JEFFREY FREBURG: Welcome,
everyone. I want to introduce Chef Jose. Thanks for coming
to Google today. JOSE GARCES: It’s a pleasure
to be here. Thank you. JEFFREY FREBURG: So let us
know about your new book. Tell us about the book. JOSE GARCES: The book is called
“The Latin Rode Home,” and it’s my second cookbook. The first cookbook that
I launched was “Latin Evolution” in 2008. And the book is really a much
stripped down version. It’s not “Latin Evolution,”
it’s like what “Latin Evolution” became. So it’s those recipes that
really turned into the “Latin Evolution.’ It’s also a travelogue. It’s a memoir of five Spanish
speaking countries that inspired my cooking for
the last 10 years. JEFFREY FREBURG: OK. So I know that you have
15 restaurants now. Tell us about how you opened
your first restaurant, and about scaling so many
restaurants in such a short amount of time, which is
pretty impressive. JOSE GARCES: Yeah. So my first restaurant, Amada,
opened in 2005, and I basically opened that with a
small business loan, a couple private equity investors,
and we were able to pull it together. And Amada had quite a bit of
success, and from that came many opportunities, and I also
had several other concepts that I had brewing in my mind. So with the opportunities, we
looked at ways to develop these concepts, and the
rest is history. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah,
so like I said, you’ve scaled so quickly. What kind of challenges have
you had in scaling so many restaurants in such a short
amount of time? JOSE GARCES: There’s usually
your typical construction. And then with leases and
negotiations, that sort of business constraints. But for the most part,
it’s been a pretty smooth and easy ride. I think, yeah, I feel pretty
fortunate about that. JEFFREY FREBURG: OK. So do you work with a design
team to come up with interior designs? How much of an influence
do you have on that? And what do you focus on when
you’re thinking about your next concept? JOSE GARCES: Well, I have a
design firm that I’ve worked with since we started
Amada in 2005. They’re called Creme Design,
and they’re out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And the chief designer,
Jun Aizaki, is now a close friend of mine. We’ve designed probably
85% of my restaurants has been with Creme. And so we usually would walk
the spaces together. We might travel somewhere. So, for instance, in order to
design Amada, we were in San Sebastian and Barcelona, and
started to really get a look and feel for the cuisine
and the culture and the different– and really, really to capture
that feeling of a Spanish Tapas restaurant. For Distrito, our Mexican
concept– modern Mexican concept– Jun and I both traveled to
Mexico City, and we brought back some of the flash, the
glamour, the energy from Mexico City to design
Distrito. So those types of travel
experiences and working hand in hand with Jun for many years
has given us the ability to design some pretty
neat spaces. JEFFREY FREBURG: So I just want
to go back a little ways. How did you get involved
in cooking? JOSE GARCES: I always enjoyed
cooking as a kid. My mom and my grandma were
fantastic cooks. They cooked great meals for us
at home growing up, and it was typically an Ecuadorian meal. So I had that kind of
Latin upbringing. And with time, I went to two
years of undergrad, and still hadn’t really found something
that was driving me or a passion at that point,
and I realized that I enjoyed cooking. So I visited a culinary school
in Chicago called Kendall College, and kind of like the
minute I got there I enjoyed seeing the discipline
that was involved– the white coats, the
tall white hats, that sort of thing. And it was just like, it
just felt right to me. JEFFREY FREBURG: So are there
are certain things that your mom made that are just that go
to meal for you or anything? Or anything that kind of really
focused you on cooking? JOSE GARCES: I think that there
were several experiences that I had growing up, whether
it was having empanadas on Sunday watching a Bears game– I grew up in Chicago– or having had this
[? locro, ?] which is an Ecuadorian potato
chowder with avocado, poached egg, pork skins that are cooked
into the chowder. I would say those are just two
examples of hearty, wholesome dishes that always bring me back
to my childhood and have inspired me to this day. JEFFREY FREBURG: So
where are most of your restaurants located? JOSE GARCES: Well, my home base
is in Philadelphia, and that’s kind of where we started,
and so we have seven restaurants in Philadelphia. I have a restaurant in Chicago
called Mercat A La Planxa. And this year, we did a big
push, and we do the food and beverage management of two
hotels, one in Scottsdale, Arizona called the Saguaro, we
have a Distrito and Old Town whiskey there. And in Palm Springs, we have
Tinto, which is our Basque tapas brand, and El Hefe, a new
tequila and taco concept. JEFFREY FREBURG: See, the reason
I was asking why so many restaurants are in
