Scotch Parlor Story #25: Al Fuego “To The Fire” – Chef Anthony Salguero of Popoca
SCOTCH PARLOR STORY #25
"TO THE FIRE"
ANTHONY SALGUERO: CHEF & OWNER OF POPOCA- POPOCAOAKLAND.COM
You may think you know Salvadorian food, but this cuisine is so much more than just pupusas. Let me introduce you to Anthony Salguero, the Chef, and owner of Popoca in Oakland, California, who's sharing his culture through food. Anthony has always had a passion for cooking. It wasn't until he was a chef in a fine-dining kitchen that he became determined to build a restaurant concept he could call his own. Anthony was looking for an opportunity to share his love for Salvadorian dishes with the world.Anthony has visited El Salvador many times throughout his life, where he always found himself captivated and immersed in the variety of aromas and tastes from Salvadorian cuisine. During these moments of enjoying these wonderful assortments of flavor from pupusas to seafood, chicken, and pork to various soups, there was a burning desire to learn how to make all of these fantastic dishes. He felt the best way to share his Salvadorian culture and tasting experiences with the world is to cook for them. That's when the Popoca concept was born.Popoca is a Salvadorian restaurant concept where Anthony uses unique cooking techniques that pays homage to the old traditions of El Salvador. The word Popoca means "emit smoke," and it comes from an indigenous language in El Salvador called Nawat. Most of Popoca dishes are prepared over the woodfire grill using flat griddles called comals. This unique way of cooking creates distinctive Salvadorian tastes and flavors throughout his food.
Anthony's pupusas don't come from your typical Salvadorian restaurant masa. He makes his pupusas entirely from scratch. He brought back Molino (corn mill) from El Salvador to grind his cooked corn to make his masa. He shapes that soft masa and fills it up with cheese, braised pork, black beans, or various vegetables for the vegetarians. Once the pupusa is formed and flattened, he then places it on the grill, and the woodfire sizzles the pupusa just enough for the cheese to ooze out. In this video, Anthony talks about what he learned in Montana, the Popoca concept and its name origin, why he does what he does, and highlights a few dishes. I was lucky enough to try some of his menu items, and all I can say is, "Wow, his food is simply amazing." The variety of flavors was incredible, from the Pollo En Chica to the Plum Salad to the amazing Revuelta pupusas. Each dish had a depth of flavor that only Anthony and his woodfire can bring. Anthony is a man who works extremely hard and loves what he does. He says he is "happy to learn, share, and teach about his culture through food for the rest of his life." Popoca is precisely the concept that Anthony can say is his own. He is sharing his fantastic food with Oakland locals and beyond while giving honor to Salvadorian culture.When you're in Oakland, make sure you visit Popoca. You can find Chef Anthony and Popoca cooking away in a unique car gallery-beer garden venue called Classic Car West from Wednesday through Saturday between 5:30 pm to 9 pm.Enjoy and always love what you do.
"I’m trying to deliver the same message that I got from eating in El Salvador. That’s the goal for me, and I’m still learning, but I’m’ okay with that. I’m okay to just learn and translate for the rest of my life."
Quick Business Advice Inspiration from Chef Anthony:
SOME QUESTIONS I ASK:
- Who is Chef Anthony?
- What is Popoca?
- What does Popoca mean?
- Why do you do what you do?
- Waht's are your favorite dishes you cook at Popoca?
- Plus More
IN THIS STORY, YOU WILL LEARN:
- What Popoca means.
- His journey on becoming a Chef before opening up Popoca.
- About Pollo En Chica.
- Pupusas in El Salvador.
- Anthony's passsions.
- Plus More