ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Traveling can be draining for Pati Jinich.
She’s on her way to northern Mexico and there are no direct flights.
“I have to take three flights just to get there,” she says during an interview. “But it’s all worth it in the long run.”
Jinich is the host of “Pati’s Mexican Table,” which airs on PBS. The popular show has been nominated for an Emmy and is a two-time winner of the James Beard
Award. Jinich was invited to cook at the White House for President Obama’s Cinco de Mayo and Easter celebrations.
The eighth season will kick off with a marathon to be aired beginning Saturday, Sept. 28, and running through Sunday, Sept. 29. The first three episodes of season 8 will be part of the marathon.
The new season will transport viewers to a region of Mexico largely unseen by the outside world.
Stretching along northern Mexico’s west coast – from the majestic Sierra Madre mountain range to the small towns sprinkled along the beaches of the Pacific, and through fertile farmland between natural rivers and man-made dams – Jinich will crisscross the state of Sinaloa, considered Mexico’s bread basket.
She will learn why the people of Sinaloa are so proud of their regional cuisine, traditional sourcing and cooking techniques, and unique ingredients.
She will seek out spectacular seafood with local chefs along the beaches of
Mazatlán, harvest oysters and eat them right out of the water in Altata, search for traditional recipes preserved in the Sinaloan mountains, and learn about the region’s native produce from farmers in Culiacán. She’ll also stop in a couple of yet-to-be-discovered-by-outsiders “Pueblos Mágicos” – Mocorito to sample chilorio, a true specialty of Sinaloa; and El Fuerte to learn about its old mining past.
“Food is one of the most incredible vehicles,” she says. “It allows you to break into story. Everyone has a story that deals with food. I feel like food breaks down those walls. It allows you to connect in a different way.”
Jinich grew up in Mexico City, so she was around food. It was also something she was very passionate about.
“In Mexico, it’s a very food-centered culture,” she says. “Family holidays are full
of food. It’s a time to be connected.”
With the series, Jinich wanted to tell the stories behind where food comes from within a particular culture.
The show has primarily visited Mexico, though she is wanting to branch out into the United States. This season she makes a stop in Tucson.
“It’s been to open a window to Mexico and shine a light on what Mexico has to offer,” she says. “I want to show the audience that they can cook all of this great food in their own kitchen. Mexican food is so fun and you can dress it up.”
Jinich hopes to bring the show to New Mexico, where she says the cuisine has its own style.
“You can feel the Mexican influence,” she says of New Mexican food. “But it’s different. There’s something really special about the ingredients to it. I’d love to explore and tell the stories of New Mexicans.”