About the author

Cookbook/History Author Adán Medrano

Cookbook Author Adan MedranoAdán Medrano is a Chef and Food Writer, author of “Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage In Recipes” – Book Of The Year Finalist by Foreword Reviews. His upcoming book, “Don’t Count the Tortillas – The Art of Texas Mexican Cooking,” is published by Texas Tech University Press, to be released Summer, 2019

He spent 23 years travelling 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. He continues producing media with a focus on food.  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.

Vita

Education

2010 Culinary Institute Of America
Certificate in Culinary Arts

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

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

Career

Present
JM Communications
Food Writer, Producer, Culinary Arts

2006-2010
Chef, Radical Eats Restaurant, Houston, Texas
Chef, Casa Juan Diego Homeless Shelter, Houston, Texas
Chef de Partie, Restaurant Ten Bogaerde, Koksijde, Belgium

1986-2008  JM Communications, Owner, Media Arts and Communications Philanthropy
Responsibilities:

•Award financial grants and manage the Media Arts grant-making program on behalf of a coalition of international foundations in support of artistic, educational, religious and social not-for-profit organizations 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 trends;

•Award financial grants and manage the grant-making program in support of Art and
Educational Media Projects of not-for-profit organizations in
—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, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Canada.

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

1982-86      Founding President, Hispanic Telecommunications Network weekly production of “Nuestra Familia” TV series broadcast on Univision TV 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, Huntington, Indiana

1979-82      Associate Director, Oblate Missions Development Office:  Direct Mail Solicitation,
Large Donor Cultivation, Deferred Giving

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

1973-78       Executive Director, Centro Video, San Antonio, Texas
Television and documentary video production

Selected Professional Activities

THE WHITE HOUSE

.Consultant on development of policy for minority ownership in broadcasting (1978)

TEXAS COMMISSION ON THE ARTS

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

(1983‑89)

THE VATICAN, PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS

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

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS

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

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

.Review Panel for Public Programs (1979‑83)

CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING

.Review Panel, Proposal evaluation (1979‑83)

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ARTS AND CULTURE

.Board of Directors (Present)

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS/UNITED STATES CATHOLIC CONFERENCE

.Communications Committee (1991‑94)

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON

.Film Committee (1994‑2000)

HOUSTON ARTS ALLIANCE

.Board of Directors, Officer: Secretary (Present)

FRESH ARTS COALITION – Houston Artists and Arts Organizations

.Board of Directors (2014)

SOUTHWEST ALTERNATE MEDIA PROJECT, INC.

.President, Board of Directors (2013-2015

THE AURORA PICTURE SHOW -VIDEO ART

.Board of Directors (2006-2009)

WORLD ASSOCIATION FOR CHRISTIAN COMMUNICATION, NORTH AMERICA

.President, Board of Directors (2008-2010)

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

.Juror, The Ecumenical Jury (2001)

CARTAGENA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

.Juror, The Ecumenical Jury (1988)

SAN SEBASTIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

.Juror, The Ecumenical Jury (2004)

CULTURAL ARTS COUNCIL OF HOUSTON

.Board of Directors (2002-05)

THE MEDIA, RELIGION AND CULTURE PROECT

.President   (2005-09)

THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON, CENTER FOR MEXICAN AMERICAN STUDIES ADVISORY BOARD

.Board Chair (2018)

Selected Professional Activities

“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, Summer, 2019.

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

“Notes on Cooking” (2011). Producer/Writer – Video series on cultural and social issues
surrounding contemporary food and cooking.

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

Lectures and Demonstrations on Indigenous Food History, Culinary Cultures, Tools and Techniques

–Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York

–Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts

–Harvard Coop, Boston, Massachusetts

–The Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston

–The American Book Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

–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

–The American Book Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

–Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Denver

“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 Folkore 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

Museum of Fine Arts Houston: “Art + Cuisine,” a lecture on culinary arts as an aesthetic
practice impacting identity and community, with a sit-down chef’s exhibition menu,
2016

“The Candy Shop,” an Art Exhibit –Cook and present Mexican candies as art objects, a
collaboration with three visual artists and sculptors, 2011

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

Media Productions

“The Roots Of Texas Mexican Food” Executive Producer/Writer—Documentary Feature currently in post-production

“Mexican American Cultural Center Mission” Producer/Writer– DVD documentary, Telly
Award, The Communicator Award

“Portraits of Faith: The Church in America” Producer/Writer– DVD documentary.
Gabriel Award. Fulton J Sheen Award, Telly Award.

“Hope In A Time of AIDS” Producer/Writer– half-hour television program.
Telly Award, American Medical Association Media Award.

“Soul Of The City” Producer/Writer– half-hour television program about public rituals,
International Film and Video Festival Certificate of Excellence. Gabriel Award.
Broadcast on PBS and in Belgium.

“Living with AIDS:  An Occasion of Grace” Producer/Writer–  30‑minute TV documentary
Gabriel Award, Gold Plaque at the Chicago International Film and Video Festival.

“Comunidad” Producer/Writer– 20‑minute video documentary.  Proclaim Award.

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

“Vocación” Producer/Writer  10‑minute video documentary. Proclaim Award.

“Quince Años”  Producer/Writer– Bronze Plaque at the WorldFest Houston.

“Las Posadas” Producer/Writer– half‑hour Christmas TV Special. Certificate of Excellence,
Information Film Producers of America, Inc.

“Festival ’73,” Weekly variety entertainment show aired on Univision Television Network

“Nuestra Familia” Weekly Sunday morning on religion and social issues, aired nationally on
Univision Television Network

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9 thoughts on “About the author”

  • 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!

    Mary

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