Let’s dispense with the obvious: the food at Aguila y Sol is, by all measures, excellent -- a Four Forks review from Reforma. Several prestigious Star Diamond awards by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. Acknowledgement by the international luxury and travel press as one of the world’s best restaurants. And, not least of all, multitudes of satisfied customers, who continue to crowd the elegant Polanco dining room five years after its opening.
Martha Ortiz's eclectic approach to classical Mexican cuisine has earned her international acclaim.
For the restaurant’s owner and Executive Chef Martha Ortiz, however, the sense of taste is just the staging area for a ritual dedicated to the culture and history of Mexico.
The first thing you notice in Ortiz’s office, located in an understated building next door to the restaurant, are the books, stacked in shelves, piled on her desk. Slender with long dark hair, Ortiz, model glamorous in photos, is earthy and accessible in person. “I’d love to be a literature PhD,” she says, and there is more than a hint of the academy in her bearing and resume; Ortiz began her career studying the Sociology of Food and the History of Gastronomy.
In 2001, after years of writing about food—she has penned eight cookbooks on Mexican regional cuisine—and offering consulting, photography, PR and art direction to others’ culinary projects, she launched Aguila y Sol, with the mission of creating “a total experience of the senses” through Mexican gastronomy.
“Each plate is a little story,” Ortiz says, “a little film that you can eat.” It becomes clear that for Ortiz, food is a multidimensional thing, its qualities extending beyond taste, color and texture to encompass even characteristics such as gender.
“Think about tortillas—there’s a woman caressing and forming the tortilla with her hands,” she says. “Mexican cuisine is profoundly feminine. But strong, the way Mexican women are strong. What these women do, it’s really like magic…. [they] have to invoke the wind, the water, the fire, the earth….from nothing.
"Patricia [Quintana, chef of restaurant Izote] and I were the first to offer authentic Mexican cooking in an upscale setting. Now we’ve been joined by many others.”