Show us the man who doesn’t love nachos, and we’ll show you a damn liar. Nachos are delicious, fairly inexpensive, and, since rarely do people order “nachos for one” (how sad!), communal. But for as much as we love some cheese-drenched chips, we can’t claim to love them as much as Gina Hamadey.
Hamadey penned the book Buenos Nachos, a 160-page cookbook that compiles nacho recipes from famous chefs and celebrities. We sat down with her to discuss the secrets to a great nacho platter, the most bizarre nachos she’s encountered, and how to make a nacho volcano.
You can pick up a copy of Buenos Nachos here.
What was the common reaction when you approached these chefs and celebrities about providing nacho recipes?
GH: There were so many enthusiastic, quick yeses. It speaks to the nacho itself. I think it’s just a fun challenge to figure out, Okay, what is my take on the nacho. So we really got a lot of quick responses.
Was there anyone who was the most passionate, who was just so excited to share their nacho recipe with you?
GH: Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern), who I’ve worked with before. I originally didn’t reach out to him. I always just think of him as so busy with all his shows. But at a certain point I just shot off a quick email and he got back to me within 5 minutes, like, ‘Oh, yes, yes. I will do this. I make nachos for my kid all the time.’ So he was very excited about it.
Who supplied either your favorite recipe or the one that interests you the most?
GH: I’ve been asking myself that and I’m not sure I have one yet. I’m looking forward to making them all this winter and trying to figure that out. Tyler Kord (No. 7 and No. 7 Sub) made clam nachos that don’t have any cheese in them, and I think people will take umbrage to that, but that one’s really interesting. There’s something about the brininess of the clams that gets me excited about that one.
Since you mentioned not including cheese in a recipe, what actually constitutes “nachos”? Did you have a hard time pinning that down?
GH: Yeah, it’s interesting because I feel like we’d have a definition and then a recipe would break that definition. I guess I’m thinking of it as: chips layered with various toppings on a platter of some sort. About 75% or 80% of the recipes have cheese, but if there isn’t cheese there’s some sort of creamy element. There’s a cashew cream on one of them. Michael Solomonov (Zahav) has a tahini situation that adds that creaminess. So there’s something drizzled, whether that’s melted cheese or something else.
How about the wildest?
GH: Definitely. There are two that come to mind. The Mount St. Nacho from Justin Warner (winner of the eight season of Food Network Star). He made a nacho volcano and used a siphon transfer pump so it worked. It quite truly is a volcano. Also, Crazy Legs Conti, who’s a competitive eater, made his with a can of beer and cup of Cynar in the middle. The idea is to share the Cynar, share the beer, and share the nachos.
You also get into drink pairings in the book. What pairs well with nachos?
GH: So the obvious is beer. I did write a little Mexican beer cheat sheet, which I think is handy. Aside from that, we also include five cocktail recipes that go great with nachos. There’s the classic margarita. We include a spicy watermelon margarita. There’s a paloma, which is one of my favorite cocktails.
After composing this book did you walk away with an idea of what makes a good nacho?
GH: To get as many textures as possible is one thing. Another rule of thumb that I’ve sort of taken away is to step away from the microwave. For the normal person, you’re going to make much better nachos if you just make your oven hot, say 375-400° for 6 to 8 minutes. It’s going to be well worth the time.