Next time you’re in Chicago, make sure you stop by host Carla’s colorful home for some of the best Spanish and Mexican food in the Windy City.
Tell us about yourself and your foodie story. How did you get into cooking and why is it important to you?
It was actually my grandma who sparked my love of cooking. I’m from Mexico and food is an important part of our culture! My grandma used to make everything in the old style, like beating egg whites with a fork and making cookies and mole from scratch. When I was little, I used to going into her kitchen and getting lost amongst the smells and flavors.
When and why did you start hosting with Eatwith?
It’s been more than three years now! I joined Eatwith when I moved to Chicago from Spain, where I was working in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
I’m also a photographer and I discovered the Eatwith concept when I was on a shoot. I fell in love with the idea that you can host people from all around the world who love food.
Who is your inspiration?
My grandma, for sure. Watching and helping her in the kitchen wasn’t just art; it was magic. The way she whipped eggs or baked cakes or even stretched dough with her knees!
Now, let’s talk about your food! What is your favorite cuisine and why?
Spanish and Mexican, for sure! I believe the best way to learn new things in the kitchen is by cooking with local families around the world – that’s how I learnt to make my signature paella and other Spanish favorites.
My personal favorite dish to both make and eat is ceviche and fideuà, which is a Valencian specialty that is similar to paella but made with noodles instead of rice. I also love baking my own homemade bread!
Tell us about your Eatwith experience. What can guests expect from your event?
My first-time guests are always curious about what is going to happen. For a lot of them, the concept is foreign but they’re looking for new experiences. Once we’ve shared a meal together, they always say it exceeded their expectations and most of the time they’ll come back again!
My husband Ronaldo and I usually make a playlist to go with the menu that we’re serving that night. We try to choose traditional songs that come from the same region as the food.
One of my most popular events is a tapas and live Flamenco show (fun fact: Ronaldo is actually a Flamenco dancer and teacher!). Guests mix and mingle over my peach sangria while Ronaldo puts on a show and teaches guests a few moves! Afterwards, we sit down all together and I prepare an array of Spanish tapas. It’s a really unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in Chicago!
If you could host a special guest (dead or alive) who would you invite to your table?
Probably Frida Kahlo. I would love to talk to her, play music and remember Mexico together. I would tell her she was wrong when she didn’t enjoy her life in the United States! I’d take her on a walking tour around Chicago so I can show her all my favorite places.
What message/feeling do you want people to take away after they’ve tasted your cooking?
If you enjoy what you are doing, then the more you will enjoy life and the less it will feel like work.