Pennsylvania is because I’m a Chicago boy, so how come– are you going to plan on putting
more restaurants in Chicago, or– JOSE GARCES: Yeah, we
really like Chicago. I mean, I get there at least
four or five times a year for the restaurant. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah. It’s a great restaurant
town, too. JOSE GARCES: It’s a great
restaurant town. I’ve known it for years. We just haven’t focused our
energy on it, but it’s top of the list right now. JEFFREY FREBURG: And can you
tell us some of your favorite restaurants in Chicago? JOSE GARCES: Sure. I have a good friend who I
worked with on the National Pork Board. We were both celebrity chef
ambassadors, pork lovers, and his name is Paul Kahan, and
he has some of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. He has Publican, he’s got a
great taco and whiskey concept called Big Star, and
Avec, as well. So I like his places. And when I get to Chicago,
I also– right down the street from
Mercat, which is located on the South loop, I go to kind of
an English pub called the Gauge, which is just homey
and a favorite. And of course the Wiener
Circle as well. JEFFREY FREBURG: That’s the
best place for a hotdog. JOSE GARCES: Yeah. JEFFREY FREBURG: So when was the
last time you cooked for your family, and what are
some of the go to meals that you prepare? JOSE GARCES: So typically, we
cook on Saturday and Sunday. When I say we, my wife
and I, Beatrice. She’s of Cuban descent. So that’s our favorite time to
bond, to kind of spend some good family time. And so we’ll do some menu
planning, and she’ll actually do a lot of the prep. So she’ll get her board, get
her knife out, and once the prep is done, I’ll end
up cooking it all. JEFFREY FREBURG: So that
works out pretty well. JOSE GARCES: Yeah, no, it’s
actually a great team effort, and again, I think a great
family activity. And lately, some of our most
memorable meals have been at our farm, which we’ve had
for about two years. It’s north of Philadelphia
in Bucks county. It’s a 40 acre farm. We have about a seven acre
garden, which we planted, and we are raising vegetables,
produce, chickens, bees, grown mushrooms. And all that produce is going
to the restaurants in Philadelphia and
Atlantic City. So some of my most memorable
family meals have been there. We have this outdoor kitchen,
and it’s just really about eating super healthy, super
light, very fresh. And they’ve been right
off the farm, yeah. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah. So I love the farm concept that
you really incorporate into your restaurants,
and that’s something that we do here. Why did you decide to go that
route, which I really respect? What was your driving
factor with that? JOSE GARCES: Well, to be honest,
I was looking for a second home, and somewhere
that I could retreat to. And we really– most people in Philly do the
Jersey Shore, like, head down to the shore. I was looking for something a
little more relaxing, and so I looked in Bucks County, and I
just found a lot of these farm properties that were
available. And it was hard to find the
property that had the retreat and the farming peace, and we
were fortunate to find one. And so once we got it, was
really just going to be a second home, but I saw the farm,
saw the garden, and my natural instincts took over. And before we knew it, we had
invested in deer fencing, a new well, a tractor, an
organic farm crew that’s there every day. And it’s become quite an
undertaking, and one that I’m proud of and look forward
to seeing the results in the future. JEFFREY FREBURG: So
how big is it? I know you mentioned it earlier
but– and are there any plans to expand that? JOSE GARCES: Currently it’s
seven acres, and we farm– it’s a seven acre garden, and
this year was more of like a testing period, where we had
about 100 different varieties of whether it was peppers,
herbs, micrograins. The thought was to see what the
soil would give so we had a real accurate plan
for next year. But in addition to the produce,
we have bees that are producing honey that pollinate
the crops. JEFFREY FREBURG: And you can use
that in your restaurant? JOSE GARCES: Could use that
in the restaurants. We have these different logs
that it’s more of a log mushroom farm. And we also put in a pretty big
greenhouse, so I’m excited to see what we can do there
in the wintertime. And the thought is, and thus far
this year we’ve been able to do two deliveries per week
into the 10 restaurants. So we have seven restaurants in
Philadelphia and three in Atlantic City, which is just
another hour south. So it’s been a pretty
successful program. And it’s also forced our chefs
to kind of really be local, and really get creative with
some of the varieties of vegetables and herbs that
we were growing. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah. So how much produce comes from
your gardens that you can use in your restaurant? Is it 10%, 20%? JOSE GARCES: It’s probably– this year I would say it’s
