours, which we like to refer to as Pichicata… your flavour fix!

Is there a process in developing new recipes for the restaurant? Where do you and the team find inspiration?

The team and I are constantly thinking of new ideas to create unique Latin American inspired dishes. We have close relations with suppliers and are always on the lookout for new produce that may be coming into season. For example this spring brings us tomatillos and Peruvian chillies from local suppliers who are just as excited as us to be able to show case some of their amazing produce.

What role does heat and spice play in your cooking?

Heat and spice play a massive role in Mexican and Peruvian cuisine and we’re very lucky to have sourced amazing Mexican and Peruvian peppers that feature in many of our recipes throughout the menu. We have had to work very carefully with the peppers and tone down the heat for the Australian palate, while ensuring that the flavours of the peppers are not out shone by the impact of the heat. Balance here is very important!

Can you explain how you’ve used the different TABASCO® Pepper sauce flavours in the two dishes you’ve prepared and why?

I’ve chosen to use the TABASCO® Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce for the Whitefish Tiradito, as it is a lot milder than the red. It will complement the delicate slices of paper thin raw fish with a subtle spice. I’ve matched the TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce with a crisp soft-shell crab Taco. The TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce is rich and smoky in flavour, and will hold with the strength of the crab meat and pickled onions.

What is inspiring you - food-wise - at the moment?

Ingredients and flavours of Latin America. We’re having a great time exploring new products, tasting and creating dishes from our take on each product. The warmer seasons coming up will also match the menu as temperatures set a mood for what diners feel like eating. It’s not obvious but it should definitely be a factor that is thought of when designing dishes and menus.

Which is your favourite TABASCO® Pepper Sauce flavour?

I prefer the TABASCO® Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce, it’s slightly less common, and goes perfectly with fresh lime and coriander flavours.

What is your most memorable dish from the past year?

Astrid and Gaston Panchita restaurant in Lima has an amazing Seco braised goat leg. It’s slow cooked in coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger and chillies.

Best tip for cooking with spices?

Take it easy! Introduce chillies and peppers gradually, because too much heat can spoil a dish.

Your favourite dish to cook at home?
Fresh, homemade pasta, run through the machine, and tossed through a great sauce… I’ve got a few of Nona’s recipes.