Common Ground Series: Food Through Nahuatl Language
A Culinary Poetry Reading with Chef Irwin Sánchez from Tlaxcal Kitchen
Mon, September 12, 2022
In honor of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, join us at the James Beard House for a poetry reading and small bites with chef Irwin Sánchez from Tlaxcal Kitchen and Under the Volcano (2022 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef New York State).
An Indigenous poet, language scholar, and educator, chef Sánchez will read a selection of poems from his upcoming poetry collection in his native language of Nahuatl. A conversation will follow with Alyshia Gálvez, professor of Latin and Latino Studies at Lehman College, on the connection between the etymology of Indigenous languages and the culinary traditions of Mexican dishes. Small bites inspired by the poetry will be served along with wine, and guests will get exclusive early access to Sánchez’s book.
Guests arrive at 5:30 PM for bites and refreshments. The reading with conversation begins at 6:00 PM, and the event will conclude at 7:30 PM.
As James Beard said, food is our “common ground.” The Common Ground Event Series celebrates national holidays, heritage months, and community moments over the course of the calendar year. Series events bring in culinary talent to the iconic James Beard House for dinners, tastings, book talks, volunteer events, and more to create community around these celebratory months, and complement existing programs across the Foundation.
About Irwin Sánchez
Irwin Sánchez, originally of a Nahuatl speaking community from the city of Puebla, is a chef, poet, language scholar, educator, and organizer. Sánchez got his start in the industry as a participant of the Mamaroneck Community Resource Center’s ROC-NY (Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York) course under mentor Janine Zaidman Goldentaier (Founder & CEO of Cook & Bake Center). Since then, he has taught courses in nutrition and food for the NYC Department of Health, and hybrid language and cooking classes for the Endangered Language Alliance, among other organizations.
While New York City offers a wealth of cultural influences from around the world, Sanchez saw the lack of representation for indigenous culinary and cultural traditions pre-dating European conquest. From this concern and desire to share, Tlaxcal Kitchen was born. Tlaxcal Kitchen was originally a pop-up restaurant sharing recipes and dishes important to Sanchez, but soon grew to become a celebration of indigenous culture in ways that are often discriminated against even in Mexico, exploring the connection between food and poetry through etymological origins in Nahuatl language.
His work led him to a position at midtown’s now-closed Under the Volcano, overseeing a creative menu in an all-electric kitchen. In 2021, the New York Times’ Pete Wells gave a rave review of the restaurant’s literary-minded chef, and in 2022, Sanchez was a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef New York State. Up next for Sanchez is a feature in Netflix’s third season of Taco Chronicles, a cookbook project, as well as a poetry collection. He recently joined the team at La Cumbanchita in Bushwick.
About Alyshia Gálvez
Alyshia Gálvez is a cultural and medical anthropologist. She is professor and acting chair of Latin American and Latino Studies at Lehman College and of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Most of her work is at the intersection of food, migration, health and citizenship. She is currently conducting new research on epistemologies of food, health, and nutrition, as well as, in a separate project, the colonial assumptions underlying higher education pedagogies, technologies and bureaucracies.
Gálvez is the author of Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies and the Destruction of Mexico (UC Press, 2018) on changing food policies, systems and practices in Mexico and Mexican communities in the United States, including the ways they are impacted by trade and economic policy, and their public health implications. She is the author of two previous books: Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers Mexican Women, Public Prenatal Care and the Birth Weight Paradox and Guadalupe in New York: Devotion and the Struggle for Citizenship Rights among Mexican Immigrants.
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All tickets are non-refundable for this event.
James Beard Foundation events permit guests age 21 and older.
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