Esteban Castillo, author of Chicano Eats and El Leñador alum, is publishing his second cookbook, Chicano Bakes. This new addition to his series of books touches on the sweeter side of traditional Chicano dishes. The new additions will focus on favorites such as pan dulce, cakes, drinks and more food that he ate during his childhood.
“My favorite recipe from Chicano Bakes has to be my Classic Caramel Flan,” Castillo said. “It’s just a classic recipe that never fails.”
Castillo’s inspiration for Chicano Bakes came from his online audience after his first publication. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, having an online platform became the next big thing.
“Since I wasn’t able to do a traditional book tour, I launched a series of cooking classes so readers and I could cook out of the book together,” Castillo said. “During these classes, folks would ask me for all sorts of recipes and I realized that the books for the things my community wanted to bake just weren’t available. So I pitched Chicano Bakes to my publisher and they loved the idea.”
Castillo found great inspiration for his aspiration and work ethic from his grandparents. Describing his grandmother as a “humble, hardworking, and appreciative” person. Castillo gravitated toward her and picked up these characteristics in his life to produce the type of work he does now.
“Writing a cookbook is a team effort, so the biggest hurdle I have to overcome is taking on the role of a recipe developer, recipe tester, food stylist, and photographer,” Castillo said. “I do enjoy it though, I love being part of every single step of the book, writing process, recipe development and capturing the photography because I get to pour myself into every aspect of the book and ensure that the end product is exactly what I envisioned.”
Castillo, originally from Santa Ana, California, is a Cal Poly Humboldt alum and graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a public relations focus and a minor in graphic design. During Castillo’s undergraduate experience, he was involved with El Leñador and developed different skills while being on staff.
“I was part of the initial team that helped nurture El Leñador in its first year of inception,” Castillo said. “I came on as the layout editor, and at the time, it was a really small team of about five-six of us taking on the job of 10-12 people. We all had extra duties. One of mine was a column I had launched called “Mi Cocina Mi Sazón” where I got to showcase different recipes every month.”
According to Castillo’s experience working on his column it was “ an easy transition when I launched my food blog “Chicano Eats” two years later. If there’s any piece of advice I can leave you with, it’s this; explore everything, and pursue your passions,” Castillo said. “If I hadn’t explored food writing in college, I’m not sure that I would have ever launched my website.”
To learn more about Castillo, his cultural traditions and food go to chicanoeats.com. On Nov. 1 Chicano Bakes will be available for the public.