The entire identity of Eric Rivera’s Seattle restaurant Addo is to not have a set identity in the first place. Before Covid-19, he was constantly building new and disparate experiences within the restaurant—one day serving an intimate and elaborate tasting menu experience, the next hosting a pig roast. So when the pandemic shut down his restaurant, the Alinea Group alum with technical chops and a restless streak was accustomed to pivoting. Without laying off staff, he transitioned quickly to takeout, but went even beyond that. He turned his place into a grocery store, selling pantry staples as well as his own hot sauces and seasoning blends.
But what has been consistent both before and after Covid-19 has been the chef looking to his Puerto Rican heritage for inspiration. He grew up in Olympia, Wash., with parents who made dishes like mofongo regularly at home. At Addo he’s combined this traditional dish of mashed plantains with the Pacific Northwest delicacy Dungeness crab.
In this episode of Robb Report Culinary School, Rivera shows how you can make the Puerto Rican classic at home. He also explains how he’s surviving the plague, challenging the restaurant system he grew up in and ruffling feathers along the way.
Odds and Ends and Additional Links
- Early in the pandemic, Rivera caused a stir in the food world with his editorial “The Chefs I used to Admire Aren’t the Leaders We Need Right Now.”
- When Goya’s CEO praised President Trump, it set off a backlash against the company. Outlets from the Washington Post to the New York Times called on Rivera for his perspective because he was selling his own special blend of sazón (his includes annatto, cumin, paprika and more) that people wanting to boycott Goya could buy.
- Since the Covid-19 shutdown began, in addition to sazón, Rivera has been selling his house-made hot sauces, extruded pastas, pantry staples, seasoning salts and more, delivering nationwide. You can find them all on Addo’s website.
- Head to Robb Report’s Instagram page to check out more episodes of Culinary School, including Top Chef winner Mei Lin’s congee and James Beard Award-winner Chris Shepherd’s recipe for bacon chile jam.