Verve Culture’s Tortilla Press (available in a smaller, street taco size and a larger, burrito size) ticks the boxes for all our favorite kitchen accessories: It’s easy to use, looks fabulous on our counter with its rustic-chic exterior, and brings a delicious taste of traditional, global cuisine into our kitchens. We sat down with Jules Vertrees, one of Verve Culture’s co-founders, to get her take on the perfect taco night, what makes homemade tortillas taste so great, and how she knew the best tortilla press could help bring American families together around the dinner table.
Jules, I’ve heard Taco Night is quite the affair in your house! Will you tell us more?
When we do Taco Night, it’s all about experiential eating and bringing family and friends together, much more so than other nights where it’s like, “Here’s your meat and potatoes and two veggies on the plate.” Instead, we’re involving everybody in the process of making the tortillas and tacos. There are the little kids rolling the dough, the older kids pressing it on the press, and the adults cooking the tortillas on the griddle. And then everyone eats around the table passing around meat, queso, cilantro, and guacamole. Taco Night is about enjoying something that everybody has taken a part in.
What about when you’ve invited people outside of your family over for dinner. Do you think they really want to be involved in the cooking process?
They definitely do! You see that at any dinner party when people ask, “Can I do anything?” People want to help! They want to be involved in the process of creating a meal. The tortilla press is a great way to get everybody in the family or the dinner party involved in creating that meal. Then everybody can take ownership and it just tastes better!
Speaking of taste … Will you whet our appetites and tell us about the taste of these tortillas? How difficult are they to make?
At Verve Culture, we’re all about promoting the tradition, history, and origin of different cultures. Store-bought tortillas are not anything like the real thing from Mexico. With the tortilla press, we’re trying to take the intimidation out of making something from scratch. With only two ingredients, it really can’t get any easier! (Here’s a link to see the tortilla press in action!)
What’s the backstory behind the tortilla press?
Well, the mission of Verve Culture is to curate collections of traditional yet iconic gourmet kitchen tools and gourmet foods from different corners of the world. We really look for things that have a history, have a story, and have an emotional connection to that culture. So when we start looking to bring in cultural items from a new country, the first thing we do is immerse ourselves in their society.
When we went to Mexico, we visited street fairs, markets, and restaurants and we kept noticing all of these street-side vendors serving tacos. They had either a wood or aluminum tortilla press and they had the corn masa flour as a dough and there they were pressing tortillas on the side of the street. They would put the dough on a huge skillet and cook up these amazing, vibrant, beautiful, delicious-looking corn tortillas. And then they also had all of these huge bowls of different fillings: chicken, shrimp, carne asada—You name it! People were just hovering around these street vendors, laughing, and enjoying their food. That’s really where it all came from. We just smelled it and saw it and ate it and lived it, and we knew it was something we had to include in our collection.
My mouth is watering! Yum! Are there benefits to the tortilla press besides making delicious tacos?
Well, like I mentioned, we just knew this tortilla press kit would be a product that the North American market could really appreciate and utilize and get enjoyment out of. We were confident it would help people learn how to cook something that they may not have known how to do before. They’re broadening their horizons. Ultimately, we want to educate and inspire people. We hope the tortilla press helps them bring friends and families together to enjoy this cultural experience.