I started my career like a lot of chefs. I began by washing dishes and worked my way up. I was hungry to learn knife skills, memorize different cuts, and challenge myself to learn how to cook. My dream was to become a Sous Chef. This all was especially challenging because I didn't speak English. I immediately put myself into school, working full time concurrently. My goal was to prove to my mom that I wasn't going to waste my life.
Customers will never know the real pressure of a busy dinner service. This isn't baseball, but war. There is a barrage of things coming form you at all angles constantly and the heat (literal) is real. Published in many books and recently made famous on TV: the vulgarity is real. Its hot, dirty, gritty and offensive but it keeps our mind off the pressure of a busy service.
My father used to cook REAL traditional Mexican food for our friends and family. He passed away 22 years ago, everyday I work is for him.
Our 7-hour braised short rib sliders and wagyu house blend burger are the most popular items; basically anything that’s great to share while drinking!
I love making fish tacos, it's part of my heritage and we scrap and rework the recipe every week. We source different sea food and different vegetables from the market, and create new sauces from scratch. Today I'm using shaved brussels sprouts, blackened tempura and spicy pumpkin aioli.
Years ago I sat with a mentor and created a timeline of where I wanted to be in 20 years. It included becoming Sous Chef and traveling the world opening restaurants. It's amazing, but looking back I've opened 25 restaurants in cities all over the world as an executive chef.
Best food? Mario Batali said it best: when anyone else cooks. There's a tendency to be too critical of your own work. It's nice to just relax and help guide others into finding their own skills.
Competition is, without a doubt, the most satisfying part of being a chef in NYC. In a sea of 24,000 restaurants, there is a constant gentle pressure that moves and motivates us together forward.