Three Things You Didn’t Know is a reoccurring series where we dig up interesting facts about your favorite chef, bartender, sommelier, cheese monger, cicerone, GM, or industry insider.
It was guacamole, not tacos, that Rayme Rossello, owner of Comida and formerly co-owner of Proto’s Pizza, first fell in love when visiting her mother in Mexico. And it was the essence of street food—so simple and real and inexpensive—that Rossello reveled in and eventually would build a business out of. Now, nine years after launching the hot pink Comida taco truck and six years after opening Comida’s first brick-and-mortar, Rossello still favors guacamole made the right way: with avocados scooped from their peels and smashed with diced chiles, minced garlic, and fresh-squeezed citrus. As Rossello sees it, good food is made from scratch and by hand. There are no shortcuts.
And so, each day it takes the restaurants (there are three: one in Longmont, one at the Source, and one at Stanley Marketplace) three hours to make guacamole. After October 28, however, only the Source and Stanley will continue this daily chore. As announced last week, Rossello will close the Longmont location and focus on the two Denver restaurants. “Prospect is an awesome neighborhood and we were so welcomed,” Rossello says. “But it’s the sort of place that wants an owner-operator on site. I can’t be in the same place everyday.”
The good news, says Rossello, is that Comida itself is not going away. That vibrant, fun vibe and the legendary griddled, slightly charred tacos can still be found at the Source and Stanley Marketplace. There’s even the possibility of expanding Comida’s menu items. “I just went to Oaxaca and I’d love to do moles and branch out into different flavors,” Rossello says. “There’s so much to do within the realm of what we’re doing and I want to keep getting better.”
With the Longmont location’s closure pending, it’s a bittersweet time for Rossello and it has her reflecting on the early days of Comida. On how the truck came to be named Tina: Aside from drinking beer in a rundown parking lot dubbed “the Cantina” after a long day on the truck, one of the many movie lines that stuck during that time was “Tina, eat the food!” from Napoleon Dynamite. And on some of the truck mishaps, such as the taking the corner of Iris and 28th streets in Boulder too fast and watching the oven—full of braised pork and beef—launch its contents onto the floor. Or on how, one snowy night, someone ran into Tina and totaled her. Tina was rebuilt and is now better than ever. “She’s a diesel girl now,” Rossello says. “She starts up every time we turn her on.” In many ways, you could say Rossello is of the same ilk, she’s steady and vibrant, and always ready to get on with the show. Read on for three more things you didn’t know about Rayme Rossello.
1. In my free time… I’m totally a crafter. I love to sew. I knit, I craft and make art. I wanted to be a shoemaker…. I did learn how to make shoes from a woman I dated—I made one pair. They were mules. I just couldn’t see making a living doing it. I guess I could go to Boston and learn from a cobbler. But Louboutins are crazy expensive and they’re probably made in a factory. Can you imagine handmade shoes? Pizza and tacos make more sense to me.
2. The first taco created for the truck was… The Short Rib Situation. I had a super awesome gay friend and everything was a situation (like “I love your sweater situation”), and this became the short rib situation. But we would make all these tacos on the truck and then have to throw away all the bones so it became the Sirloin Situation.
3. On learning by doing… For me, the most formative learning years in terms of the restaurant business were when I worked at Jax and worked closely with Dave Query and when Pam Proto and I opened Proto’s Pizza. [Pam and I] had to do everything. I had to teach myself how to do books. Three weeks after opening pay roll taxes were due. It was like, What is this? I’m really motivated by fear and wanting to do the right thing.