The Mexican ambassador, Arturo Sarukhan, hosted a reception for Pati Jinich last night to celebrate the debut of her cooking show, “Pati’s Mexican Table,” this Saturday on WETA-TV. The affair at the Mexican Cultural Institute was a draw for a number of Mexican dignitaries, local food journalists and, of course, Jinich’s family. Her parents and two of her three sisters arrived from Mexico and other locales for the party, showing support for the youngest member of the family, the one who came to cooking last.
Jinich’s three older sisters have all had, in one way or another, their hands in the culinary world. Oldest sis Karen Drijanski has been, off and on, a caterer and cooking instructor and is scheduled to launch two different restaurants in Mexico City under the name Sereno Club Cafe. Another sister, Sharon Cassab, has written a vegetarian cookbook titled “Comida Sana.” And a third sister, Alisa Romano, is the most accomplished of all; she’s a trained chef and breadmaker who cooked at both French and Italian restaurants in Mexico City before moving to Miami and getting into the panini-and-pastry business with Alisa’s Painted Bistro.
If that’s not enough, Jinich’s father operated a fonda for years in Mexico City that specialized in “comida corrida,” or a multi-course mid-day meal, before opening an Argetinian restaurant about six months ago.
With all of these accomplishments in one family, I had to wonder how the siblings felt about Pati Jinich’s sudden success? After all, Jinich has been at this professional cooking game for only a few years.
“I just happy to see that she’s doing something with so much passion. You can see it,” says Romano from her home in Miami. “You can tell that it’s something that she really loves. I think that it goes very well with her personality, because she has a spark. She has a very good sense of humor...I think it could be a great success. We’re very proud of what she’s doing because she’s very tenacious.”
No jealousy at all that she has a national TV show?
“I’m proud of her,” Romano reiterates. “I’m so happy.”
The budding celebrity chef agrees that her siblings have been nothing but supportive, even if they were surprised at her mid-life career change from political analysis to cooking.
“My sisters, in the beginning, when I jumped into food were surprised because I’d studied so many years in another field,” Jinich e-mailed earlier today. “So I wouldn’t say there was jealousy at all. They’ve been very super supportive.”
Jinich notes that their initial surprise turned into, “What the heck is going on with our baby sister?,” which then morphed into, “She’s found her calling and [then] being wowed by my dedication, to being immensely proud.”
Her parents are another matter, Jinich says. They didn’t quite know what to expect when they showed up Wednesday night for the celebration at the Mexican Cultural Institute.
“My mom and dad were totally overwhelmed by last night’s reception — in a good way. My dad kept saying
‘Pati, we just haven’t realized it has come to this.’ ”