In Toronto, Camarena’s frank talk generated a lot of discussion, unfortunately not all of it positive. Indeed, he admits that the surprising amount of vicious blowback made him wary of talking to TasteToronto.
“The reaction to me speaking out in the media about avocados has been a mixed bag,” he confesses. “I was getting hate comments online, people saying things such as ‘maybe Mexicans should stop breathing’. But I also received a lot of positive reactions. One direct message was from someone who wanted a guacamole alternative to share with friends.”
The reaction among Toronto’s chefs and restaurants was equally mixed. “One of my employers (not Quetzal) took me aside and said, ‘We need to talk about what you’re posting,'”recalls Camerena. “And among some of my peers, it’s become a joke – they call me ‘the Avocado Guy’.”
At the same time, there were many chefs that, cautiously and off-the-record, cheered Camarena on. “I’d be crazy to name drop, but in private many people in the industry are saying, ‘this issue is important and it’s a good thing you went out and said what you did.”
And yet, despite their support behind the scenes, many Toronto chefs seem loathe to take a public stand against avocados. “I’ve heard concern from many cooks and chefs, but then they counter that people will pay $3 or $4 extra for guacamole so they won’t take it off the menu, which just doesn’t make sense.”