Emmanuel Galvan, the Mexican American chef and founder of Berkeley’s Bolita Masa, doesn’t know how to define home. It’s an elusive concept for the San Francisco resident who grew up in Napa Valley raised by Mexican immigrants.
“As the son of Jalisco, I don’t feel like I’m from there. I don’t feel Mexican enough,” Galvan says. “But I also don’t feel white enough to fit into [the United States]. As Mexican Americans, we’re battling that tension. [Food] is a way to address that.”
Luckily for the tortilla-loving gastronome, his recipes are a way to explore his origin: What is it? What does it taste like? And who gets invited to the table to experience it?
On Nov. 18, Galvan will explore the various textures and ingredients of being Mexican American by hosting “Ofrendas: Neither Here Nor There.” Co-organized with Jacob Croom of My Friend Fernando (a Chicano supper club that migrates around the East Bay), the event will showcase five chefs from around the U.S. and Mexico in a “multisensory hour” of small bites, drinks, cumbia music and art at the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Francisco’s Dogpatch.
In addition to Galvan and Croom, “Ofrendas” will feature Luna Vela of the James Beard Award-winning Nixta Taqueria in Austin; Maricela Vega, who cut her teeth as the executive chef at Atlanta’s 8ARM; and Tony Ortiz, who originally hails from Zacatecas and recently launched Chile Con Miel in New York City. The B-Side Brujas will also be in the house, spinning Spanish music vinyls.
The meal itself won’t be a sit-down dinner. In fact, there won’t be any seating at all. Instead, guests are encouraged to mingle and explore — and to check out the artwork being displayed in the museum itself.