Born in Mexico City, Bruno Carreto moved to Melbourne when he was 9 years old. With a desire to bring a little piece of authentic Mexico to Melbourne, he learned the art of taco making with the taquero of Mexico and opened Los Hermanos in Brunswick three years ago.
You opened in 2012, but before that you weren’t in the food industry at all.
No I wasn’t. I was an accountant for 12 years in the corporate sector. But I didn’t feel that the kind of food that was being provided here as Mexican food was a real representation of Mexican cuisine and culture and so I decided to get into this. But it goes way back before then when I’d go to friends’ places and we’d have cheese on toast and then they’d come to my place and I’d do the same but have a salsa on it and they’d say wow, this is amazing, and I saw that people wanted the real thing.
How did you go from that to becoming chef and owner of a restaurant?
I went to Mexico in 2010 for 18 months to learn more about the food. I worked in a taqueria doing street food for about 6 months. That was the style of food I wanted and I didn’t want someone to have control over the food in the restaurant I was going to create. I wanted it to always be the food that I wanted to make in the way that I wanted to represent it. Sticking to that that has been important in the success of the restaurant.
How easy was it to go back to Mexico and do that?
It was difficult. They wouldn’t give me a job. I told them that I needed a job, I was passionate about food, and asked them to help me. Their reply was to give me a broom and tell me to start sweeping. That’s how I got the job. Then I progressed to chopping onions for a week. They told me that everything has its little tricks. “The way we chop onions is different from the way restaurants chop onions. It’s the way of the taquero.” There is a lot of pride in that profession in Mexico. There are certain towns in Mexico where the great grandfather is a taquero, the father is a taquero. It’s a tradition. These towns make the best tacos, and that’s where the best taqueros are.
So I went there to learn from them. It was difficult because they’re guarded. They don’t want to give away their recipes. The head guy has his recipe and he’ll say, “Add one cup of this,” and it will be something in a jar that he has brought in from home and no one knows what’s in it. They are the little tricks that give each taquero his ‘sazon’, the seasoning or taste.
Are you doing purely what you learned there or have you had to adapt it?
I had to change it because over there, what you get is a tortilla with meat, some onion and coriander on it. That’s it. Then you have a whole lot of salsas, which over there are left in the open and there’s a certain hygiene that people grow up with and are used to in Mexico. I don’t know that people here would be happy to use a salsa that has been there all day. But if you don’t add the right salsa to the taco it won’t taste the same, so you have to educate people and I don’t want to take the risk that they are not having the optimum experience so I prepare my tacos the way I like them, with the right sauce. There are different salsa for different foods. For example, there is salsa borracha, the drunken sauce, and it has three different chillis, tomatoes and garlic and it’s red and it goes beautifully with lamb. In Mexico you know to add the red one to lamb. If you don’t add the red one, it won’t taste the way it is supposed to taste.
Where does the name, Los Hermanos come from?
It means brothers, but for me it’s more about community. I used to live just a street away down the road, so it has always been about community.
339 Victoria School, Brunswick
Mon – Wed 6pm – 11pm
Thurs – Sat 6pm – 11pm