In 2007, Danny Mena and partners created a pop-up restaurant, Hecho en Dumbo, in the heart of Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood. The concept was original and developed out of necessity, real Mexican fare owned and run by Mexicans. Its mix of Mexican standards, live music performances, and intimate space in a seemingly industrial neighborhood made it an instant hit. From that success, the team moved into a permanent space along the popular Bowery enclave in Lower Manhattan. As a veteren chef of Blue Hill and the Modern, Mena aspires to move away from the typical Mexican clichés in the dishes he creates at Hecho. Each dish is complex with a co-mingling of authentic ingredients. As a result, the food comes off as progressive for a New York palate. Mena wants the Hecho brand to connect New York with contemporary Mexican culture. Next door the restaurant has opened the cantina, Salon Hecho, that hosts Mexican bands and DJS. And in 2013, Mena and team hope to add a mezcaleria to the list of Mexican destinations in New York.
Place of Birth: Mexico City
Parents: Barbara Sue Stockdell and Arcadio Victor Mena Alvear
When did you move to NYC and why? Eight years ago to pursue a culinary degree.
Which neighborhood do you live in the city and why? Lower East Side because I have been living there on and off. Before I knew the city, I thought it was a cool place to live. Now I like it because I can walk to work.
Name a New York moment: Riding my bicycle across the Manhattan Bridge to work in Brooklyn.
How do you keep it Mex in the City? Salon Hecho. We opened the cantina right next door to Hecho en Dumbo. Last night we had a nice little domino tournament.
Share the best piece of advice a close relative or someone dear to you gave you? It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do it to the best of your ability. Take pride in what you do.
What's your drink of choice? Dos Pistolas: A cold beer and mezcal.
Name three songs on your mind right now: "Dover" by Bill Callahan, "Creator" by Santigold, and "Souvenir" by DaPuntoBeat.
Tell us your favorite Mexican expression. No solo del pan vive el hombre.