About the author

Cookbook/History Author Adán Medrano

Adán Medrano is a Chef, Food Writer and Filmmaker. Author of “Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage In Recipes” – Book Of The Year Finalist by Foreword Reviews.

His most recent book, Don’t Count the Tortillas – The Art of Texas Mexican Cooking, is reviewed and listed by “Spruce Eats” in “The 8 Best Mexican cookbooks to read in 2021.” Both history/cookbooks are academically peer-reviewed and published by Texas Tech University Press.

He is the Executive Producer, Writer of the feature film documentary, “Truly Texas Mexican” streaming on Amazon Prime.

Medrano spent 23 years traveling and working throughout Latin America, Europe and Asia where he came to recognize the importance of food and culinary traditions in society. He returned to the US in 2010 to focus on the culinary traditions of the Mexican American community of Texas: its history, recipes, and how this singular cuisine is showing the way towards a better understanding of what it means to be “American.”

The Mexican cuisine of Texas opens insights into how 15,000-year indigenous traditions suffered from and successfully dealt with  immigrant colonial peoples who arrived 500 years ago. Colonial immigrants forcibly brought African slaves to the Americas. African traditions eventually met Native American peoples, and tastes and communities were formed, nourished by a new cuisine.

Adán Medrano is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His professional work in restaurant kitchens includes fine dining at “Restaurant Ten Bogaerde” in Belgium, and volunteering as the Chef of Houston’s Casa Juan Diego, a shelter for homeless persons. He has lectured about food & culture at academic institutions, including Harvard University Coop, Colorado College, Culinary Institute of America, and Northeastern University. He has showcased his recipes at national gatherings of the National Association of Latino Arts And Cultures, at Brennan’s restaurant in Houston,  at “Nao,” the CIA restaurant in San Antonio, and at the American Book Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Adán is also an award-winning filmmaker and holds a Master of Arts degree in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1976 he founded the San Antonio CineFestival, the first and now longest-running Latino film festival in the USA. His recent documentary feature film, Truly Texas Mexican, won “Best Documentary” at the New York Independent Cinema Awards.  He has provided consulting services and created media productions for: The White House, The Vatican, The National Conference Of Catholic Bishops, among others, both in the US and internationally.


Present       JM Communications: Food Writer, Film Producer:  Culinary Arts

1986-2010 JM Communications: Media Arts Philanthropy

  • Award financial grants and manage the Media Arts grant-making 
 program in Latin American countries including: –Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Mexico and the Caribbean. 
Write monthly analysis of regional media arts trends
  • Award financial grants and manage Media Arts grant-making program 
    –The Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia. 
Write monthly analysis of media trends in the arts, Southeast Asia.
  • Evaluate art and educational media projects that received Foundation
 financial support in:
    –Great Britain, Belgium, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Canada.


  • Chef, Radical Eats Restaurant, Houston, Texas
  • Chef (Volunteer), Casa Juan Diego Homeless Shelter, Houston, Texas
  • Chef de Partie, Restaurant Ten Bogaerde, Koksijde, Belgium

1982-86         CBS Television Network, New York: National News Producer/Writer

1982-86         Founding President, Hispanic Telecommunications Network

1975-81          Founder and Director, San Antonio CineFestival, the nation’s first and currently
the longest-running Annual International Latino Film Festival (Funded by the NEA since 1978)

1979-82          Publisher: “El Visitante Dominical” Spanish-language national Catholic weekly,

1979-82          Associate Director, Oblate Missions Development Office

1977-81          “Emerging Media Artists Grants Program”: directed the NEA-funded
 re-granting media arts program to support Latina and Latino media 

1973-78          Executive Director, Centro Video, San Antonio, Texas

Selected Professional Activities
.Consultant on development of policy for minority ownership in broadcasting 

.Commissioner, Appointed by Governor of the State of Texas to a 6-year term

.Invited expert, committee to write the papal document on social 
 communications, “Aetatis Novae” (1989)

.Policy Panel for Media Arts (1978-84)
 .Media Arts Panel (1978-85)

.Review Panel for Public Programs (1979-83)

.Review Panel, Proposal evaluation (1979-83)

.Film Committee (1994-2000)

.Board of Directors, Officer: Secretary (Present)

.Board Chair (2018)

FRESH ARTS COALITION – Houston Artists and Arts Organizations
.Board of Directors (2014)

.Board of Directors (Present)

.Communications Committee (1991-94)

.Juror, The Ecumenical Jury (2001)

