ByrdBonilla Claudia - Byrd Bonilla, Claudia

Claudia Byrd Bonilla

Biography

Claudia “Byrd” Bonilla has helped transform her family’s restaurant Mexico Lindo, founded by her parents in 1972, into a more modern Mexican comfort food establishment.

Claudia spent all her summer months in the Mexican countryside, vacationing and cooking with her grandmother and aunts. Her grandmother’s kitchen table was always the place to converge so it was only natural to jump in and help them out; whether it be plucking feathers from the chickens or searing the chile peppers for the daily salsas, she learned and retained what her relatives taught her.

She was initially trained... READ MORE

Claudia “Byrd” Bonilla has helped transform her family’s restaurant Mexico Lindo, founded by her parents in 1972, into a more modern Mexican comfort food establishment.

Claudia spent all her summer months in the Mexican countryside, vacationing and cooking with her grandmother and aunts. Her grandmother’s kitchen table was always the place to converge so it was only natural to jump in and help them out; whether it be plucking feathers from the chickens or searing the chile peppers for the daily salsas, she learned and retained what her relatives taught her.

She was initially trained to bartend. After a few short months, she knew she would never want to leave the restaurant business. As the years went by, Claudia’s interest went from tending bar to helping manage the front of the house. Once her knowledge and confidence grew, she threw her energy into revitalizing the family’s menus. Dealing with the food aspect only reinforced her passionate ideology that the kitchen is the heart of the restaurant.

Having never gone to culinary school, but not afraid to experiment and learn on the fly, she continues to play with different fresh local ingredients and take risks along the way. She is most proud of those simple traditional meals she shared with her family in Mexico and while on family trips.

Since then, her focus has been to prove that her version of traditional, old school Mexican comfort food, can still be modern and innovative through flavor, texture and presentation.
If you ask her what dishes she is most proud of – for the colder months, she would say the Mole Poblano, fashioned after the one her aunt makes for her, to this day. For the warmer months, she would say the handmade corn masa quesadilla with Satur Farms Long Island squash blossoms and Oaxaca cheese.

Family plays a large part in Claudia’s passion for food. It is her parents, Antonio and Leonor Bonilla, who exposed her to the amazing world of travel, restaurants and Mexico’s regional cuisines. The restaurant opened its doors in May 1972 and as fate would have it; Claudia was also born on that exact month & year.

The restaurant will celebrated its 46th Anniversary in May 2018 and looks forward to many more.

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What is your favorite NYC restaurant? And what is your go-to dish? RED FARM in the West Village. Their Beef Fried Rice & The Crispy Beef. What is your ultimate meal? The Rigatoni w Ragu and a side of cold Ricotta at Birrinchinos in Chelsea OR Chinese Food What three things are always in your pantry? Beer, Wine and Butter If you weren't a chef, what would you be? Floral Designer or an Artist in Oil Painting If you could cook with anyone, who would that be? FRANCIS MALLMANN !!!! What’s your favorite NYCWFF memory? Doing Tacos & Tequila with our kick ass Red Mole Rabbit Tacos.

Recipe name:
Handmade Corn Masa Quesadilla with Squash Blossoms
Recipe Ingredients:
Corn Masa Dough+Water (rolled into approximately size of raquet ball)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Squash Blossom Flowers
Approx 3ox Cubed Green Squash
Approx 1 oz cubed Onion
Oaxaca Cheese
Mexican Crema (sour cream)
Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Recipe Instructions:
Simplicity is key. This is my favorite dish which we prepare. While the tortilla is cooking in a well seasoned comal; heat the olive oil to give the squash & onion a quick saute. After approx 1.5 – 2mins; add the squash blossoms. Incorporate w a gentle saute and take off fire. tortilla cooks on first side approx 30 seconds. After turning over the tortilla; quickly add the oaxaca cheese place in broiler for cheese to melt. Then quickly add your saute mixture and carefully fold over into a half moon shape. Drizzle with crema & avocado-tomatillo salsa verde; finishing w/ micro cilantro. Simplicity on a plate.