My name is Daniel Espinoza, I am the Chef for Latin American cuisine at Olam Spices. My role is to innovate and create, while always spearheading nostalgia to its deep core. I am located in Chicago, Illinois and began working with Olam in January 2021.
Tell us about your background and your experience in the industry.
My journey began in Chicago, Illinois at Lincoln Park Café and then Carmichael’s Steakhouse. I graduated from the culinary arts program at Kendall College in 2010. I found my first role in a high-caliber kitchen at Carlos Gaytan’s Michelin rated restaurant, Mexique. From here, I ascended to sous chef and went on to cook at Michelin star restaurant, Bistrot de Saveurs in Castres, France, The Ausable Club in New York, as well as The Drawing Room and TWO back in Chicago, before returning to Mexique until 2013.
I spent the next couple of years as Dinner Lab’s Chicago-based chef de cuisine, traveling the country with restaurant pop-ups and opening new markets while training chefs and cooks. In my spare time, I run an underground supper club, "Anomar," named after my grandmother -- the pillar of where my love for Mexican cuisine started.
If you had to cook a meal for someone you care about, what would you cook them and why?
Course 1 - Hamachi crudo cured in hibiscus and smoked chipotle. Served over a raw salsa verde, pickled tarragon grapes, lemon curd, spicy pork rinds, fresh mint and cilantro
Course 3 - Michoacan style corundas, served with michoacan style carnitas and chicharron en salsa verde, jocoque, queso fresco, onion ash, pickled carrots and radishes
Course 4 - Pan seared duck breast that has been brined in chamomile and other aromatics, blackberry mole, a handmade heirloom corn quesadilla with squash blossom and pickled blackberries
Course 5 - Horchata cinnamon souffle, served with a hibiscus anglaise, lime zest, puffed wild rice and a caramelized white chocolate crumble
I would choose these five courses to help explain who I am as a chef/person, where I come from, where I've been and where am I now.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that I am in the forefront of a lot of development of products that everyday consumers buy. I enjoy sharing the story, history and explaining why certain ingredients “live” with each other in such blends. Whether it is the beautiful regions or the climate that allows such spices to thrive.
If and when you're ready to start brainstorming or co-creating recipes with Chef Danny, please contact your account manager.
Most recently Chef Espinoza and team won the prestige pork competition “Cochon 555” crowning him the prince of pork in Chicago. In 2017, Espinoza was nominated as a finalist for “eater young guns”. In 2016, he participated in “Top Chef Mexico,” during which he tested his Chicano cooking style to high praise by finishing in the top 4 out of 15 competitors.
In 2016, Espinoza consulted on Lincoln Park’s Holy Taco! that earned his barbacoa recipe “one of 100 best things we ate” by Timeout Chicago and earned a place among Zagat’s “30 Under 30” in 2015. He resides in Chicago’s West Humboldt neighborhood with his wife, Chef Jhoana Ruiz. In his free time, he enjoys sketching, hanging out with his gentle giant of a goldendoodle, Benny, reading and keeping up with this food industry.