The story of La Tortilleria has two characters: Gerardo Lopez, a proud Mexican from Estado de Mexico, and Diana Hull, an avid traveller and anthropologist with a passion for Mexican culture and Australian multiculturalism.
After permanently making the move to Melbourne in 2009, both Diana and Gerardo longed for the heavenly goodness of Mexican street food, and so La Tortilleria was born.
Authentic Mexican Tortillas made the authentic way, La Tortilleria's mission is to give Melbournians the authentic Mexican food they deserve.
Who are the team behind La Tortilleria and what made you launch?
La Tortilleria was founded in 2013 by Gerardo, a proud Mexican originally from Mexico City, and Diana, an enthusiast of Mexican food and culture. We were both missing the amazing taste of authentic Mexican food and were keen to create that same taste here in Australia. We knew authentic corn tortillas were made from scratch using wholegrain corn that has been cooked, soaked overnight and freshly stoneground, but unfortunately the only tortillas we could find in Australia at the time were either imported frozen or made from imported ‘instant’ tortilla flour. So we decided to recreate the traditional tortilla making process locally, doing it exactly the same way they do in the villages of Mexico, using all Australian-grown corn and zero preservatives. And La Tortilleria was born!
What does a day in the life of the La Tortilleria team look like?
It takes over 24 hours to make a tortilla the traditional way. We start by cooking the corn the day before, and leaving it to soak overnight in limewater which transforms the nutritional makeup of the corn and releases the nutrients – this is called ‘nixtamalisation’. The next morning we start early by rinsing the corn, then stone grinding it in our traditional Mexican stonemill. The corn gets ground directly from whole kernels straight into a dough; there is no dry flour involved anywhere in the tortilla making process. The tortillas are then baked in our tortilla ovens, then some are hand fried into tortilla chips while the rest are hand stacked and hand packed and sent off to retailers and Mexican restaurants across Australia.
Why is it so important to you to use locally sourced products?
We’re strong believers in local food systems, rather than relying on products that have spent 2 months on a boat across the oceans. Creating a tortilla made entirely out of Australian ingredients yet still tasting exactly like it does in Mexico was the main motivation for us starting La Tortilleria. This way we have transparency over where our raw ingredients come from and can be 100% certain they are non-GMO, we can support Australian farming families, and we can also keep our food miles and ecological footprint to a minimum.
What do you miss most about Mexico and do you have any travel tips for our customers that may be planning a trip to Mexico?
The colours, the aromas and the smiles. Mexico has hundreds of different regional cuisines and you can find yourself immersed in a totally different culinary experience every town you visit. We Mexicans know that the best food is served on the streets and in the markets; the trick is to find the good ones that offer food that is both delicious and safe to eat. The best way to find these hidden gems is to ask the locals what's their favourite stall, you can't go wrong.
What is your favourite recipe using La Tortilleria?
We love a good quick Mexican breakfast. Put some refried beans in between two tortillas and heat on a frying pan. Grill some tomato, onion, garlic and chili in a frying pan then wiz in the blender with some salt. Fry an egg; place it on top of the bean tortilla sandwich and pour the salsa over the top, and serve with avocado. Easy and delicious!
We’ve just released our new recipe booklet (in store at Leaf now!) and we’ll have a huge range of new recipes on our website by late August.
When you’re not busy with La Tortilleria, what do you like to do in Melbourne?
We love checking out the new creations coming from the kitchens of our wholesale customers. Melbourne has some great Mexican restaurants. Some of the places we go to regularly are Mamasita, Fonda, Pacos Tacos, Mesa Verde just to name a few. We also love being part of the Farmers’ Market scene and buying products from our fellow storeholders and cooking up a taco feast!
If you were stranded on an island and could only bring three things, what would they be?
Tortillas, an avocado tree, and a bottle of tequila.