Alex Flores' catering company showcases recipes big on flavor and tradition.

The true cuisine of Mexico is hyper-regional and diverse, relying on seasonal ingredients local to each area. So when Alex Flores moved to the U.S. in 2009, he was disappointed to find that so many of the dishes from his Mexico City upbringing were being dumbed down with pre-made marinades, sauces and salsas.

Take Flores’ personal favorite, cochinita pibil. This Yucatan-style dish features pork marinated in annatto seeds, fresh orange juice and spices before being wrapped in banana leaves and cooked low and slow. “Many businesses buy the paste, and there’s just so much junk in it,” says Flores, who committed to making his own sauces and marinades from scratch when he started his catering business, Pibil Columbus, in 2016. (Pibil is a Mayan word meaning buried or cooked underground.) Flores’ take on cochinita pibil exemplifies this commitment to authentic Mexican cuisine and has become the caterer’s most popular order, available both as a menu item as well as a whole hog presentation dubbed “The Pibil Experience.”

Striving to showcase simple, colorful and flavorful traditional recipes, Flores takes pride in introducing Columbus to foods like hibiscus flower enchiladas and tacos campechanos, a Mexico City street food consisting of chopped tri-tip, Mexican chorizo and pork rinds mixed with a slightly spicy red sauce. Having relocated to Ohio originally for his wife, Michelle, whose favorite recipe is her husband’s chilaquiles, Flores has found strong acceptance here. “Columbus is very passionate about food. [People are] willing to try different foods, things they don’t know,” he says.

Though Pibil Columbus currently provides catering for groups and private events, Flores hopes to expand operations, with sights set on a future food truck or restaurant. You can also catch him at 1400 Food Lab, where Pibil often holds cooking classes.