.Juror, The Ecumenical Jury (1988)

.Juror, The Ecumenical Jury (2004)

.President, Board of Directors (2013-2015

.Board of Directors (2006-2009)

.President, Board of Directors (2008-2010)

.Board of Directors (2002-05)

.President (2005-09)

Board Chair (2018)

BANF (BIPOC Arts and Network Fund) financed by Ford Foundation, Houston Endowment, Kinder 
 Foundation, Brown Foundation et al.)
Founding Steering Committee (2020-2022)

2010 Culinary Institute Of America
Certificate in Culinary Arts

1977 Master of Arts Degree
Radio, TV, Film
The University of Texas
Austin, Texas

1970 Bachelor of Arts Degree
Philosophy and Journalism
Creighton University
Omaha, Nebraska

Selected Cooking Events, Lectures, Publications
Moscow, Russian Federation: Featured Chef for Culinary Diplomacy, invited by the US Ambassador to 
Russia, for guests at the US Ambassador residence, (2019).

Texas Historical Commission: Opening Night Keynote Speaker, Annual “Real Places” Conference, 

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU): Featured speaker, President’s Opening 
 Reception. (2021)

Metropolitan State University of Denver: “Inaugural XicanArte y Cultura Visiting Professor.” (2023)

Foodways Texas: Keynote Speaker, “The Texas Mexican Table,” (2015)

San Antonio Symphony: Live Cooking Performance, “Molcajete y Nopalitos,” with orchestra, (2019)

Encuentro: The Native American Roots of Texas Mexican Food: Project Director, cooking showcase 
 and symposium funded by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for 
 the Humanities (2023).

“Belief In Media: Cultural Perspectives on Media and Christianity” – Editor, peer-reviewed 
 book published by Ashgate Publishing Limited, England, (2004).

“Truly Texas Mexican – A Native Culinary Heritage In Recipes”—Author, peer-reviewed book 
 published by Texas Tech University Press, (2014).

“Don’t Count The Tortillas – The Art Of Texas Mexican Cooking” – Author, peer-reviewed book published 
 by Texas Tech University Press, spring, (2019).

“An Evening of Texas Mexican Food, Film and Meaning” Curator/Chef–Food and Film art 
 performance hosted by Aurora Picture Show, (2013).

“An Introduction To Texas Mexican Cuisine,” presentation to the Society Of Fellows, The 
 Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio, Texas, (2014).

“Indigenous Foods of Texas and Identity,” paper presented at the Annual Meeting of The American Folklore Society, (2014).

“Beyond Tex-Mex: Rediscovering Texas’ 10,000-Year-Old Cuisine” published in The Texas 
 Observer, (2017).

“Terroir Shaped San Antonio’s Unique Cuisine” published in the book, “300 Years Of San 
 Antonio & Bexar County,” (2018).

“Gulf Coast Crab Cocktail With Avocado and History,” Houston Chronicle, (2014),

“Long Before Tex-Mex, a 15,000-Year-Old Cuisine Left Its Mark,” Atlas Obscura, (2019).

Museum of Fine Arts Houston: “Art + Cuisine,” a lecture on culinary arts with a sit-down chef’s 
 exhibition menu, (2016).

“The Candy Shop,” an Art Exhibit–Cook and present Mexican candies as art objects, (2011).

Culinary Consultant to the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, creating signature 
 cocktail, Southwest Airlines, “The Southwest Sunrise,” (2013).

Other Lectures and Cooking Demonstrations on Indigenous Food History, Culinary Cultures
—Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York
—Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
—Harvard Coop, Boston, Massachusetts
—Aspen Film, Aspen, Colorado
—The Food Lab, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
—The Yorkshire Dales Food Festival, England
—The American Book Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands —The Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston
—Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
—Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
—Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
—Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX
—Palo Alto College, San Antonio, TX
—American Folklore Society Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, NM
—Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
—Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
—Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, San Antonio, TX
—The University of Denver, Denver, CO
—Denver Metropolitan State University, Denver, CO
—Texas A&M University, College Station, Denver, CO
— New York University, Queens College, New York, NY
— Humanities Texas, Austin, TX

Selected Media Productions
“Truly Texas Mexican” Executive Producer/Writer—Documentary Feature

  • Winner, Best Documentary, New York Independent Cinema Awards;
  • Audience Choice Award, 
 Hill Country Film Festival
  • Finalist, Best Documentary, 25th Red Nation Film Festival
  • Official Selection: Sonoma International Film Festival; Mallorca International Film Festival; London Gold Movie Awards; Montreal Independent Film Festival

“Mexican American Cultural Center Mission” Producer/Writer—Telly Award; The Communicator Award

“Portraits of Faith: The Church in America” Producer/Writer— Gabriel Award; Fulton J. Sheen Award; 
 Telly Award.