been about 25% to 35%. JEFFREY FREBURG: And so with
the addition of the greenhouse, do you have a set
plan of what you want to grow in there, or what you’re
going to try? JOSE GARCES: Yeah. Well, we use typically– some of my favorite micrograins
are micro-arugula, micro-basil, micro-cilantro. And so we think that we can have
a good yield on those, and they’re ones that can
be quite pricey as you start to like– JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah, I know. JOSE GARCES: And then in the
spring, we’ll probably start all our seedlings there. But to be honest, it’s
an evolving process. It’s an evolving process to
find out what the right financial solutions are to
making it a sustainable farm. So we’re under, we’re in that
mode right now, and I’d also like to eventually have goats
and make goat cheese. It’s one of my favorite
cheeses. But first things first. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah. So do you know what you’re going
to try to plant next year, and what didn’t
work this year? JOSE GARCES: We had some soil
erosion issues, which– when it rained, water pockets
collected in certain areas and drowned some of the plants
that we had. So we have to grade our soil
a little better this year, create some drainage. And so that was a learning
experience for me. That was one where we
just didn’t see it coming, and it happened. So we’re looking to
improve that. And I think for the most part,
everything we put in the ground worked. Potatoes didn’t work, and we
had a rough time with some melons and certain varieties
of tomatoes. But for the most part,
everything we put in worked, and it was, again,
quite abundant. We had about 1,000 pounds that
we were harvesting a week at a certain point. JEFFREY FREBURG: Really? That’s impressive. JOSE GARCES: Not bad
for Pennsylvania. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah,
no, definitely. Definitely. So everyone always wants
to know this. What are some of your favorite
kitchen tools? And if you were to assemble a
knife kit that really boils it all down to, what’s in there? JOSE GARCES: Well, I think
having sharp knives is the most important thing. And I have a Mac– Mac knife, it’s a
Japanese brand– which I really like. It’s an eight inch,
really versatile. It can do vegetables, you could
clean fish with it. And I keep it super sharp. So I think the chef’s knife is
the most important piece of equipment you can have. A good cutting board. But I like gadgets, too, so– JEFFREY FREBURG: Do you have
a favorite gadget? JOSE GARCES: Well, I recently
started cooking more with my kids. I have a nine and a five
year old, and they really enjoy the kitchen. And again, it’s a great
time for us to bond. So I’ve set up my kitchen
a little more usable. In the past, my home
kitchen was– it was there, but I cooked in
the restaurant, so I wasn’t really like at home
doing it as much. But now that they’re into it,
I’ve bought some tools. And actually my Kitchenaid
mixer is a great versatile tool. I mean, from making
ice cream to– I could do an ad for Kitchenaid
right now. JEFFREY FREBURG: That’s great. JOSE GARCES: But we make fresh
pasta, we make ice cream in it, fresh doughs, pizza dough. So it’s been a great tool. And I haven’t discovered
it as much as I have in the last year. JEFFREY FREBURG: So I just want
to talk a little about kitchen design. So is there anything that you
have learned designing kitchen to kitchen? JOSE GARCES: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. I think the most important thing
is having a definite idea of your– let’s just say professional
kitchen, right? So if you’re designing a
professional kitchen, really having the concept
and the menu down before you design is– I mean, it seems like a basic
thing, but sometimes if you’re doing a new concept, the menu
could evolve, it could change, and that will totally change
the flow of the kitchen. So kitchen flow is really vital,
and so if you have your menu in place, and really
thinking through the flow process, how things are produced
and how they’re turned out is super important. So I’m actually designing
a quick serve Peruvian rotisserie chicken place. And the menu– at first we were like, OK, just Peruvian rotisserie chicken. And then we thought, well, how
about empanadas as well? And then we’re like, well, we
might want to add, like, beef ropa vieja or something. So the menu has evolved, and as
the menu has evolved, the kitchen design has continued
to evolve. And as long as before you bid it
or have anyone do any work on this kitchen you have that
flow, that’s the most important thing. JEFFREY FREBURG: So what do
you think the commercial kitchen of the future
looks like? Are we going to be only
cooking on electric? Are we going to be
using an oven? What are your thoughts
on that? JOSE GARCES: Well, I think it’s
pretty dependent on the type of operation and the type
of commercial application. I think for me, I’m actually in
