Chef Q & A, Q&A, Question and Answer, Chef, Dos Caminos, Ivy Stark, BR Guest, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Border Grill, Mexico, Mexican, American Sommelier Association, Soho, Midtown East, Gramercy, Meat Packing District, Where to eat Mexican, Recommendations, Recipe, Chilaquiles


Chef Ivy Stark describes herself as a punk rocker, but most of us know her as the energetic Executive Chef of the B.R. Guest’s group of Mexican restaurants, Dos Caminos.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and later from ICE. Her training is a mix of Latin American, Mexican, and European techniques, having worked at the Border Grill, Ciudad, The Sign of the Dove, Rosa Mexican0, Zocalo, and Amalia. She also worked as the Sommelier and Beverage Director at Brasserie 8 ½.

This month, chef Stark and the Dos Caminos team will open their newest venture in the Meat Packing District, occupying the former Vento Trattoria space.

Congratulations on Dos Caminos Hudson. What will the space and menu be like?

The new Dos Caminos is opening in a few weeks with a completely re-designed space and we will be rolling out some new menu items and cocktails.

How would you describe the food at Dos Caminos? Is it influenced by any particular region in Mexico?

We do food with a base of authentic Mexican cuisine, using fresh ingredients, contemporary technique, and modern influences. We try to utilize product that is fresh and seasonal here in New York, rather than serving something that may be very traditional and great in Mexico year round, but not at its best locally depending on the season. We have food that represents a wide variety of the great food regions of Mexico, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, the Yucatan are a few.

What are the biggest misconceptions Americans have about Mexican cuisine?

Unfortunately, there are many. Mexican cuisine in the U.S. is where Italian food was 30 years ago - checkered tablecloths, red sauce, and straw-bottle Chianti - not a true reflection of the culture or the cuisine. Many people assume that Mexican food is heavy and greasy, which is far from the truth. Most of the melted-cheese laden combo platter food is purely an American invention. Much of Mexico is coastline and the cuisines in those regions reflect that - fresh seafood and tropical fruit and vegetables. Central Mexico is where you see a lot of the corn-based preparations, such as tamales and moles. Wild mushrooms, swiss chard and watercress are common and simple salads are eaten with most meals. In addition, while there are some excellent authentic Mexican restaurants in California and Texas, these are the areas close to the border where much of the bad representation of the cuisine came from. We hear way too often that being from California makes one an expert on good Mexican food.

How difficult is it to source your speciality ingredients and what are some of the more unusual things you need for your recipes?

It has gotten much easier in the past few years to source authentic ingredients as more and more chefs and consumers become interested in cooking with them. The most difficult for us to get are some of the produce items that are not exported or are produced in only very small amounts -the chihuacle negro chile from Oaxaca is an example due to its very small harvest. As for unusual, we buy chapulines (crickets) imported directly from Oaxaca.

What purveyors currently inspire you?

Taza Chocolate in Massachusetts has been a great addition to our purveyor list. They grind Mexican chocolate with a lava stone molino, as is traditionally done in Mexico and their product is very high quality. I also like Satur Farms for their amazing wild arugula and sweet corn. I recently brought in a Mangalitsa pig from Mosefund Farm that was awesome.

What are the pluses of working within a large company like B.R. Guest and what are some of the drawbacks?

We have a large support system here to assist with purchasing, maintenance, public relations, not to mention the opportunity to have the feedback, creative energy and friendship of twelve other chefs always available. Drawbacks-can't really think of any. Maybe a few more forms to fill out than in an independent restaurant, but I really like the structure here.

You left Dos Caminos to work elsewhere and then returned, can you tell us about your path back?

I left to meet some career goals that weren't readily available to me here at the time, and achieved them. Dos Caminos was growing and I was offered the opportunity and I missed working with my best friend, Corporate Chef Scott Linquist. So it was an easy decision for me.

When and how did you develop your passion for cooking Latin cuisine?

I have always loved Mexican food. I grew up in Colorado and there is a large Latino population there. My parents were adventurous diners and we ate at this wonderful "hole in the wall" place almost weekly. It was my favorite restaurant. With Colorado being so close to Mexico, my family also traveled there often on school breaks. I ate my first jalapeno on a Mexicana flight to Puerto Vallarta when I was around five years old.

What are the least “chefy” and most “chefy” things you like to eat and why?

Least Chefy: I guess that would be candy. I love all kinds of unnaturally flavored things like Hot Tamales, Jujubes, and Valentine's Sweethearts. There are always piles of candy around here.

Most Chefy: I love sea urchin. Which some of my non-chef friends think is weird. And I will pay almost any amount of money to eat white truffles in season.

What is your least favorite new culinary trend and why?

