Everyone knows that the best parties always end up in the kitchen. Meet Carlos Maciel, the Owner of Ay Caramba, Eh! in Vaughn, ON.
AY CARAMBA, EH!
What’s your favorite seasonal ingredient?
Squash Blossoms! I really like to incorporate them into quesadillas, which is something that’s done a lot in Mexico. The combination of squash blossoms and Oaxaca cheese in a quesadilla is amazing – the flavors are just very delightful.
What is your favorite thing about being a restaurant owner?
I love that I have the opportunity to lead. Ay Caramba has my touch. It’s my responsibility to lead a team and put lots of different puzzle pieces together to get things to work well, and I enjoy doing that. I especially enjoy it when my team grasps my vision for Ay Caramba, and truly understands why they do what they do. Understanding how to get the best out of my team makes me really happy.
Ay Caramba Eh! has 11 different taco offerings. Do you have a favorite menu item?
My favorite tacos are Tacos Al Pastor! Tacos Al Pastor has marinated pork with pineapple, onion, and cilantro, and these tacos are typically not eaten until dusk – around five or six o’clock. They pair well with pops, like Coca-Cola, a good beer, or horchata, which is a very refreshing Mexican beverage made of rice, cinnamon, and milk.
What is your drink of choice?
Homemade lemonade. 100%! The combination of lime and sugar is just so so refreshing.
What is your favorite dish to cook at home?
My favorite dish to prepare is Mexican-style Bruschetta with refried beans, ham, a little butter, melted cheese, pico de gallo, and crema. We call them molletes. My little boy will often come to me and say, “Dad, it’s time for some molletes!”, and that’s when I know it’s time to make them!
Molletes are quite simple to make. You put bread with butter, cheese, and refried beans in an oven, let the cheese melt, and add toppings like pico de gallo, ham, and salsa to the warm ‘cheese bread once it comes out of the oven.
We call moelletes Mexican Bruschetta because the dish is quite similar to traditional bruschetta made with tomato and basil, it’s just the toppings that make the difference.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love to exercise. I’m a very active person and have a routine that I stick to. I like to go to the gym also often go on walks. Exercising is my chance to release any stress I’m holding, it allows me to clear my mind and convert any tension I have into positivity.
What to you is the best part of working with Ontario food and drink?
Being able to support other small businesses. Ay Caramba Eh! is a small business, and we know how much it means to us when we get support from others, so it is very important that we take the kindness that we receive from others, and pay it forward.
Why is Feast On important to you and your restaurant?
Feast On provides us the opportunity to be exposed to so many other industry players, which enables us to strengthen our connections with all kinds of industry professionals. Being part of the Feast On network also keeps us aware of opportunities for collaborations with suppliers and other industry players, and gives us constant access to industry-related information, which is so important for all businesses, but especially one’s that are relatively new.
What does your ‘Perfect Weekend’ in Vaughan look like?
Going to an Ontario beach or to a nearby trail for hiking! I can’t say that I have a favorite place to eat. I just always like to explore different eateries and check out what’s new in town.