Chef Ricky’s creation “Chicano in the South.”

A Georgia native with an eclectic Mexican upbringing and having been immersed in the culture through family owned kitchens, Chef Ricky Saucedo found an attachment to the food industry at a young age, always favoring desserts.

Despite the family tradition, Saucedo pursued a career in music, landing him at The Juilliard School studying clarinet. During his other pursuits, the kitchen called for his attention, and in 2019 Saucedo decided to dive into the world of pastry.

After a year of burying his head in books and flour, he was finally connected with world renowned Pastry Chef Joshua John Russell, who quickly became an inspiration and mentor. Shortly after, Zúcar Patisserie was born and he hasn’t looked back since, rising to claim many accolades, including Executive Pastry Chef at Cafe Vendôme. You can see Saucedo’s creations at Highland Bakery, pastry shops, and other events throughout the city. 

One of Saucedo’s favorite dishes is nicknamed “Chicano in the South,” which combines the flavors of peach, basil, cajeta, and pecans. Being a first-generation Mexican American raised in Georgia, the idea of “Chicano in the South” seemed natural. The idea for the dish quickly manifested from Saucedo’s natural inclination to create a personal representation of traditional Mexican flavors. 

Cajeta is a Mexican caramel made from goat’s milk. Its origins can be traced back to the city of Celaya, which sits on the bank of the winding Laja River in Mexico. It is no wonder this decadent dessert brings Saucedo back to his childhood summers when he would walk the riverbanks of the Tepehuanes River, or “el rio,” eating spoonfuls of cajeta.

“Chicano in the South” evokes feelings of family and comfort with the creaminess of the cajeta and the nutty texture of the streusel. To bring this traditional dessert in line with modern palates, he wanted to add more body, a touch of extra salt and the addition of his beloved Mexican spice – cinnamon. Saucedo creates magic by combining Georgia pecans with cinnamon streusel and a hefty drizzling of cajeta. He then adds fresh, Georgia peaches, basil, and a hint of mango.

Although the dish originally builds from Mexican ingredients, Saucedo notes that the melding of these ingredients with non-traditional flavors illustrates the metaphor of American culture as a melting pot. Additionally, he ties in his favorite dessert style, French pastry, by layering the dessert as an entremet and supporting the entire dish with a light Creme Mousseline and a vanilla financier sponge.

Saucedo dedicates this dish to his mother, grandmother, and aunt, who were always in the kitchen baking empanadas, conchas, jamoncillos and everything under the Mexican sun. They constantly inspire his culinary journey through their spirit. Every time he steps into the kitchen, he can feel them guiding his heart and hands.

Punk Foodie offers this weekly column about Punk Food, a moniker for a cuisine without defining or distinctive ingredients, techniques and dishes and it is born out of the increasing infusion of the diverse cultures and experiences that live in our city. Go deeper via Punk Foodie’s weekly guides and pop-up calendar

Although currently working in public health, Madalyn Nones has a passion for baking, farmers' markets, and grassroots food businesses.