Celebrating Cinco de Mayo: Chef cooks food with passion, love and a taste of Mexican heritage

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Sunday, May 5, 2024
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a taste of Mexican heritage
Yara Herrera, owner of Hellbender Nighttime Cafe in Queens, has some tasty dishes to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage on Cinco de Mayo.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Though some may know the holiday as a big day for drinking, there's much more to the celebrations.

In Mexico, May 5 is recognized as the day the Mexicans triumphed over the French in the Battle of Puebla.

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Back in 1862, Napoleon attempted to invade Mexico -- his army of 6,000 soldiers facing off against 2,000 Mexican soldiers.

The outnumbered Mexican army defeated the French, and their victory has been recognized as a national holiday ever since. In fact, every year in Puebla people reenact the battle.

Part of the celebrations also includes recognizing the rich culture behind the community, and what better way to do that than through food!

Yara Herrera is the executive chef and owner of Hellbender Nighttime Cafe in Ridgewood, Queens.

Herrera joined ABC 7 New York, Eyewitness News on Sunday morning to share some of her favorite dishes that she believes encompasses Mexican cuisine and heritage.

Here are the recipes to make each dish:

Watermelon Chamoy


- Watermelon (bite-sized bits)

- Hibiscus flower (30 grams)

- Dried apricot (100 grams)

- Dark raisins (55 grams)

- Granulated sugar (90 grams)

- Tajin (40 grams)

- Salt (20 grams)

- Arbol chile (1 each)

- Water (1000 grams)

- Orange juice (20 grams)


1) In a medium pot, combine all ingredients except the orange juice

2) Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then cook for about 20 minutes until the apricots are rehydrated

3) Add all ingredients to a blender with the orange juice, and then blend until a smooth sauce (i.e. chamoy)

4) Store chamoy in the cold

5) Cut watermelon into bite-sized cubes

6) Drizzle chamoy onto watermelon pieces

Shrimp Cocktail Broth


- Shrimp (pieces)

- Pico de gallo (tomato, cilantro, lime, white onion)

- Avocado (slices or scoops)

- Clamato (650 grams)

- Lime juice (100 grams)

- Maggi Jugo sauce (5 grams)

- Jalapeno (45 grams)

- Ketchup (80 grams)

- Kosher salt (10 grams)


1) Deseed jalapenos

2) Combine liquid ingredients, condiments and jalapenos in a blender

3) Blend ingredients until smooth cocktail broth

4) Store cocktail broth in the cold

5) Add slices/scoops of avocado and shrimp into a small bowl

6) Add pico de gallo on top of shrimp and pour broth over it

Salsa Verde Sauce for Mushroom Machete


- Tomatillo (530 grams)

- Serrano pepper (30 grams)

- Yellow onion (120 grams)

- Cilantro (50 grams)

- Lime juice (65 grams)

- Kosher salt (13 grams)


1) Quarter cut tomatillos

2) Chop serrano peppers (with seeds) and cilantro (stems OK)

3) Combine all ingredients into a blender

4) Blend ingredients until there are no large pieces, but salsa is still chunky

5) Store salsa verde sauce in the cold and eat with mushroom machete

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