Executive Chef Michael Thomas
Photos by Tina Garceau
When Jason Evenchik approached Executive Chef Michael Thomas about a plan to craft a new identity for the dining space at 800 Fitzwater St., then the home of Growlers, the latter figure, five years removed from professional preparations of Mexican food, sided with his overseer’s suggestion to give Bella Vista inhabitants and visitors some south-of-the-border delights. Nearly six months into his stint at La Casa de tu Madre, Thomas is enjoying a culinary application of the “just like riding a bike” idiom, pleasing patrons with a menu consisting solely of tacos and appetizers.
“There’s nothing that I really like more than just making really good stuff, and that’s the whole point of my being here,” the 39-year-old said from the 60-seat haunt. “We love that we have a consistent stream of diners and want to become familiar to many more folks.”
The West Philly inhabitant and New York City native had initially believed he would engender pleasure through images, as he gravitated toward photography in early adulthood. When a customer commended his bagel sandwich-making abilities in 1998, Thomas knew he needed to explore the exciting possibilities within the field and has used his fingers to craft many well-received meals and to type highly respected locations such as Bar Ferdinand, Kraftwork, and Honey’s Sit ’N Eat, 2101 South St., on his resumé.
“This world hits so many needs for me,” he confessed, noting enjoying instant gratification, executing creative impulses, and forging team unity as his chief urges. “Especially in this environment, I feed off the vibe and the atmosphere to give everyone what I hope are enjoyable options.”
Enamored with the task of making a personal mark through each plate, Thomas, who also considers himself fortunate to have so many talented peers, whom he quipped have welcomed him into their “secret society,” makes obvious his passion for preparing savory provisions through the site’s Flautas de papa. Easily La Casa de tu Madre’s most popular item, with 500 orders a month, the vegetarian selection can count its preparer as one of its biggest fans, as he regularly consumes the goodie. Due to its acclaim among guests, one could easily say it has found its place among “the really good stuff” that Thomas loves to occupy himself with making.
“This is my third Mexican spot as a chef, and it’s really rewarding being here,” he said. “We’re still relatively new, too, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the spring and the summer.”
Ingredients for Flautas Filling:
2 pounds of potatoes
.28 ounces of Mexican oregano
.7 ounces of salt
14 ounces of Oaxaca cheese
2.8 ounces of jalapeños seeded
Ingredients for Salsa Verde:
2 pounds of tomatillos, peeled and rinsed
1.7 ounces of garlic
3.5 ounces of cilantro
10.5 ounces of Spanish onions
1.4 ounces of jalapeños
1 ounce of salt
2.11 ounces of lime juice
Ingredients for Lime Crema:
31.7 ounces of sour cream
1.7 ounces of squeezed lime juice
.7 ounces of salt
Directions for All Components:
For the filling, cube the potatoes, and boil until soft. Mash, and mix with the remaining filling ingredients.
Rough chop all of the salsa verde elements, combine in a blender, and purée.
Unite all of the lime crema ingredients. La Casa de tu Madre uses corn tortillas that it warms and rolls with a decent amount of the mash filling. The location then fries them, pours the salsa verde on top of them, and finishes with a drizzle of the lime crema. ■
La Casa de tu Madre
Owner: Jason Evenchik
Opened: Oct. 18, 2015
800 Fitzwater St.