Known as much for giving great quotes as she is for her cooking, Diana Davila is a brilliant chef who really knows what Mexican cuisine is about. We took a few minutes to catch up with Diana ahead of October’s Taste Talks Chicago.

What was the biggest challenge opening your restaurant Mi Tocaya earlier this year?

To limit spending! What is necessary, what could wait, always get more quotes and leave some money set aside.

What’s a prominent food memory from your childhood?

My parents would take us on some epic restaurant days where we would spend the day “downtown” starting with brunch, festivals, specialty food shops, swanky it spots, dives, live music and finally always stop in Pilsen for late night tacos. My parents are pretty dope!

How do you balance long restaurant hours with having a family?

Now, having my own business it is easier because it is a family business. Our kids go to school across the street from the restaurant and they have their spot in the office; we make them a part of Mi Tocaya! They are proud that we have the restaurant and they get to see what our hard work, long hours and progress is for.

What’s on the menu when you’re cooking for friends and family at home?

Frijoles charros; I make linguine and clams, paella (I adored my time in España), any sort of guisado but picadillo is a go to.

I read that you spent time in Oaxaca which helped shape your restaurant Mi Tocaya. What is it about Oaxacan cuisine that is so special?

It is like a valley of hidden treasures, an old world full of artesanías, a jungle of fruits and vegetable that have found the perfect place to live and flourish. It is incredibly inspiring to anyone’s senses. Tasting food by hands of women whom have been cooking and harvesting for centuries is pure magic.

Where can people find you/what will you be doing as part of the Taste Talks Chicago program?

Not sure yet but throwing down some delicious comida mexicana.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?

I tell myself I’d be a boxer.