Tepex, the wildly popular food truck in Colorado Springs, and brainchild of chef proprietor Fernando Trancoso, is revered for it’s contemporary central Mexican cuisine. Immediately following our first bite of birria, we fully grasped that his food harnesses an alluring nuance, much like eating something you’re grandma made specifically with you in mind, and we hastily leapt onto the well-deserved hype train. As we have spent more time with Trancoso, we find ourselves taking away a special nugget of edible appreciation after every conversation as he openly shares his gratifying culinary experiences in casual and upscale settings, his impressive knowledge of unique ingredients and why his true passion for cooking continues to blaze onwards and upwards.

We sit down with chef Trancoso, to discuss why his food truck resonates with so many local customers, where he pulls inspiration from for his simple, yet elevated, dishes and what next for the mobile eatery that rivals sought after restaurants in Santa Fe.

Chef Fernando Trancoso, owner/operator of Tepex.

RMFR: For potential new customers, how would you describe your food?

FT: My style of cuisine is central Mexican cuisine, focused on street tacos with an emphasis on technique and flavor development.

RMFR: What pointed you towards opening a food truck versus a brick & mortar? Do you have a space in the works?

FT: First, finances. Second, the situation is still very uncertain with this virus changing every day we still don’t know what will happen next. The food truck gives me the freedom to reach different markets to get my name out which is the goal before we move into bigger things. I would love to open a restaurant in this beautiful city that has adopted me as its own. I have ideas, the equipment and areas of the Springs in mind.

RMFR: What do you think the food scene Colorado Springs is missing? How do you feel Tepex contributes to progressing our culinary culture?

FT: Being an outsider and coming from such a foodie town as Santa Fe, I really appreciate the work of local chefs. Colorado Springs has plenty of people with great talent and amazing concepts and ideas. I believe that if we all work together we can put the Springs on the foodie map. I would like my contribution to be that I’m showing a different face of what Mexican food is and can be.

RMFR: What style/region of Mexican food do you focus on? 

FT: I serve the food of central Mexico, with influences from all over. Sometimes you’ll find mole from Puebla, or Oaxaca, pibil from the peninsula, beef cheeks from the North, seafood from the Pacific or my famous huachinango a la Veracruz. I try to stay away from “authentic,” “traditional,” and “real” because everyone has their own definition of those terms.

RMFR: What are some of your most popular dishes?

FT: The birria in all different presentations: Quesabirrias, ramen, Mexican dip, my version of the French dip. I have to say that my all time favorite, and the dish that really makes me proud, are my carnitas.

RMFR: What inspires you to cook on a professional level?

FT: My boys, my culture. It’s that smile on my people when they take that first bite of their taco. I worked in taco stands in my hometown from a very young age and I learned a lot of recipes and how to respect the ingredients and cook from scratch. I always wanted to be a chef and it’s my love for good food, good wine and amazing company that keeps me inspired.

RMFR: How do you think food trucks play a pivotal role in our food culture?

FT: I opened my first food truck back in 2011, with a similar concept. I believe that especially during the closure, food trucks kept that love for great meals in people’s minds. You have actual chefs creating in some of these trucks. 

RMFR: When is your next pairing dinner at Lost Friend Brewing Co. and what details can you share about upcoming menu changes?

FT: Sunday, March 13 is my next family dinner. Then the spring menu will go live the last week of March. I’m keeping a couple of the favorites and bringing items more suitable for warmer weather. 

RMFR: What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with or to introduce to Coloradans?

FT: All the different types of chiles and their different applications, flavors, aromas. I love pork and I’ve been looking for some good quality blood sausage for my adventurous option.

RMFR: Can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up and how the people and places encouraged your culinary journey?

FT: I was born in Aguascalientes, and back in the day my home state was all about farming and agriculture. I remember playing with my brothers in the vineyards all around our little town, eating peaches, plums, pomegranate. As a kid I would help setup events at the local hacienda owned by a world famous matador. Here’s where I tried paella for the first time. That was my epiphany. After that I would watch the women in my family cook, then the taco stand came during my teenage years. After that, I migrated to Santa Fe, and worked the ladder in the front of the house of several restaurants without forgetting my love for the kitchen. I would watch the cooks work their magic and go home and recreate it. My professional background is actually fine dining management and wine program director.

RMFR: How do you hope your patrons feel when they’re eating your food?

FT: As if they went to a friend’s house for an evening of good food and good times.

Trancoso has a way of making his food, process and presentation look positively effortless all while he exudes next level hospitality that sincerely hope transitions into more stationary concepts to come. Find the Tepex truck around town, on a rotation of Colorado Springs’ craft breweries, with his weekly scheduled listed on Instagram: @tepex_by_fernando & Facebook: Tepex.

Don’t sleep on chef Trancoso’s upcoming “Family Dinner” at Lost Friend Brewing Co. on Sunday, March 13, 5-8 PM. Tickets are available to purchase HERE for $50 (+$18 for three beer pairings, *gratuity not included) as of Tuesday, March 1. Past dinners have sold out quickly so we highly recommend snagging your seats pronto.

*All images courtesy of ECosta Photo