the process of designing a pretty evolved kitchen. And I have several different
pieces of equipment that I’m bringing in. It’s going to be a small
restaurant in Philadelphia of probably only about 25 to 30
seats, in which I’m looking to do one seating per night and
really turn out what I think is like, the most epic meal
that I could produce. So in this application, I’m
going for a island style kitchen with several different
types of equipment. A [? sieve app ?] which is a– You’re familiar with
a [? sieve app? ?] JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah. JOSE GARCES: A piece of
equipment that can cook to a specific temperature and steam,
and really just cooks a protein to its perfect
temperature. I have a piece of equipment
called the [? josper. ?] JEFFREY FREBURG: OK, that
I haven’t heard about. JOSE GARCES: Which is a solid
fuel encased cabinet style grill, almost like
a [? plancher ?] with solid fuel on the bottom,
so you get wood and smoke. And then there’s other pieces,
like [INAUDIBLE] cooking, circulators,
just to name a few. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah. So we really try to incorporate
green aspects into all of our buildings
and kitchens. Is that something that
you do as well? JOSE GARCES: Yeah. I think as much as possible, I
think from a sustainability point of view, we’re looking
to incorporate the farm in terms of how we operate. So right now, all of our fryer
grease from all the restaurants in Philadelphia is
being turned into biodiesel fuel and soap for
the restaurants. The restaurants are also
composting, so we’re taking those vegetable scraps
up to the farm and turning it into compost. And those type of sustainable
practices. In terms of building, we’re not
100% there yet, for sure. JEFFREY FREBURG: Right. So I just want to take you
back to San Francisco. How long are you here for? JOSE GARCES: Well,
I’ve been here– I was here yesterday, and
I leave tomorrow night. So about three full days
in San Francisco. And I could say it’s been
a great time thus far. I love the city, I love
the energy of it. It seems really dynamic. And I had a great meal at
Manresa last night. JEFFREY FREBURG: That was my
next question– where are you going to eat tonight, and what
are some of your favorite spots here? JOSE GARCES: Well, thus far, we
made a point to make it to Manresa last night,
which was amazing. David Kinch cooked a fantastic
meal for us, which was probably around 15
or 20 courses. I don’t remember. I lost track. But pretty epic meal,
really delicious, really natural flavors. I was pretty inspired by his
subtlety, and his also unique flavor combinations. And then, let’s see. So a few recommendations that
I’ve had– we’re going to Quince tonight, which I
heard is pretty good. And then we’re going to State
Bird tomorrow, which I think Bon Apetit gave it a
best new in the US. And I think Mission Chinese for
lunch tomorrow as well. So how’s that list? JEFFREY FREBURG: Good list. JOSE GARCES: Good list? OK. Let me know if there’s anything
else I should hit. JEFFREY FREBURG: Well,
there’s a lot. I’m sure they’ll tell you. I just want to open up
to the audience. Any questions from
the audience? JOSE GARCES: So if you have a
limited budget and you have a stove, a fridge, you like
the basic equipment– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] JOSE GARCES: Got it. Well, I think the best place,
I know for me in New York, there’s the Bowery district,
which has old restaurant equipment, things
that are used. I mean, those things will last a
lifetime, so I think you can get the most bang
for your buck. I don’t know what’s here
in San Fran, but– is there, like, a used
restaurant depot? JEFFREY FREBURG:
Yes, there is. Are there any specific
pieces of equipment that you’d recommend? Any kind of cookware that you
recommend without giving an endorsement? JOSE GARCES: I would say
definitely get a good quality cutting board, because
I feel like that’s– if you have one that has a lot
of surface area, a really good knife, I think pots– yeah, a few solid like– a stock pot, a really good cast
iron, a sautee pan, and that’s only like $100. JEFFREY FREBURG: And
a Kitchenaid. JOSE GARCES: You need a
Kitchenaid or a blender. AUDIENCE: Well, the Kitchenaid
[INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: What do you think the
impact of media and just– it seems like America
is becoming more of a culinary culture. How do you think that’s
changing? JOSE GARCES: Sure. Well, when I was in culinary
school, and I started culinary school in 1993, there was Emeril
Lagasse, Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, and they were
like the culinary TV superstars. And they were just doing kind
of, they call it in our profession dump and stir
shows, where it’s just kind of a how to. And obviously, it’s evolved
tremendously over the last 20 years. I’ve seen some impact on food
TV just inspiring the youth, where we have tons of younger
fans who are really into the cooking shows, but also
