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The Moreland jacket and the Delaney jogger. T-shirt and necklace.  

Friday Night with Pati Jinich Includes One Part Challah, Two Parts Tequila

The cookbook author and host of PBS’s "La Frontera" invites us over for an Inside Time pre-game.

By Sofia Rainaldi


As temperatures drop and holiday stress rises, we want to get back to the basics of what makes spending time inside so nice. So, in addition to hosting a series of virtual events called Inside Time, we reached out to several women in our community to find out how they spend their Friday nights. First up is Pati Jinich, a James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author, and host of our inaugural Inside Time event.

Pati Jinich starts her Friday night on Friday morning. Pulling out a challah recipe given to her by her friend Nathan, she mixes the dough and sets it aside to rise. She’ll return to it later in the day, timing things perfectly so it comes out of the oven just as her husband and three sons sit down for dinner. “Making sure we’re here to bake [the challah] has given us a beautiful family tradition,” says Pati. “The fact that we’re baking bread and having a different kind of meal on Friday night really marks the moment when the weekend is starting.”

Like many of us, the James Beard Award-winning chef, host of PBS’s La Frontera, and author of several cookbooks, including the forthcoming Treasures of the Mexican Table: Classic Recipes, Local Secrets (available November 23rd), found her busy work week and weekends bleeding into each other over the last 20 months (a time, she says, that felt a bit like “like a river of Jell-O”). She started the challah tradition to create a delineation, as well as connect with her Mexican and Jewish roots from her new home in Washington, D.C., and she pairs the preparations with a lightly energetic playlist (she’s currently loving the dulcet Masredeus).

Paging through Treasures of the Mexican Table, it’s clear that Pati draws inspiration and enjoyment from learning and creating traditions. “Food is the most communal thing that connects us all as humans,” she says. “We don’t own any recipes; they’re here before we get to this Earth, and they remain after we’re gone. They’re these treasures that we inherit, that we pass on.” She sees the recording and writing of these recipes as something larger than one person, and she speaks passionately about the gratitude she has for being able to contribute to these cultural traditions.

The Tatum top and the Foster pant

With careful thought, research, and iteration, her recipes include not just ingredients and directions, but also the history and cultural context of each dish. She notes that the process of researching and writing Treasures of the Mexican Table has been humbling, even for someone who grew up in Mexico. “The more I learned about Mexican cuisine—the more I explored it, the more I traveled to different regions—the more I realized how little I know and how richly diverse and incredibly deep regional Mexican cuisines are.”

And what good is a recipe if you can’t share it with others? Pati finds joy sharing her cooking, but when it comes to hosting, she feels the need to manage expectations, especially after the success of her two cooking shows, Pati’s Mexican Table, and now, La Frontera. “[Guests] expect to experience an episode [of my show] when they come over for dinner. And it’s not that at all. It’s very casual with a lot of food. I love overfeeding people.” Her go-to dinner party recipes usually include one giant pot, served family style. 

Her resistance to fussiness is apparent in her wardrobe, as well. She prioritizes comfort, and when she’s cooking, she’s usually in jeans or stretchy sweatpants and a warm turtleneck in the colder months (with an apron folded in half and tied at her waist for efficiency and ease). On her feet, it’s either sneakers or socks. “I don’t do heels,” she says. “Only when I have to…you know, galas or something like that.”  

And though she appreciates decorations and aesthetic details when hosted by others, Pati’s table is instead defined by the joy of gathering together over food. “I’m not someone who will decorate with candles or put little name cards out or things like that,” she says. “I love it when people do that for me at their homes, but it’s not my top priority.” 

The Moreland jacket and the Delaney jogger. T-shirt and sneakers are Pati’s own. 

But one detail she makes sure to include is a little bit of very good tequila to go around. 

Her current favorite is Gran Centenario Leyenda Tequila.  “It tastes like you’re sipping caramel, and it’s such a treat,” says Pati. “I don’t serve it as shots. [Instead,] I’ll do it straight to sip or I’ll do it with ice on the rocks.” Along with the challah, this tradition is another thing Pati does to ring in the weekend. “We don’t drink tequila during the week—it’s for Friday night or Saturday night only.”

Want to spend a night in with Pati? On Thursday, November 11, Pati will join us for a virtual drink and recipe tasting to kick off our Inside Time event series. Attendees will get exclusive access to three of her favorite recipes ahead of time, so we can all enjoy them together at the event. RSVP now

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Sofia Rainaldi

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