“Hope In A Time of AIDS” Producer/Writer— Telly Award; American Medical Association Media Award.

“Soul Of The City” Producer/Writer— International Film and Video Festival Certificate of Excellence; 

“Living with AIDS: An Occasion of Grace” Producer/Writer—Gabriel Award; Gold Plaque at the Chicago 
 International Film and Video Festival.

“Comunidad” Producer/Writer—Proclaim Award.

“I Work The Land” Producer/Writer/Director–Certificate for Creative Excellence, US International Film 
 and Video Festival

“Vocación” Producer/Writer— Proclaim Award.
“Quince Años” Producer/Writer—Bronze Plaque, WorldFest Houston.
“Las Posadas” Producer/Writer—Certificate of Excellence, Information Film Producers of America, Inc. “Festival ’73,” Weekly variety entertainment show aired on Univision Television Network


35 thoughts on “About the author”

  • I truly enjoyed watching Truly Texas Mexican – it brought back so many memories of the wonderful food with which I grew up, and I learned a lot about the racism that has tried to erase our past. Thank you for this. In addition to following you because of our last names, I am honestly impressed with the work that you’ve done. Would love to meet you if you’re ever in North Carolina!

  • I just watched TRULY TEXAS MEXICAN – THE MOVIE with my wife, who is Mexican-American. We were touched by your passion for food and the legacy of the indigenous culture. We were hoping that your documentary’s theme would travel all the way to the Houston area… My wife (born in Acapulco) and I both grew up in Southern California and are new this area. Question: Do you have any recommendations for REAL “Tex-Mex” food in the greater Houston area? “Enough with the cheese already”!

  • Hi, David. Thanks very much for your message. We are Native to this land, indeed, and now more and more we are reclaiming what is a better road, a better path to a happier life that is more in harmony with nature, with each other.Have a great day,

  • Adan Medrano this David J Benavides who grew up in the Northwest Washington State. I want to Thank you very Much for your U Tube video.
    I recently have been educated by my cousin who lives in Aztec, New Mexico that we are Apache not Mexican.
    In 1864 the Legislation of Arizona Territory legalizing the killing of all Apaches. To save my family I would become a Mexican.
    Thank you Again,
    Dave Benavides 719-660-2132

  • I think Laredo has excellent food, and also important history and culture. As does Houston, Eagle Pass, Del Rio and El Paso. I plan to include these and hope that other authors and filmmakers will also,

  • Hello Adam

    I’m currently watching your special on Amazon Prime called Truly Texas. I’m about half way and I’ve seen you visit and mention San Antonio, Austin, McAllen, Brownsville but I have not heard or seen Laredo come up. Why is that? In my opinion I think Laredo has great food.

  • Hi, again, Max. How did your residency start up go? I hope it is going forward successfully and your finding and breaking new ground on food.
    I look forward to staying in touch.

  • Hi There,

    Nice to meet you, my name is Matias Gonzalez and I work for the NBCTelemundo’s Radar Telemundo. We are a show that speaks to the LatinX community reaching millennials and Gen Z viewers from across the country. We would like to invite Adan Medrano to be part of our upcoming episode on Cultural Appropriation. Which is an episode in which we’re going to discuss the importance of mental health on youth.

    Please let us know how we can make this happen. Looking forward to hearing back from you guys.

    Warm Regards, Mati

  • Hi,

    I’m a producer with the Southern Foodways Alliance and I’m working on a story about Agua Fresca. Let me know if you’d be available for an interview. Thanks!

    Best wishes,

  • Max here from out in Marfa and I’m reaching out about a Chef Residency we’re starting in Marfa.

    My wife and I are one year+ into imagining a future where local independent journalism thrives instead of just survives. Yup, we bought two newspapers and built a gathering space around it for people to engage and foster a sense of community with each other instead of yell at one another on social media.

    We see food as a means of art and conversation. There’s a whole lot to unpack down here. Following in the footsteps of other Marfa art and writing institutions like Chinati and Lannin we are launching a Residency program for chef talent and food writers to continue to explore and push boundaries given the current environment.

    I’d love to see if you might have a couple to connect and A) see what you think of our idea, B) if you, or anyone you know, might be interested in being our first resident.

