When Jonathan Gold, the first food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize and a food critic for the Los Angeles Times is a fan of someone’s artistry in the kitchen, you know they’re making next level food. Like much of LA, Gold became enamored of the carefully crafted spins on Mexican moles at Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses. The name of the restaurant is not hyperbole – take one bite and Big Sean’s “Blessings” immediately starts blasting in your head, no lie. Helmed by Chef Rocio Camacho, the San Fernando Valley restaurant features traditional Mexican mole made with the love of your favorite tía, combined with unique variations on the standard dish, like passionfruit mole.
That was until Rocio’s Mole De Los Dioses was burned down by arsonists on Sunday, August 23rd.
“There are no words to accurately describe your feelings when you see your blood, sweat, and tears literally charred up in front of you,” wrote Rocio in a first-person account for Munchies, “My feelings were amplified when I saw the sign of my restaurant – which featured my name – burned down, too. It was a combination of sadness and fear. Who would do such a thing?”
After a series of robberies and a history of gang violence in the area, the acclaimed Mexican restaurant was burned to the ground, and Rocio’s lifelong dream burned with it. At the age of 9, Rocio knew she wanted to open her own restaurant to show the world mole, a central dish in Mexican cuisine. At nineteen, she came to the United States to fight for her chance to own her own restaurant, and after years of working in some of the most renowned Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles, she was finally able to open Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses in 2013.
Camacho, a native of Oaxaca (one of the towns in Mexico claiming to be the birthplace of the savory sauce in a continuous debate), calls herself a “fighter woman,” and she intends to do just that – fight furiously to get her dream back. With her business partner Alonso Arellano by her side, they plan on rebuilding the restaurant from the ground up after it was declared a total loss.
Meanwhile, the “goddess of mole” is still whipping up her famous dishes at her second location, Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen in Bell Garden. Camacho’s concerns go beyond her own well-being, as she is worried about the twenty employees who are now jobless due to the fire. Opening a food truck is one option she’s considering as they attempt to rebuild the restaurant and raise the funds to get new equipment.
In the meantime, a GoFundMe has been set up in hopes of raising enough funds to bring back this authentic slice of Mexico to the heart of Los Angeles. If someone burned my tía’s restaurant to the ground, I know I would be spreading the word of her GoFundMe account, so we’re doing so for Rocio in the name of all of our women in our lives who cook with love, authenticity, and passion.