NovaXyon Entrepreneurial A ‘Holy Treatment’ To Fill The Hollow In London’s Mexican Eating place Scene

A ‘Holy Treatment’ To Fill The Hollow In London’s Mexican Eating place Scene


Edson Diaz-Fuentes has been on a 15-year-long mission to transform London’s Mexican food scene. As the co-founder with Natalie Diaz-Fuentes of Santo Remedio, he’s already made his mark – but as he tells me, their work is still not complete.

Born in Mexico City, Diaz-Fuentes first came to the UK in the early 2000s and immediately noticed a lack of proper Mexican food compared to New York, where he had lived for a time. Santo Remedio, which means ‘holy remedy’ in Spanish, refers to Mexican food being the remedy to fix the previous dearth of options for lovers of Mexican food.

Today, Diaz-Fuentes oversees two bustling locations in London Bridge and Shoreditch, but like all entrepreneurs – particularly those in hospitality – it hasn’t come without challenges. For starters, sourcing authentic ingredients has been a hurdle from day one. Many specialty items come directly from Mexico at a premium. “For me, the most important thing is flavor, so I do use authentic ingredients like Mexican dried chilies and herbs. But we adapt when we can’t source items that meet our standards due to seasonality or availability.” For example, using Spanish poblanos or Thai chilis: “It’s a question of flavor,” he says.

Replicating traditional cooking methods abroad has limits too. As much as he would love to serve barbacoa lamb, which is traditionally roasted overnight in an underground pit, running restaurants in the heart of London doesn’t allow it. There always trade-offs, with the challenge being how to maximize the flavor and service.

Family-style sharing plates reflect Mexico’s communal, familial dining culture. “We didn’t invent our style of service,” Diaz-Fuentes says. “I’ve always wanted to highlight that sharing is integral to Mexican food culture. Tapas-style sharing has become very trendy for restaurants, but for us it’s an authentic way of dining.”

He welcomes more Mexican eateries popping up over the years as signs of progress. “Competition is really good. That means that the supply chain is better.” But he stresses that the quality of service matters as much as food. A challenge in the UK, compared to other countries, is that many people don’t consider hospitality to be a career – hence his recent decision to get a sponsor license to hire talent from abroad.

Having the right location is critical and that involves working with landlords: “I think that there are really good landlords that understand the business model. And they understand that attracting concepts like us for their estate, long term is what matters,” he says. “I’m talking about 20 years, 25 years”… “we are in the game for the long term.”

Diaz-Fuentes grew up in Mexico City, and admires Elena Reygadas, who fuses fresh pasta with Mexican flavors. The search continues for more inspiration. Soon he will visit Los Cabos – the number one organic producer in Mexico and one of the biggest farm-to-table destinations globally – to create a limited edition menu with the likes of Angel Carbajal, Javier Plascencia, Edgar Román, and César Pita.

Perhaps he’ll find some potential employees while out there. “Those who have visited Mexico talk about how friendly Mexicans are and how we try to accommodate guests. I want to offer that same spirit of service,” he says. It’s worked in the past: “When I travel I’ll chat with people in restaurants abroad and encourage those with the skills to consider coming to work in London someday.” Some of them have called when in London and have gone to work with him.

“It’s not all about food and drink. You can eat and drink anywhere. But how do we make you feel once you are here? How do we treat you to exceed your expectations?” Ultimately, the measure of success is when people keep coming back with their friends and family.

A third full restaurant is in their sights: “We have an established reputation, and we still see huge potential to replicate our concept in new neighborhoods.” Let’s hope they can find the talented employees needed to deliver.


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