Besides reading food magazines and blogs for information, I've been curious to get more foodie knowledge from those who actually focus their everyday on culinary arts. El Paso has had many exciting faces changing up the restaurant scene, and Chef Rulis (Raul Gonzalez) of Rulis' International Kitchen was very gracious to be my guinea pig. : )
Ruli's International Kitchen located in the UTEP/Kern area, offers an elevated take on some of your common dishes but ups the ante with several interesting tapas options as well. Chef Rulis and his kitchen are nominees in City Magazine's Best of The Best survey. They are contending in the Best Chef, Best Lunch Spot, Best Burger, and Best Dessert Spot categories. You can also check out Chef Rulis and his dishes for yourself at the upcoming Taste of El Paso (www.tasteofep.com), where he will feature his Pulled Pork Sliders. Be sure to check out my personal review and pics of some his items after the interview. Would love to see any comments and feedback on the questions featured!
CHEF PROFILE: Chef Raul (Rulis) Gonzalez , Executive Chef/Owner at Rulis' International Kitchen
Foodie Smash: What events or people inspired you to become a chef?
Chef Rulis: My dad has a thing for weird food so he got me to eat a lot of it at an early age. My mom is an experienced cook and she made us really good food during my formative years. From eating I developed a palate and from there I started to cook. I was 15.
FS:What item are you most proud of on your menu? Why is it significant?
CR: Picking a favorite dish is like picking who your favorite child! But if I had to pick one it would be the shrimp tacos. Not only are they delicious but I came up with those while living in Houston. I served those at several parties and they where always a hit! Seeing people smile after they take a bite is one of the most rewarding things for me!
FS: You feature various types of cuisine on your menu, if you could pick one variety of food as your favorite what would it be?
CR: That question has always been hard to answer. I really love a lot of food! I went to a fusion style precisely because it was hard to pin down just one particular style over another. What I can pin down is spice! I love Mexican, Asian, and Indian foods because of their spice!
FS:What culinary trends do you see going on right now that excite you?
CR: The trend around the country is "farm to table". It hasn't really hit El Paso because all the local farmers stopped farming a long time ago. The good news is that a new generation of farmers is willing to start up again to supply local restaurants. I'm in contact with some of these farmers and soon will be sourcing a greater set of produce from around the area! The trend should catch on quickly and that will improve our local economy and that is good for everybody!
FS: If you had to choose one piece of advice or tip to teach at-home cooks, what would it be?
CR: Play with your food
FS: In your opinion, what is one of the most difficult aspects of the restaurant industry?
FS:What direction do you see the El Paso Culinary scene heading and why do you see it going that direction?
CR: More local chefs putting on their twist on our food. I also see the
market's palate evolving to accept more varied and interesting foods!
FS: What mantra (or words) do you cook by? ie. "if you know how to eat, you know how to cook?"
CR: Don't trust a skinny chef! Hahaha!
FOODIE SMASH REVIEW:
When you walk into Rulis' International Kitchen, you will see a variety of people enjoying the cozy atmosphere of the quaint, yet modern dining area. A group of hipster looking intellectuals enjoying craft beer, a small table for two on a first date, or a party of the older out of work crowd blowing off steam over a few bottles of Merlot can be found here.
This isn't your ordinary diner food. At Rulis', you will find a modern twist to the classics we all know and love, nachos, burgers, and tacos. They also provide a variety of unique tapas. Josh and I started with an appetizer of the Edamame Hummus. The hummus had a nice consistency and the pita points were perfectly grilled.
One of my favorite items I found on the tapas menu was the crab wonton nachos (they also had slightly different version with shrimp). A pile of crispy wontons are topped with gobs of crab and Rulis' signature mango avocado salsa, which you find featured in other dishes as well. They are light enough to eat the whole platter in minutes and not even realize it.
|Crab Wonton Nachos|
One item we were very delighted by were the Pulled Pork Sliders. These miniature sandwiches feature a savory toreado teryiaki sauce. That with the combination of the ccilantro aioli made it and instant favorite. A perfect Latin - Asian fusion. (Go Try them at the Taste of El Paso!) There are other various sliders and sandwiches that caught my eye for my next visit, which includes the Mexican sliders. These also use the cilantro aioli acaccompanied by beef, cheese, and and avocado.
|Pulled Pork Sliders|