Proof’s executive chef shares his mother’s Mexican dishes during Con Pan with Mama Laura


By Susan Stapleton, Des Moines Register

During the pandemic, when restaurants in Des Moines closed for dine-in service to slow the spread of COVID-19, Proof turned to takeout service, making sandwiches, slow-cooked brisket and tacos to go, and even offering boxes of ingredients so customers could follow a video to make the restaurant’s new American cuisine at home. Diners could order a virtual Valentine’s Day menu or scotch pairing meal and bring a taste of Proof into their own kitchens.

Last spring, just as April arrived, the restaurant returned to its regular menu, slowly bringing back its tasting menus, Second Saturday multi-course blind tastings, and a separate menu of dishes meant to share.


Now Proof tries something a little different with a pop-up restaurant that executive chef Diego Rodriguez Negrete hopes continues once a month.

On Tuesday, Proof launches Con Pan with Mama Laura, a full day of elevated Mexican cuisine featuring dishes from Rodriguez Negrete’s mother, Laura Rodriguez. She operates Mamá Laura Meals, where she makes tamales in combinations such as poblano pepper and cheese, chicken in red sauce, pork in green sauce, birria, and picadillo with shredded beef and potatoes. Her pozole, a hearty hominy stew, came out for the holidays, and she started making her own bread for tortas, the hearty sandwich with a fluffy bun.

For Con Pan, Rodriguez makes her torta de cerdo with pork and torta vegetariana with poblano peppers and mushrooms.

“We just wanted to do something different,” said Rodriguez Negrete, who plans to make tostadas with beans and cheese, pork, and ceviche, the cured fish dish.


Diners can walk in from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. to pick up chorizo beans with handmade tortillas and queso with curtidos and tostadas as well. Rodriguez Negrete learned to make tortillas from masa as a kid growing up in Jalisco, Mexico, before he moved to the United States in 2007.

Chef de patisserie Megan Snyder plans to make requesón cheesecake with a cheese similar to ricotta, but a little wetter.


“I think it gives Diego and Megan the opportunity to do … more variation from month to month,” said Joe Buckley, the general manager at Proof. “I think the tostadas are more of a staple so people always know what they can expect.”

Fans of the restaurant may recall that Proof staged a similar pop-up with Mama Laura last year in February, and she served her sopes, birria tapatia and tortas for takeout.

This time around, diners can order takeout or dine in the restaurant and order drinks from the bar.

Proof, 1301 Locust St., Des Moines; 515-244-0655.

Susan Stapleton is the entertainment editor at The Des Moines Register. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or drop her a line at [email protected].

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