Above: Shrimp and grits. Right: Israel Rivera. Photographs courtesy of the Shop Breakfast & Lunch.
Chef Israel Rivera is the head chef and owner of the Shop Breakfast & Lunch, in Albuquerque. The restaurant, which features a distinctive black-and-green interior, serves huge portions of colorful from-scratch Mexican fusion dishes like eggs Benedict with carne adovada and green chile hollandaise. Since its 2015 opening, the Shop has become a Nob Hill brunch favorite, and Rivera himself a culinary trailblazer in Albuquerque.
Was there a cook in your family?
My mom cooked a lot. But it wasn’t anything crazy, just very simple Mexican food. Everything was made from scratch. I didn’t eat green chile until I was like in high school. I came home one day and asked my parents, “Do you guys know about green chile?” And they said, “Oh, it’s a New Mexican thing.”
How have you seen the culinary scene in Albuquerque change?
Ten years ago here, everybody was stuck in their own little box, doing the same thing. And I think there’s a lot of younger cooks out there now who are really trying to push it. They’re not following the rules.
You’ve done a lot of traveling. What other food cities do you like?
New Orleans. I fell in love with the food there, I fell in love with the South. The deep understanding of food that people have out there is crazy to me. It really gave me an appreciation for the local movement.
Rivera recently started The Shop TV, on YouTube, a series of recipe videos that he makes with his brother. There are only two episodes so far—French toast and red chile BBQ grilled chicken with grilled corn—but many more to come. “I hate the idea of having secret recipes,” Rivera says. “I tell people how we make everything here.”