Feature - La Choza

Feature – La Choza

La Choza is now something of a Brighton institution. We spoke to Annie and Aoife, founders and owners of the Mexican street food business to learn more about their food, ethos and recent partnership with food deliver service Deliveroo.

Tell our readers the La Choza story?

Aoife – We opened two and a half years ago and took over this amazing place on Gloucester Road. It was a dead spot until we took it over and I think people were a little worried about us taking on this particular venue. We worked on the recipes, concept, branding for a year before we opened, and since then it’s been pretty much a runaway success.

Annie – Aoife and I had finished up doing different things and the idea came at the right time and we managed to facilitate it.

Ao – Our main thing is authentic, Mexican street food: slow cooked meats, infusing a lot of flavours with a lot of zingy, fresh salsas, trying to steer away from the Tex-Mex style food. And use a real depth of flavour through spices rather than piling on the heat.

An – We definielty had a concept at the beginning and we started right in the depths of the recession. We wanted to change something, and we both really love food; we’ve both worked as chefs in the past, and we wanted to create something that was really authentic, really vibrant to represent Brighton – and not pricey so people could come in here, get something good to eat, get a drink and feeling like they could afford it.

Ao – Casual dining is what we’re about.

Casual dining with street food the main theme at La Choza.

Casual dining with street food the main theme at La Choza.

What is it about Mexican food that excites you?

An – It is just so regional. There is so much depth in the flavours and there are so many types of Mexican food; it’s almost on par with Indian isn’t it?

Ao – It is also a very unusual type of cooking. They use a lot of woody herbs like thyme and spices which is really unusual, and it’s just a really intriguing and complex cooking method. It is an ancient form of cooking from the Myans and then there are influences from the Spanish and other cultures who came and brought their own take on food. It is really incredibly fusion food; fusion as in there are a lot of different cultures fused together to make Mexican food!

How do you differciate between Tex-Mex and Mexican food at La Choza?

An – I think Tex-Mex is much more BBQ’ey and somewhat sweeter.

Ao – Tex-Mex uses a lot more sour cream and dairy. Mexican food isn’t full of dairy.

An – A burrito is used in the North of Mexico more but things like fajitas are an American take on Mexican food. Texas was part of Mexico for a very long time, much longer than its been part of the US so its understandable that there are crossover elements there.

Authentic Mexican Street Food at La Choza.

Authentic Mexican Street Food at La Choza.

What is La Choza’s signature dish? 

Ao – Our best selling dish is our pulled pork burrito…

An – …but our signature would be the beef. The beef took the longest to perfect.

Ao – We learnt about pulled pork from BBQ Shack. John Hargate taught us how to smoke pork but our beef is a really complex food.

An – It is really hard to pick just one. But the beef and the chorizo we have really developed and made our own.

You’re both passionate about Mexican cooking. What are your favourite foods that you’ve brought back from Mexico?

An – Pork mole.

Ao – Suckling pig.

You recently expanded into running a successful kitchen at Hare & Hounds. Do you plan to run more pub kitchens?

An – We are concentrating on some other things at the moment. We don’t ever say no to anything and we’ll just have to see what happens in the future.

La Choza use fresh ingredients to create popular Mexican dishes.

La Choza use fresh ingredients to create popular Mexican dishes.

How was working with Deliveroo helped your business?

Ao – Deliveroo have helped our business by appealing to what the customers wanted; a delivery of our food.

An – And I think that we chose Deliveroo because it has a very limited delivery area away from the restaurant and it does mean, in theory, that our food is arriving as it should do. Deliveroo have also allowed us to target lunchtimes better and provide a food delivery service for offices, group meetings and so forth.

Why did you decide to work with Deliveroo?<

Ao – Their system impressed us, their actual delivery system. We have used it as customers and we have used it as clients.

An – I actually ordered from them the first day they were in Brighton, just to try the service – we both did in fact. It’s a really great service.

What’s next for the La Choza team?

Ao – You’ll have to watch this space!

An – The thing you’re going to see a lot more of this year is our trailer. We have got a 28ft air-stream trailer that we started using at Glastonbury. Last year we did a couple of other things and this year we have got things lined up, and it is there for events, for people to rent with or without food.