Maite Gomez-Rejón is a culinary historian, co-host of “Hungry for History,” and founder of ArtBites, which explores art and food through lectures and cooking classes in museums. Before joining the special experiential Zócalo program “Do We Need More Food Fights?”—presented in partnership with LA Cocina de Gloria Molina and California Humanities—she sat down in the green room to talk David Bowie, Lauryn Hill, and El Pollo Loco.
What is one essential kitchen tool you can’t live without?
A microplaner. It’s like a little zester—sometimes for lemon, or garlic. That’s my go-to-cannot-live-without.
What is one of your favorite places to go in all of L.A.?
The Huntington Library. The gardens are spectacular.
Who is your dream dinner guest—dead or alive?
I recently saw the David Bowie documentary, and he said something that resonated with me: “Life is fantastic. It never ends, it only changes.” I have it pinned up in my office. I was thinking about it in the context of Recetario para la memoria. So, right now, I’d invite David Bowie.
What would you serve them?
I make a really good margarita, so I’d serve him one of those. And then maybe some mole.
You just won tickets to Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour, and you can take one person with you. Who are you taking?
My husband. He just loves music and appreciates music.
What is one of the most memorable places you had an ArtBites session?
Early on I had a set-up of hot plates and toaster ovens and had blown fuses in every museum in Southern California. One of them was in Santa Ana—it’s this old historic building. I was friends with all the electricians and knew all of the lingo, and I told them we were going to blow a fuse. And they told me it’s fine, it’s fine. And, of course, we blew a fuse. We ended up getting El Pollo Loco. Everyone was very cool and understanding. It was not what I had planned.
What was the last great meal you had?
My nephew, my older brother’s son, is in town. He came over for dinner earlier this week, and my other brother (not his dad) who lives here came over. So we had a great dinner. I made a chicken milanesa with green beans. It was a home-cooked, simple meal. But it was really nice, and fun.
When was the last time you felt really loved?
Today. This morning. I feel loved.
What are you listening to these days?
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I used to listen to it all the time obsessively and I just started recently listening to it again.