Distinctive Features of Southwest Cooking
Known for its spicy heat, Southwest cooking borrows from a number of culinary traditions. The American Southwest has been home to a diverse group of people for hundreds of years, resulting in a unique cuisine that fuses Mexican, Spanish, Native American and American foods.
While the Mexican and Native American influences on Southwestern cuisine can be seen in the simple ingredients that give food color and liveliness, cowboy culture influenced Southwest cooking by introducing more meat dishes using higher quality cuts than are commonly found in Native American or Mexican cuisine. Carrying on this tradition, grilling is an important part of modern Southwest cooking.
Famous Chef: Bobby Flay
After discovering his talent at the age of 17 while working at New York's Joe Allen restaurant, Bobby Flay trained at the French Culinary Institute. Intrigued by the idea of foods indigenous to America, Southwest cuisine was a good fit for Flay's interests. In 1991, Bobby Flay opened his first restaurant, Mesa Grill, in New York.
In the following years, Flay continued to make a name for himself. He now owns six restaurants and has authored several cookbooks. He also appears in multiple shows on the Food Network and contributes regularly to "The Early Show" on CBS.
What would Southwest cooking be without chilies—both red and green? Rice, corn, beans, tomatoes peppers and avocados are also common ingredients in Southwestern fare. Various meats such as beef, pork and chicken are also prominent.