I'm not crazy about molecular gastronomy, although there are people who are doing some interesting and delicious things with it, like Grant Achatz. Not unlike Mexican food, it has been really poorly executed too often.

Is there something you always keep in stock at your home that you would advise a home cook to stock?

Actually, chicken stock is great to have at home, so many uses from making a quick soup with fresh vegetables, for cooking rice or couscous, or braising meat. It adds an extra dimension to everything requiring liquid at very little cost.

Is there a cooking tool we’d be surprised to find out you use?

Maybe not surprising, but my avocado-green Mexican-style lime juicer is my favorite tool.

I also use an inexpensive wire cake tester constantly for checking that food going out to the dining room is hot.

Who else in your field is doing interesting things that you think should deserve more praise and why?

I think Jose Garces in Philadelphia is cooking great food and moving Latin food forward in a way that respects authenticity.

Where are the best places in the New York area to eat authentic Mexican food?

High End: I've had some excellent meals at Pampano.

Casual: La Esquina is fun and the food is good.

Bodega or Taco Shack: Tulcingo Restaurant and Bakery in Sunset Park, I dream about the tacos arabes.

Margarita: The tequila and mezcal cocktails at Mayahuel are fantastic.

Other Favorite Places:

For late night:

'inoteca on the Lower East Side for some late night wine, cheese and salumi.

Won’t break the bank, but has killer food:

Soba-ya. Amazing noodles - the steamed tofu with sea urchin sauce is definitely killer.

Off the beaten track places to eat, that you’d be excited to take an adventurous eater:

Sushi UO on Clinton Street is doing some really interesting things with sushi. But it's definitely for someone who wants to go beyond California rolls.

Top five restaurants (other than your own restaurants and regardless of price points):

Lupa, Pylos, Cafe Sabarsky, The Modern, Daniel.

Any places you’ve traveled to that you’ve had great meals:

So many, but Turkey stands out as some of the best food I've eaten anywhere, from very high-end restaurants in Istanbul to a small very out of the way country restaurant near Bodrum all of the food was delicious.



Recipe Courtesy of Ivy Stark

This is a classic weekend breakfast and brunch item which is commonly eaten after a long party night.  It works well with leftovers such as chicken, beef, grilled vegetables or is wonderful with bacon or chorizo added.  I personally like chilaquiles with fried eggs on top so this is how we serve it at the restaurant.


4 - 6 servings


Tortilla Chips (about 2 cups per person)

- 1 1/2 quarts roasted tomato chipotle salsa (recipe to follow)

- 8 ounces sour cream

- 1 pound Mexican cheese, I prefer Chihuahua or Queso Oaxaca, but Monterey Jack or - Cheddar will do perfectly well.

- 1 dozen eggs

For Garnish

- 1/4 cup minced red onion

- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

- 1/2 cup diced tomato

- 1/2 cup diced avocado

- 1/4 cup grated cotija cheese

For Roasted Tomato Chipotle Salsa

- 10 medium tomatoes

- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

- 6 cloves garlic, peeled

- 2-4 chipotles (canned)

- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

- Salt to taste


1) Place tomatoes, onion and garlic onto a sheet pan and into a 350 degree oven and roast until tender and lightly browned.

2) Place roasted ingredients, chiles, vinegar and salt into a blender and puree until smooth. 

3) Pour mixture into a medium sauce pan and simmer slowly for approximately 20 minutes and reserve.

For Chilaquiles (cook in batches for 2 people at a time)

1) In a large skillet add 2-3 hands full of chips and 6 ounces of roasted tomato sauce and toss gently until chips a covered with sauce. 

2) Add 4 tablespoons sour cream and 4 ounces of grated cheese and toss again gently. 

3) Place the skillet into a 350 degree oven and bake until lightly browned and crispy on the edges and soft in the center.

4) Remove from the oven and add more sauce if necessary and sprinkle the top with a bit more cheese. 

To Serve

Spoon out chilaquiles onto a plate and top with two sunny side up eggs (my preference but eggs can be cooked any style), sprinkle with garnishes of red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and cotija cheese. Serve hot with extra salsa on the side.


Mexican, Nuevo Latino


373 Park Ave South

New York, NY 10016 (view map)

T: 212.294.1000


475 West Broadway

New York, NY 10012 (view map)

T: 212.277.4300

Midtown East

825 3rd Avenue

New York, NY 10022 (view map)

T: 212.336.5400

Meatpacking District

675 Hudson Street

New York, NY 10014 (view map)

T: 212.699.2400



Ivy Stark’s recommendations on where to eat and drink in New York and Philadelphia.


Ivy Stark’s recommendations on where to eat and drink in New York and Philadelphia.