Alex Stupak’s assignment for ModMEX was masa. When his team at Empellon spread masa in a thin layer on a silpat and baked it in the oven, the result was "the most delicious cracker we’ve ever had.“ Stupak paired his masa crackers with a sea urchin guacamole. "Will we serve a guacamole for $8? Sure we will. Will we serve a guacamole for $30? Sure we will. Because it’s worth it.”


“I come from a really poor family, and I’m really grateful for it. I remember going hunting with my father and coming back with deer and rabbits…my mother used to go to the field because we didn’t have money to go to the market, and I was always really excited to see what my mother would bring back…it was amazing what she used to find up there. I’d invited my friends over and they’d complain about not eating traditional Mexican food, the food they were used to. But they never wanted to leave. They never wanted to go home.” - Carlos Gaytan at his ModMEX demo. Gaytan’s dish was a braised lamb belly huarache with spicy eggplant marmalade.

modDF :: Jorge Vallejo

Vallejo is the chef at Quintonil, where his application of new techniques to traditional Mexican ingredients has earned him the reputation of being Mexico City’s most exciting chef. (The fact that he is in his early 30s makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.)

For his ModMex demo, Vallejo has been assigned FISH.


Covering cocktails at ModMex is Jordan Johnston, Frontera’s chief mixologist, who will demo–and serve–three cocktails. Among them is the drink pictured above, the Levanta Muertos No. 2. This Mexican take on the Corpse Reviver is made up of Wahaka Espadin Joven mezcal, Cocchi Americano, Cointreau, lime, a rinse of Pernod and a slice of cucumber for garnish.

modFUSION :: Carlos Gaytan

In 2008, Gaytan drew on both his Mexican heritage and his years working with French chefs to open Mexique, a French-Mexican mashup in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood. His food–corn tamals with seafood mousse; cochinita rillettes–has earned Mexique a Michelin star and landed Gaytan a spot on Season 11 of Top Chef.

For his ModMex demo, Gaytan has been assigned MEAT.

modCHI :: Rick Bayless

Bayless is the chef and proprieter of three flagship restaurants in Chicago (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO) as well as Tortas Frontera, which has several locations in O'Hare Airport, and Frontera Fresco, which has locations in Chicago, Evanston and San Francisco. Bayless has written eight cookbooks and produced nine seasons of Mexico: One Plate At A Time. He is the founder of ModMex.

For his ModMex demo, Bayless has been assigned VEGETABLES.