The daughter of a Korean mother and Mexican father, Angela Hernandez grew up in a household where blending foods from very different cultures was the norm. It’s also the norm at Dallas’ Top Knot, where Hernandez is chef de cuisine. There, she blends Asian and Latin flavors and presents balanced and creative dishes.
We talked with Hernandez about how her upbringing influences the flavors she serves to customers today and what she loves about creating new dishes.
The Latin Kitchen: How did growing up with a Korean mother and a Mexican father influence your approach to cooking?
Angela Hernandez: Indirectly, I think. Now that I’m older I realize what a strong influence it was, but growing up, I never thought of it to be a focus or such an influence for me. In my family, eating was just always part of our culture and we always ate well. It was nothing out of the ordinary to have Mexican and Korean food on the table at the same time, to eat spaghetti with kimchi. It was just life.
TLK: Top Knot combines flavors of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Japan. Any reason they go together particularly well?
AH: Working with the group of people that I do, it just kind of progressed naturally. It’s funny because some of the items on the menu that are more speaking directly to my roots as Korean and Mexican are actually dishes that didn’t come directly from me, but that came from my sous chefs and cooks, cooking things that they like to eat and that inspire them.
There’s a pork belly and kimchi rice bowl on the menu right now that wasn’t even created by me. And we have kimchi and Korean fried chicken on the menu, and the amazing thing to me is that my cooks are the ones that gravitate toward that as well.