Chef Río Becerra (They/Them), founder of the pop-up Gorditas ATL, is a first generation Mexican born in the United States. As a child, Becerra was always in the kitchen lending their mother a helping hand. Unlike some chefs that spent their childhoods in home kitchens, Becerra was not fond of cooking. “To be honest, I hated it. All I wanted was to be outside playing with friends.”
Then, thirteen years ago, they started as a dishwasher at a local restaurant in Ormond Beach, Fla. The gig provided a bit of extra income, and it also introduced them to fellow cooks flourishing and thriving in the restaurant industry. It wasn’t long before Becerra started working the grill station and fell in love with cooking.
In 2010, they helped their mother open her taqueria in Daytona Beach. It was through this process that Becerra learned more about their heritage and fell in love with Mexican culture and cuisine. They felt inspired by Chef Andres (Becerra’s mother’s executive chef) and his ability to produce family recipes on a larger scale. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, Becerra chose to start their own business, and Gorditas ATL was born! “Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate to be able to create a fun, safe space for myself and others with this start-up food business of mine,” they remarked. “Today’s passion still comes from loving people through food.”
Becerra;s featured dish is Albóndigas, or Mexican meatball soup. It is a staple in Mexican cuisine – especially in the Acámbaro Guanajuato culture where their family originates from. The dish eventually traveled to Mexico, where time and culture perfected the soup into the Albóndigas that people know and love today. The soup is always built from a flavorful broth with a variety of vegetables and homemade meatballs.
Becerra’s abuela passed her “recipe” to their mother, who then passed the recipe to Becerra. When making it for the first time, they remember being in the kitchen and tasting the soup with closed eyes until the taste brought their abuela’s presence. They make the meatballs with beef, rice and a hard boiled egg in the center. The soup itself is centered around a tomato chipotle broth with the inclusion of various root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes. This dish will forever hold a tender place in Becerra’s heart.
Punk Foodie offers this weekly column about Punk Food, a moniker for a cuisine without defining or distinctive ingredients, techniques and dishes which is being born out of the increasing infusion of the diverse cultures and experiences that live in our city. Find out where Gorditas ATL is popping up next and go deeper via Punk Foodie’s weekly guides and pop-up calendar