Q&A: Alex Saenz of BISq

Portrait by Isabel Roeder

The menu curated by chef Alez Saenz at Cambridge’s BISq is fittingly eclectic: From small tapas to whole animal roasts, the dishes are punctuated with myriad influences from his background. A perfect fried chicken recalls his upbringing in South Carolina, while antichuchos and ceviche echo the cuisine of his native Peru. At the same time, there are dishes that feel distinctly modern New England—a cuisine that Saenz mastered in kitchens like Puritan & Company, Ten Tables, and Straight Wharf. We caught up with the chef to learn more about his favorite spices, sausages, and dining spots.

Favorite dish:

Whatever sausage Dave and Lydia have on the menu at Sycamore. They make the best sausages!

Desert island spice:

Chilies, in all forms—fresh, dried, powders, or pastes. Aleppo, togarashi, aji amarillo, rocoto, Espelette, ancho, guajillo, etc.

Kitchen playlist:

Depends on the mood and who’s with me, but I’ll use Pandora so it rotates. A Tribe Called Quest. Beastie Boys. The Police. The Wailers. JJ Grey & Mofro. Neil Young. Iron & Wine. Boy & Bear. Gregory Alan Isakov. And many more—I love music.

Favorite food destination:

Lima, Peru.

Cooking inspiration:

Farmers, fishermen, people, and the connection we have with them and their products. Telling their story on a plate. Cooks who want to learn. Seasons that want to be giving. The neverending quest to unlock the mystery of food. Each ingredient gives you endless possibilities—to discover and unlock them is our ultimate goal.

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