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Baker Miller Adds Second 'Mi Casa' Pop-up: What's Cooking?

By Patty Wetli | August 16, 2017 9:24am
 Yolanda Escoto-Unna talks about what her family's cooking up for Baker Miller's Mi Casa pop-up dinners.
Yolanda Escoto-Unna talks about what her family's cooking up for Baker Miller's Mi Casa pop-up dinners.
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Baker Miller is known for its pies, grain bowls and Instagram-able avocado toast.

So what prompted the bakery to announce a pair of "Mi Casa" pop-up dinners focused on traditional Mexican cuisine?

An impending visit from employee Yolanda "Yoli" Escoto-Unna's mom did it.

Escoto-Unna's parents, Cristina Unna and Roberto Escoto, run a Mexico City catering company, Amodotradicional, which translates into English as "the traditional way."

"That is how they approach their food, by researching recipes and trying to keep traditions alive," Escoto-Unna told DNAinfo via email.

The seed for an Amodotradicional pop-up at Baker Miller was planted during a conversation between Escoto-Unna and the bakery's co-owner Dave Miller. 

"We were talking about my mom coming to visit and all the great food they make, and he suggested it would be a good idea to have some sort of event. And a month later… here we are," Escoto-Unna said.

While there is plenty of Mexican food to be had in Chicago, from hole-in-the-wall tacquerias to Rick Bayless' James Beard Award-winning Topolobampo, Escoto-Unna said nothing is quite like home.

"I think we are still missing all the great stews that vary from state to state and from household to household," she said.

"Many times when I crave Mexican food, I end up making it myself. Every time I go to Mexico I make sure to bring moles and salsas so I can enjoy them when I’m back in Chicago," said Escoto-Unna.

Traditional ingredients can be difficult to source in the U.S., and even when they're available, they can be intimidating to cooks who aren't familiar with using them, she said. 

"I think sometimes it's difficult to try new ingredients if you don’t know how to cook them. But I also think that the world is changing and people are opening their mind to new ingredients and cooking methods," Escoto-Unna said.

Though Mexican food is often thought of as heavy, Escoto-Unna said that for the pop-up her family will be presenting light dishes perfect for a hot Chicago night, with flavor combinations people haven't tried before.

"Of course the star of the night is the Chile en Nogada, that has more than 25 ingredients and a very long history," she said.

"The main idea, and what Amodotradicional has always tried to do, is to make people feel welcome and enjoy a relaxed meal, as if they were at our home (mi casa)," she said.

Diners can taste for themselves at the Baker Miller pop-up dinners, scheduled for Thursday and Tuesday at 4610 N. Western Ave. The first date is sold out, which prompted the addition of a second dinner. The cost is $45 for the five-course BYOB meal (click here for tickets).