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Chef Carlos Aparicio will open his restaurant El Chingon at 1524 S. 10th St., which is close to the Passyunk Crossing area. The restaurant will specialize in cemitas, which are sandwiches made in the style of the Puebla region of Mexico which is the chef’s birthplace. The sandwich differs from the torta sandwich in a few different ways, but most obviously, the cemita bread roll has sesame seeds and the torta roll does not. Chef Aparicio says that the restaurant will probably open in late May or early June.
When What Now Philadelphia spoke with Chef Aparicio via phone he said, “Mexican cuisine is more than just tacos. Anyone can make a taco.”
Chef Aparicio has honed his cooking skills in many different fine dining restaurants. After working as a dishwasher and delivery person, he started as a baker at Bay Ridge Bakery in Brooklyn, learned the craft as a pastry chef at Buddakan, and became head baker at Stephen Starr‘s Parc Restaurant where his baguettes were named Best Baguette of 2009 by Philadelphia Magazine.
He then joined Serafina Hospitality Group and learned Italian cuisine, namely homemade pasta and pizzas, and was named Executive Chef of Serafina Philadelphia. He then left to become Executive Chef at Zavino Wine Bar Pizzaria and worked on developing Tredici Enoteca, which was a restaurant that was opened so that customers waiting for a table at Zavino would be able to share small plates during the long wait.
Chef Aparicio wants El Chingon to be an expression of the complexity and importance of Mexican cuisine and a representation of his background and heritage in Mexico. He frequently takes trips to Mexico to regions like Oaxaca and Jalisco to explore the differences in the regional cuisines within Mexico itself. He doesn’t go to fine dining restaurants but instead explores the stands and small restaurants where Mexicans eat their daily meals.
El Chingon won’t have a liquor license, so it will be BYOB and the restaurant will concentrate on take-out and grab-and-go options. There will be dining areas inside and outside the restaurant as well.
The restaurant’s decor is very important to Aparicio and is also an expression of Mexican culture and the history of the city of Philadelphia. The mural outside the restaurant was painted by Mexican artist Cesar Viveros. Aparico wanted to incorporate rustic designs that used the century-old building’s features, like the wood panels he found beneath the walls, and support Mexican artists and use their designs as part of the restaurant’s decor and atmosphere.