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Meet Bernie Molina of Herencia Cookbook in South East Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bernie Molina.

Bernie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am half Mexican-American, half Salvadorian-American and 100% Latina. I was born and raised in South East Los Angeles. This unique SalviMex Los Angeles identity molded me into the woman I am today. I would say my identity is one of my most cherished assets. I honor these roots in my book,  Herencia Cookbook. In this book, I share Salvadorian, Mexican and American recipes. Each recipe is preluded by an anecdote about the family member who taught me to make that particular recipe.

I am also a second-generation food entrepreneur. When I was in elementary school, my mom owned a Mexican bakery. Almost every day was “take your daughter to work day.” I grew up seeing my mother manage her marriage, raise five children, maintain a social life, and run a business, all while wearing Estee Lauder perfume and lipstick. Seeing my mother balance all this definitely inspired and motivated me to write my own cookbook. This book would not exist if it were not for her example. (Fun Fact: my mama helped a friend launch a business while she was pregnant with me! Today, I am launching this book during my own pregnancy.)

However, my mother did not go to pastry school or business school. She had a desire to break into the food industry and did so, unapologetically and without waiting for anyone’s permission to do so. She learned by apprenticing because she knew apprenticing meant she could learn while earning money.

Similarly, I am not a formally trained chef myself. I learned how to cook from the matriarchs in my life. I watched my great grandmother (who I had the pleasure of knowing for the first ten years of my life) and my grandmother. I learned hands-on from my mother and mother-in-law. These women are also not professional chefs, yet they are among the most talented home cooks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. How many Latinxs love the way our mamas or grandmamas cook? A large intention of Herencia Cookbook is to give Latina matriarchs and home cooks the respect and admiration they deserve.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This journey started when I first started learning to cook. It was important for me to learn the recipes of the matriarchs in my life. This journey caused the idea of Herencia Cookbook to bloom in my heart.

Before any writing started, however, I had to lift a lot of mental blocks. There was this paralyzing fear that was blocking me. For instance,I constantly asked myself: who am I to write about the foods in my culture? Then I was like wait…the women in my life are amazing home cooks and they are not professional chefs. Yet, I learned everything I know from them. The señoras in my life have cooked some of the most delicious foods I have ever tasted! (Also- how many chefs go to Oaxaca and learn about Mexican food… from gifted home cooks who are experienced señoras?!)

Once I worked through my own personal blockages, I realized that I have every right to create this business as an homage and sign of gratitude to my culture, identity, and family legacy. I also realized how silly it was for me to feel that I could be an imposter to my own experience.

Once I worked through this and lifted these mental blocks, I got to work! And there was no stopping me from there. I realized I did not need anyone’s permission to move forward and write this.

Another more light-hearted difficulty in writing the recipes for the book was figuring out exact measurements. Most of us know señoras don’t measure anything when they cook! It was a lot of work to figure it out, but so worth it!

Please tell us about Herencia Cookbook.
Herencia Cookbook is at times nostalgic and humorous, with a dash of LA lingo– all while honoring our Latinx ancestors and culture through food. Though it is light-hearted, its intention is, always, to elevate Latinx culture and matriarchs.

My priority is to honor the matriarchs of my life through food. I hope when others read about my experiences, they can fondly recall their own experiences with the matriarchs of their lives. 

Additionally, Herencia Cookbook offers modern hacks to authentic recipes. I love cooking, but with an on-the-go lifestyle, cooking can sometimes feel like a chore. Therefore, it was important to me to share tips to make cooking easier. For instance, using a blender instead of a molcajete, or using a food processor instead of chopping things by hand. In this way, the intimidation can be taken out of cooking and we can focus on the fun parts instead! I hope these hacks make people feel excited to cook, even on weekdays.

Herencia Cookbook also shares some healthy-ish suggestions, without ever compromising flavor. For example, I tend to have smoothies for breakfast on the weekdays and save the chilaquiles for the weekends. Or, I will enjoy enchiladas with a side salad instead of rice and beans. I make sure I still enjoy the flavors of my culture and roots, while making sure it aligns with my goals for a nutrious lifestyle.  I hope others can find value in these suggestions as well. 

Finally, what sets Herencia Cookbook apart from others is its unique SalviMex, Los Angeles-based identity.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Letting go of fear. Embracing ambition. Unapologetically going for it, without waiting for anyone’s permission. Realizing what is lacking in the industry, and providing it, and figuring it out along the way.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Herencia Cookbook
    8504 Firestone Blvd #463
    Downey CA 90241
  • Website: herenciacookbook.com
  • Email: herenciacookbook@gmail.com
  • Instagram: herencia_cookbook


Image Credit:

Ezekiel Barerra, Eric Gomez

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