People of Downtown - Esaul Herrera Horcasitas

Posted on : Thursday, January 05, 2023


If you are a member of the Downtown community or frequent the Penny Coffee House, there is a high chance that you, in some way, have met Esaul. Whether you have been greeted by his kind smile as you’ve walked through the door, or bitten into one of his delicious creations, this may not be your first encounter with him. Often when you meet someone who’s day-to-day life revolves around the kitchen, they might tell you that their passion for cooking goes back to their early childhood, or that they have been practicing from a very young age; For the Esaul Herrera Horcasitas, that is not the case. 


Esaul’s passion for cooking and food came around his early 30’s when he began really cooking for himself. Having worked in the service industry and restaurants his whole life, he knew how the industry operated and how to wait tables. However, it wasn’t until the chefs whom he worked with called his attention. He began to ask how certain things were done and became fascinated with the processes and preparation of different dishes. He then brought this newfound interest into his home life and started trying different things in the kitchen. Through practice, reading, and observing, eventually he began to see progress.


Upon learning that he would be one of twelve recipients of an international labour contract at a Moxies in Lethbridge, Alberta, he began accelerating his training and kitchen knowledge so that his adjustment to the work environment at his new job would be easier. After four years of going through countless processes and paperwork, Esaul left Guadalajara, Jalisco and came to Lethbridge. He vividly recalls sitting on the plane ride to Canada, meeting someone who was embarking on the same journey as him, excited for what was to come at his new job and new home.


“It was a really great experience (at Moxies). I learned a lot. Once I got my residency, I looked for something different and worked at Heritage Lodge on 6th & 6th. I have really good memories of my time there. The kitchen served 75 residents, making three course meals. It was challenging but I learned a lot there too.”


Fast forwarding into the present day, Esaul is in his sixth year of working at the Penny Coffee House. Starting as a baker, he now manages and is responsible for all the early preparation that goes on behind the scenes, six out of the seven days of the week. Despite his schedule starting at 6:30am, Esaul arrives around 5:15 everyday because he wants to. He decides the daily special and what soup will be served, sometimes days in advance, other times within minutes. Remembering most of the recipes from off the top of his head, Esaul always strives to have a distinct selection everyday that people will not get bored of. 


“I just want people to be happy with the food and feel satisfied!”


According to Esaul, “The Penny Coffee house is a cafe with lots of tradition in this city, located Downtown. It’s known by so many people in Lethbridge, including many students who have found and chosen this place as an everyday area for them to grab a bite and study, or just have a coffee. There are many students, businessmen, or parents who come here, and whose kids now come. We’re talking three or four generations of people and families who enjoy this cafe. The owners have created such a welcoming environment for everyone. The atmosphere in the Penny makes you feel like you can come, eat something, and come back anytime. Students will bring their friends, and then those people might come back later on their own. It’s a beautiful cycle that continues and continues.” 


When asked what he does in his spare time, Esaul replied: 


“After work I go to the gym. It’s my place to relax and maintain myself healthy. After that, it’s family time. I dedicate a lot of my downtime to spending time with my son. Whether we do schoolwork together, watch tv, or any other activity we have planned, it’s family time. My whole family is in Mexico. I stay connected with them through the internet, which is fabulous. My #1 hobby is watching movies. Dramas, real life, good actors, and finding a movie that really speaks to me. I don’t really watch to criticize, it’s more just to enjoy that moment.” His favorite movie of all time is The Godfather and a movie he thinks everyone should watch is Casablanca. Back in Mexico, he spent a lot of time DJing! While he has not gotten to continue this hobby since his move, he has a wish of getting new turntables and a mixer and picking up where he left off. 


We asked Esaul if there were any last things he wanted readers to know about him, to which he replied:


“When you see me working at The Penny, know you’ll find someone who is always willing to help you. Being here in Canada I’m grateful the country has given me the opportunity to be here. Lethbridge has treated me really good. I’ve met a lot of people and the bonding and sense of community is really strong here. I thank all of Lethbridge and everyone for the opportunity to receive your kindness and friendship.”