Name: Alan Delgado
Motivator: I want to make my parents proud. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to move to a country that’s not your own—taking the risk to give your family a better life than they had. When I think of all the effort and the unknowns they went through, my biggest motivator is for them to know that everything they gave up wasn’t for nothing.
NYC neighborhood: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Tu país: Mexico
Alan Delgado’s story is a tale of self-discovery through the food of his ancestors. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, a true border town, Delgado recollects, “The border is an unusual place because it’s basically an extension of Mexico. We’re all Latinos and the main language is Spanish. Americans don't count us as Americans, and Mexicans don’t count you as Mexicans.”
Delgado’s parents met in their native Mexico and migrated to El Paso, Texas, raising their families between Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and nearby El Paso. Once his mother fell ill, Delgado stepped into the kitchen to help manage her diet and recognized her love came from the three meals per day she prepared for him and his siblings. He fondly recalls how much of his upbringing centered around the kitchen. A reserved person, Delgado saw cooking as a way to communicate with others: “I could talk to people through that shared experience. And people were also communicating with me through their desire to eat my food.”
After his mother’s passing, Delgado found strength in the comfort of the ingredients from his childhood. He's determined to continue telling the novel story of border food, saying, “I want to make everything my own, you know, make each dish a little more modern and reflect on my story and my culture. Hopefully inspire other Latinos to never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because of where you’re from.” Dive deeper into Delgado’s story below.
What makes NYC home? The people. There’s a lot in this city that resembles the culture where I grew up. There's never a moment when I’m walking around New York that it doesn’t feel like home.
Favorite spot in NYC for inspiration: The buildings and the bridges. They show the willpower humans have. You can achieve something great if you surround yourself with the right people.
Describe Latino culture in NYC: Vibrant. We have that sense of community that keeps coming back where it’s like I said, we can always spot each other. Like a big family, whether it’s Mexican or Dominican, it doesn’t matter.
Favorite saying: My mom would always say, “Aqui estan los que deben de estar” (The ones that should be here are here). And when I look at my group of friends, they’re always super supportive. When you think about that and look around the room, you realize the people there make you feel special and loved. I’m not alone; I’m surrounded by a bunch of beautiful people that show up, and vice versa.
What’s next for you? I want to continue to cook the food that represents my people. If I want to connect with people, how I want to do it, it has to be my food; otherwise, my story gets lost. I’m going to take a deeper dive into what border food means. It’s the American influence, the Mexican influence and every other culture that passes through the border.