Top Chef: Carlos Molina & Isabel Laguna

Isabel Laguna is originally from Guanajuato Mexico. She learned all of her cooking skills, like most Mexican chefs, from family traditions. Carlos Molina is originally from Rio Grande City , Texas. Similarly, he was trained by family traditions, but passion for food and work experience all joined to help him create new mixed recipes. Both chefs work side by side to bring traditional and new flavors to Hattiesburg. Through food, they both feel they create unity not only with customers, but in the community. Come check out a new fusion Southern Mexican inspired recipe every Taco Tuesday.

What’s one ingredient that you can't live without?

Carlos: Corn tortillas. Isabel: Garlic, which packs the most flavor.

What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking?

Carlos: Ranchero, Mariachi, similar to country music. Isabel: Bandas a rhythmic dance music that is native to Guanajuato. 

If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? 

Carlos: John F Kennedy & Martin Luther King. Isabel: My father who recently passed away.

What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine?

Carlos: Mexican, of course, but Japanese is a strong second. Isabel: Salvadorian

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a diner? 

Carlos: If I could make them a Mexican hamburger with the products on hand. Isabel: Crawfish, they scare me because they are alive.

What’s the best part about being a chef?

Carlos: When the food meets the expectations of the client.  Isabel: The passion of being able to satisfy the hunger of my clients and the benefit of creating a delicious meal.

What’s the most challenging part of being a chef?

Carlos: Have a menu that is true to what I love to cook, but flexible enough to have locals try something different. Isabel: Meeting clients’ expectations.

If not a chef in the Pine Belt, what city would you like to work in?

Carlos: Mexico City, Mexico. Isabel: Indiana.

What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” food?

Carlos: Mangonadas. It’s frozen mango ice cream with fresh mango and a sweet-and-sour Mexican sauce. Isabel: Chocolate Cake

Who is/was your food mentor?

Carlos: Chef Enrique Olvera. Isabel: My mother, who showed me how to be the cook I am today.

What’s your favorite food to cook?

Carlos: Enchiladas. Isabel: Pork in salsa verde.

Sweet or savory?

Both: Savory.

Mild or spicy? Carlos: Spicy. Isabel: Mild.

Wine or beer?

Carlos: Wine. Isabel: Tequila.

Salt or pepper?

Both: Salt

Red beans or gumbo? 

Both: Gumbo