If you are expecting exposés on cat and dog food being used as meat substitutes, grimy, windowless communist blocks and what might or might not be a rat, Cali-Mex's factory will come as a sharp surprise.
Light and airy, with cleaner floors than most kitchens we've seen, ingredients are constantly being delivered, chopped, vacuum packed, slow cooked, boxed, seasoned, stirred, grilled, organised and sent out by staff who look as though they would be at home on the cold section of a restaurant.
The factory that is located over two floors in a warehouse out the back of Aberdeen is bustling. When Jeff (owner) took out the lease of a whole floor at the beginning of Cali-Mex's journey people thought him mad. "What do you need a whole floor for when you haven't even got a restaurant yet". One year and 11 stores later, they have need to occupy the floor below to make room for the extensive amounts of ingredients coming in each month as well as an Asia-exclusive corn tortilla making machine (which means gluten free tacos are just around the corner).
Of the two shipments of vegetables which are flown out from Australia each week–which come in at a hefty three tonnes each–a crew of 15 converge on the fresh produce, either shredding and vacuum packing it if it is lettuce (all 1400kgs of it), grilling it on a Josper grill if it is chicken or beef, gently simmering it with rich aromatics if it is beans or slow-cooking and then pulling it apart by hand if it is pork.
Back on tortillas; on average the Cali Mex tortilla team (who work 10pm to 7am to ensure fresh tortillas in the morning) is able to handmake 1500 12' tortillas and 1700 6' tortillas 250 10' tortillas daily. They make the dough, use a tortilla maker to press the dough, and then send them on their way to a conveyor belt which cooks them to chewy, wheaty perfection. It's all very Los Tacos but on a larger scale and having sampled one warm, straight off the conveyor belt, and let's just say we are glad we do not have a giant conveyor belt making these for us or we would be consuming them at the rate of 1700 per day also.
400 kilos of Tahitian limes and 1100 kilos of tomatoes pass through the doors each week, in addition to the 10 tonnes of Australian pork, chicken and beef every month.
Oh, and of course the 1000kgs of avocadoes; perhaps the most important ingredient in all of our lives.