I like tiki cocktails, getting the munchies and searching out ethnic food, usually in Queens (as long as it's gluten free). I'm covered from head to toe in tattoos and have traveled the world to get them. Oaxaca is my home away from home. I've been working and living there part time for the past decade, which led me to found El Buho Mezcal, opening Claro and participating in CuriosityStream’s The History of Food documentary. At Claro, masa is king - my partner in El Buho and I import the corn for the restaurant directly from Oaxaca and have started growing some on our land there as well. I'm here to answer all your masa questions and discuss my experience with The History of Food on CuriosityStream.

To see me on TV in The History of Food, go to Curiositystream.com. Itching for a taste of Oaxaca? Come visit us at Claro for a mole and mezcal www.clarobk.com or follow us @clarobk

Proof: https://i.redd.it/tqerr9n3y3121.jpg

Thanks to everyone who wrote in, hope to see at Claro one day soon!

Comments: 65 • Responses: 17  • Date: 

wangdingus15 karma

Elote: On or off the cob?

steeletj17 karma

i like esquites, off the cob

Chtorrr4 karma

What is the very best cheese?

steeletj7 karma

Cheese is too big of a category to pick "the best", but i tend to like the stronger, funkier stuff.

sqwzmahmeatybts3 karma

Is there a WRONG way to Mole? Do you use sesame seeds? What about peanut butter?

I've had chicken mole so many times, but it seems like there are a MILLION ways to make it, and only a few ways taste good to me. But the ones I like, I LOVE, if that makes sense.

steeletj5 karma

I think you want to make sure that no one ingredient overpowers the others and that there's a harmony - so they're all working together like a chorus, no soloists in mole. I do use sesame seeds in my negro and rojo, no peanut butter for me, but it makes sense,

[deleted]3 karma

Hey TJ! What's your favorite food to make at home?

steeletj1 karma

lately it's been takeout at home for me!

foolhardyass3 karma

What is your favourite potato variety and way to cook em?

steeletj3 karma

it depends what I'm doing, but I like starchy potatoes over waxy ones. I like the way they absorb fat and flavors and the way they fry up.

Anthemoney3 karma

As the world becomes smaller and more connected, food seems to always be evolving. What do you think about the word "authentic" as it applies to food?

steeletj5 karma

Even when things evolve and change, they can still be authentic. I think it's very important to understand where our food comes from and the history and once we do, we can draw outside the lines with it.

ecich2 karma

You mentioned in History of Food that you make your own cheese in-house (how cool!) What’s your favorite cheese to make? To cook with? And to eat?

steeletj3 karma

At the restaurant we make queso fresco, quesillo and crema - i really do like them all equally.

raspencer992 karma

I need some good mezcal recommendations outside of Casamigos. What are your favorites?

steeletj3 karma

El Buho!!

Muficita1 karma

Do you make your own masa fresca? And if so how? Do you think the taste and quality is much better than maseca/masa harina? I live in a place where only maseca is available and I often wonder how much my cooking suffers because of it.

steeletj10 karma

We make our own fresh masa every day, but we have the benefit of having a stone mill which is really key to making good masa - i wouldn't suggest making it at home unless you have a hand crank and even then, just for tamales. You could always try to see if anywhere around you has a stone mill. The taste and quality compared to maseca/masa harina is night and day.

thekillercook1 karma

Do you prefer Dent, Flint or Sweet?

steeletj3 karma

Dent for cooking and making masa for sure. Sweet corn is super seasonal for me - I'll eat a bunch of it at its peak in summer and then I'm good until the next season.

centurylight1 karma

What's your favorite tattoo/ingredient?

steeletj1 karma

i like my hand tattoos the best and masa of course! such a versatile ingredient :-)

Brendan_jt1 karma

In The History of Food, it looks like you do a lot of cooking over an open wood fire. What do you feel are the benefits of this?

steeletj4 karma

I think it's more fun and you have to pay more attention because of the open fire so it makes you more interactive with your food

erinwronka2201 karma

What do you love about Mexican cuisine or oaxacan food?

steeletj7 karma

i think it's really honest and soulful, you can almost feel the history in it. Even things that seem really simple have a lot of depth to them. I also really enjoy the different flavors and heat levels the different chilis bring, plus I'm a big fan of acid and like how they use lime to brighten a dish. It's also inherently gluten free for the most part, and as someone who can't eat gluten I appreciate being able to enjoy the real deal.


I have tried making my own tortillas but they kept sticking to one side of the press. I couldn't peel them off without damaging them. Any tips?

Is there any video or advice you have for making tortillas and/or tamales?

steeletj2 karma

use plastic on both sides of your press, you should be good!

raspencer990 karma

What's your favorite holiday dish?

steeletj1 karma

champagne and caviar for Christmas and NYE - they're so celebratory and it's fun to make accompaniments to go along with

mhamms6879-2 karma

What was your favorite part about filming a documentary?

steeletj3 karma

Going to the molino before the sun came up with all the local food vendors was something I hadn't done before and I really enjoyed it, I'm not usually a pre-sunrise kind of guy!

Lizziewdc-4 karma

Is it true that you have food-related tattoos? What's the backstory on them?

steeletj-1 karma

I like food and i like tattoos so it just made sense! I have one leg that's pretty much dedicated to fun food tattoos :-)