    Thanks in advance,


  • Hi, Harvey. The breakfasts are great at Doña María on Navigation. Also the Picadillo, Fideo. Chalupas are also delicious. The tortillas are handmade. Also Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen right now has takeaway, and her carne guisada is wonderful, as is most of her food, incuding quail and cabrito. The Texas Mexican food at many East End restaurants is great if the restaurant is a family-run place. The corn tortillas at Taqueria Chabelita on Navigation are terrific. Her torta de lengua is very good. I’d keep searching for specialties at other family places. Good luck!

  • Adan, I really enjoyed your comments in the recent Texas Highways magazine! I live in Houston and would like to know if there are places In Houston I can experience the Texan Mexican food That you love. Thanks and I really look forward to the experience! Harvey

  • Hi Adan,

    I’m developing for National Geographic and wanted to see how we might able to work together. Please email me at manvallejose@gmail.com if you’re available for a chat. Our project is filming around Texas.


  • Hi Adan,

    I’m hoping to get your expertise on a project I’m developing for National Geographic. Please email me at manvallejose@gmail.com. I would love to tell you what we’re developing and see if we might be able to work together.


  • Hi Adan,

    Like many others posting on your website, I’m hoping to get your expertise on a project I’m developing for National Geographic. Please email me at manvallejose@gmail.com. I would love to tell you what we’re developing and see if we might be able to work together.


  • Hi Adam,

    I am a reporter with the Houston Chronicle and would like to speak with you briefly on the phone for a story. Please, can you send me a number to call you to my email? I will appreciate it.

    Olivia P. Tallet

  • Hi Adan! I ran into you on “Fronteras” and have been getting the scoop on your career throughout the years. Boy! What a career you have had. Congrats on all that you have accomplished across the decades since we were @ Creighton and your new book “Don’t Count the Tortillas.” I was so pleased to run into you on-line & to be able to catch up on your comings & goings. I had to take a break before I could finish reading your professional vita. It is truly impressive that you have accomplished so much already & it appears that you have no plans to bring your creativity to a stop. I’m so delighted for you and pray you will continue to bless us with your artistry.

    I’m retired & living in McAllen & finding joy in daily living sharing it with my male cat. I’m a news junkie so I spend a lot of time on the internet and I’m a Muslim so I pray 5 X a day so my days (& weeks & months etc) go by too fast. I like to cook myself & I plan to buy your 2nd book (at least) as soon as I can locate one. I assume it will be on Amazon. Where would you like me to purchase it? Do you have a recipe for MOLE? My 2 favorite Texas Mexican meals are chicken w/mole & rice & Calabacita & corn w/chicken.

    Hey, it’s been great visiting with you albeit in absencia. May God continue to bless you in your person & in all that you do.

    Hasta la proxima.




  • Hello Adan,
    I am a freelance writer/photographer working on an assignment for Texas Highways Magazine about pioneer foods and early Texas cuisine. I’m wondering if I can compose a few questions for you and perhaps get your recommendations on where readers might be able to sample dishes from early Texas regional cuisine.
    E. Dan Klepper

  • Hello Mr. Medrano, I enjoyed reading the recent article in the New York Times. I live in the San Antonio area. I am interested in seeing a list of restaurants that serve these unique dishes. Do you have such a list? I am ready to take a tour! Sincerely, Kurt Waldhauser

  • Hi, Richard Lasser. Glad we both share love of vegetarian foods. If you will do a search for “vegan” on my website, the recipes will pop out. Hope this helps. Have a great day.

  • Hi, David May. I will certainly look up the book. Thanks for sharing the info and for your kind words. Have a great day.

  • Hello What a fascinating career you have had! Reading your article in the NYT 4/22/19. It brought to mind an anthropological cook book I bought in Terlingua back in the
    ” Authentic Indian-Mexican Recipes” written by
    William Hardwick and published 1965 registration no.
    A 780993. This book is very much in the spirit of your mission
    and you would find it quite interesting/ helpful I believe. If you can’t find a copy ( it may have been self published) contact me and I would be happy to get a copy to you.

