Why We Love Camille Becerra
Camille’s not merely a chef but a force of nature at the intersection of food, art and culture. She’s a powerful advocate of healthful, seasonal ingredients that nourish body and soul – and devotes equal attention to atmosphere, creating light and airy spaces that immediately makes one feel at home.
“Food is health, and everything our bodies needs comes from food.”
“At first you have so many ingredients and you want to pile everything in, then you realize it’s more about the technique and quality of the ingredients. So you simplify.”
You stress a "simple" approach to food. Why?
I think it’s just the natural progression of a chef. First you cook, and you have so many ingredients and you want to pile everything in. Then, as you develop, you realize it’s more about the quality of the ingredients and the technique you use and really sort of wanting to simplify things.
What do you look for in travel?
Going to a food destination, like Portugal. There’s all these classic ingredient combinations that are something they always do. It’s part of their tradition. That’s always really inspiring to me. And then also ancient cooking techniques and just how they eat. You go to Spain, they eat very late. You go to Mexico City, it’s a really big breakfast culture. That’s all really intriguing.
What excites you most about making your first trip to Portugal?
Some places can get too touristy and start to cater to an American style of eating, but I feel like Portugal, because it’s sort of new on the must-go list, still has this original feel. And it's very open and clear about what their food culture or everyday lifestyle is. That's really inspiring to me.
In what way has your travel inspired your life back home?
I really enjoy not thoroughly planning my adventure and just seeing how the day unfolds on its own. And that sort of comes into play with my regular life. Just knowing what I want, but not being super highly specific about it. And just being open to what happens naturally.
You have a lot of great hats. Do you get them on trips?
I've always been a hat person! It’s started by me having to wear a hat while cooking professionally in a kitchen. Now I find them everywhere. I just went to Marfa, Texas, and got this cowboy hat. It’s huge. In Spain, I was looking for a bolero-style hat. I feel when I see a good hat I feel I just have to get it.
What's the ultimate souvenir?
I’m always picking up something from a culture. Certainly I’m always bringing back distinctive spices, or a traditional tool of some sort. In Mexico, for instance, I brought back this beautiful pepita powder. I don't know yet what I'll be bringing back from Portugal!