Culinary Artist Liz Sanchez
Gallery: Culinary Artist Liz Sanchez [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
Culinary Artist Liz Sanchez
by Amy Guerra
Photos courtesy of Liz Sanchez & Kelley Campos McCoy
Liz Sanchez built her business on memories.
Memories of her uncle’s small carniceria, where regular customers were more like family; memories of her grandmother preparing tamales; and memories of the holidays, where food, family and friends intersect. In fact, it was her family and her familiarity with the hospitality industry that sparked her desire to open her own place.
“Everything we do at CASA de TAMALES comes from the heart,” said Sanchez, who opened the restaurant on Shaw Avenue between Marks and Brawley avenues in March 2010. “I drew my inspiration from my grandmother and her Old World traditions for making masa and tamales and applied New World perspectives to all my recipes, resulting in bolder flavors and healthier options.”
Sanchez offers an impressive variety of savory and sweet tamales, all made in-house from locally-grown non-GMO corn and stone ground by the restaurant’s own corn mill. Traditional chicken with mole and shredded beef tamales are featured alongside creamy chicken poblano and portobello and asparagus tamales. Standard sweet corn tamales are complemented by offerings of blueberry cream cheese, triple chocolate cake and carrot cake tamales.
The quality and innovation of CASA de TAMALES’ products have garnered the praise of customers and food industry professionals alike; not only does the business receive consistently high marks on social media sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, it garnered a prestigious Buyers Choice Award at the Fresno Food Expo in July.
CASA de TAMALES participates in several food truck events around the Central Valley and is preparing to open its second restaurant on Fulton Mall. It is also set to launch its first retail offerings over the next year, a move that will make Liz’s tamales readily available outside the region.
Sanchez has big aspirations for a business she’s successfully grown from what she calls her own “humble beginnings.”
“I'd like to see CASA de TAMALES restaurants in big cities like San Francisco and New York City, exactly the way we built our first store: with a window to the kitchen, so customers could see us making our masa completely from scratch,” Sanchez said. “I want to see my tamales in delis and store shelves throughout the country. I think we're almost there. We're ready.”
Sanchez was happy to share with Central California Life readers one of her most versatile and popular recipes: Roasted Corn Salsa.
“While I love corn salsa with all my dishes, if I had to choose a favorite pairing, it would be corn salsa with a green tomatillo chicken tamale,” she said, adding that the combination has been “a terrific hit” since the restaurant opened and has remained a favorite of many customers.
As for a dessert tamale, Sanchez said she can’t pick just one.
“With the holidays just around the corner, I do know that my pumpkin pie tamales are going to get a lot of attention,” she said. “We bring it back each October and offer it during the holidays. And, every year, it sells out, which is why I like to freeze a few extras.”
Sounds like a good time to head over to CASA de TAMALES.
CASA de TAMALES is located at 3747 W Shaw Ave. in Fresno and can be reached by phone at (559) 275-9300. For more information about the restaurant’s menu and mobile outdoor venues, go to casadetamales.com.
Roasted Corn Salsa
--Peel 8 ears of fresh corn on the cob. Clean off corn silk thoroughly. Depending on the size of the corn, this will yield about 4 cups.
--Begin grilling! Rotate the corn on the cob until roasted on all sides. Cool completely.
--Chuck corn off the cob, add to a mixing bowl with the following ingredients:
1 cup of diced red onion
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of chipotle pureed
1/4 cup of fresh lime juice