  • HI
    Can you send me some of your vegetarian recipes please?
    Richard Lasser

  • Hello – I am developing an Educational Symposium on behalf of The Herb Society of America (South Texas) that will take place on Saturday, April 27. There will be several lectures and other educational opportunities. The basic working theme is Herbs from Mexico and Central America, but I am open to a variety of different approaches or variations on that theme, and my definition of what constitutes an herb includes plants used for flavoring, but also in medicinal, spiritual, cosmetic (including perfumery) applications and as plant dyes. Potential topics might include indigenous herbs historically important or with current renewed interest, blending of herbal flavors and culinary techniques between cultures, tequila (along with other uses of agave in medicine and food for example), chocolate of course, a cultural history of curanderos, perhaps specific ways to use specific but less well-known herbs such as hoja santa, pipicha, or even marigolds or hibiscus. It would also be nice to have a program on designing a garden featuring herbs used in “Mexican” cooking as practiced in Texas. These are only a few of my ideas, and we have just begun to explore the possibilities. Would you be able to participate in this event, or direct me to other potential speakers? The Herb Society is committed to education, and the proceeds from this event are used to provide scholarships to college students studying agriculture of horticulture. I read your quite impressive CV and admire you for your many contributions. One in particular jumped out at me – your association with Casa Juan Diego. I was their volunteer physician for about 7 years, starting in the late eighties. It was an experience I will never forget.
    We try very hard to make our annual Education Symposium the best it can be, and I hope that you will be able to help us. Besides email, I am always available by telephone – 713-524-0414. Thank you. Karen L. Cottingham

  • Hola Adan, I would like to see if you are available to come to Colorado Springs, CO to Colorado College for two days events the week of Sept. 4th-8th. My Director Mario Montano asked me to reach out to you. My work number is (719) 389-6249 and cell is (719) 487-4059. I would love to speak with you.
    Saludos, Anabell Sintas

  • Hi, Hector.
    I don’t write about Tex-Mex food. The overuse of cumin in everything, even beans, is something that I don’t like. But it seems to have a lot of followers in Tex-Mex restaurants like Chuy’s and other similar places. I write about Texas Mexican food, which is indigenous to Texas, with a 10,000 year history of culinary traditions dating back to the first inhabitants of this land. Like Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla, Yucatán, Texas is simply another region of the larger regional indigenous cuisine that is now called Mexican. Yucatán food is very different from chilango food. As is Texas Mexican Food very different from Mexico City Mexican food. Each region has its variations, and each takes the flavors from the terroir and from the indigenous traditions of those early peoples. Here’s a review of my book that you may find helpful: http://digest.champlain.edu/images/pdf_downloads/Pack_PDF.pdf

  • Cumin in rice.
    As a chilango raised in San Antonio since 1976, I’ve grown to appreciate a lot of Tex-Mex food but I still don’t get the whole cumin in rice thing.
    It’s very rare in Mexico to use cumin as liberally as it’s done in Texas.
    How did that happen?
    I have a hard time believing that it’s a straight up organic Tex-Mex phenomenon that somehow “just happened”.
    Mexican food Wednesdays were a traumatic experience for me when I came here. Quality of the rice aside – I could count the kernels of comino in each scoop.

    I simply want to know if you have any idea how this happened.

    Honestly, comino seems incongruous to the rest of the dishes that I grew up in as a Mexican immigrant. With some notable exceptions- like tamales- comino tastes more at home in Indian foods than in rice that accompanies mole, calabacita, chilles rellenos etc. It stands out too much rather than blending in.

    I’ve seen people add it to caldo.

    I have to admit that it’s kind of a controversy for me— it’s always seemed like a spice people randomly use when trying to make something taste “Mexican”. Like in ground beef taco seasoning….we don’t do that Mexico….at least not as some quick way to Mexicanize a dish.

    In Austin, for example, in the 80s ANY Mexican restaurant always abused the spicr.

    Your thoughts.

  • Despues de leer tu blog tocante al chocolate prepare el chocolate Mejicano sin leche! Es sabor es mas intenso y complejo. Me puso a pensar… Como preparaban los Aztecas el champurrado? Tambien sin leche? Cuando fue la primer vez que se preparo el champurrado?

  • Hello, Mary. I will look forward to reading your piece3 on making masa, nixtamalization. Now that you mention it, would be interesting if Brazos Bookstore, Houston, wants to host a book reading there.

  • Hello,

    I’m a native Texan, live in Houston and writing about the ancient process of making masa prepared by traditional nixtamalization for Slow Food. Bryan Parras told me about you. I’m on the Southwest-Mountain Regional Committee for the Ark of Taste, reviewing nominations, researching, and writing about foods to be catologued for the Ark of Taste. I saw a copy of your book at Brazos Bookstore yesterday and asked if you had been there for a book signing and suggested they reach out to you. I see you were just at UoH. So sorry I missed that! I would love to talk with you. Hope to meet you soon!


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