just are more knowledgeable about food. So that can only make for
better eating, hopefully healthier eating going
down the road. And I think it’s just going
to continue to evolve tremendously. JEFFREY FREBURG: Do you care to
talk about your experience on “Iron Chef” a little
bit more? Is it really, like,
pressure intense? I mean, what’s it really
like on stage? JOSE GARCES: Yes. So “Iron Chef” has been an
incredible experience. I won the second season on 2009
of “Next Iron Chef.” I challenged nine other
competitors, came out on top. But then we started competing on
a regular basis as an “Iron Chef,” and it’s the most fun
thing I’ll do all year. It’s also the most intense
period of the year. The battles are really tough. You’re in a place that has
lots of lights, it’s hot, there’s fire everywhere, there’s
another chef who wants to take you out, and so I get
psyched out about it. I get into it. So it’s been a great
experience. Also, the creativity that it
spurs during that period of the year has really been great,
because then we’re able to take those creative
dishes and– JEFFREY FREBURG: Put
them on the menu. JOSE GARCES: Put them on
the other menus, yeah. So it’s been a great
period of time. JEFFREY FREBURG: And then so
on the “Iron Chef” do you always keep the same team? JOSE GARCES: The team has
evolved every year. And so the first couple years,
I had a mixture of my different chef de cuisines,
and I kind of rotated everybody around. But this last year, I decided
to go with just one team. It was like a powerhouse team,
like my best culinary person, Michael Fiorello, my best
corporate pastry chef, Jessica [? Magardo, ?] and so the three of us were
really able to put on a show this year. So I’m excited about this year’s
season as it airs. JEFFREY FREBURG: OK, so can you
give us any hints on this year’s season, or– JOSE GARCES: Let’s see. If you want to pay my $2
million confidentiality agreement, I’m happy
to tell you. JEFFREY FREBURG: I don’t,
personally, so I’m going to pass on that. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: I did have another
question about “Iron Chef,’ too. Could you comment about the role
of improv when you create the dishes? Like, how you practice that,
how it’s made its way into your restaurants? JOSE GARCES: Yeah, well, I
think for the most part, before we go on the show, we’ll
do some mock battles. So I go on the show with kind of
an idea of how we can apply these different menus to
the secret ingredient. And then lately, there’s been
some curves that they’ve thrown at us on the show, and
so, like anything in life, we improvise and it’s been– yeah. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah, he’s
tied to a confidentiality agreement, so– AUDIENCE: Do you find yourself
improving more in the kitchen in Philly now as a result? JOSE GARCES: No, I don’t
think we do. I think that we’re actually
planning more and becoming more diligent about our development, and I’ve actually– so with all the different
restaurants and all the many concepts that we have, it’s hard
to create and evolve the menus on a regular basis
the way I’d like to. So this year we’ve taken an
approach to creating a development team that really
helps us push all of the menus forward and evolve. And in our business, which is
really competitive and tough and always moving, we’re finding
that it’s important to continue to evolve, stay fresh,
and that’s kind of where we are with it. AUDIENCE: All right, I
have two questions. The first one is what
is your favorite non Latin cuisine and why? And the second question, if
you were to die today or tonight, what would be
your last supper? JOSE GARCES: Mm, okay. Favorite non-Latin. That’s a tough one, because
I’m a fan of cuisines. I was in France this year,
and had amazing– I was in Provence and
Paris, had amazing French meals, more rustic. I love Asian food. We’ve been doing a lot of
research on Chinese cooking lately, so it’s been a huge
learning experience. And so that’s been part of my
journey throughout all of this is to explore different
cuisines, different cultures and so I don’t know that
I have a favorite one. I mean, Italian is always
a standby, in my household, anyway. We’re big pasta lovers. JEFFREY FREBURG: I’m
from Chicago, too. It’s kind of– JOSE GARCES: Yeah, exactly. And so if I were to die today, I
think if I had a meal that I wanted, I’d probably ask my
mom to make her empanadas. They’re just so tasty, they’re
good, they bring back such great memories for me. AUDIENCE: So I have a question
about when you guys are developing a new concept with
your team, and you’re traveling to a new country, your
book covers a bunch of different countries. So I’m wondering how you guys
approach a new concept when you’re, say, visiting
a new country. Do you go there with no research
and just sort of hit the streets and see
what’s out there? Do you focus more on the higher
end restaurants to see what people are eating? Or do you just try to wander
around and see what people are eating, and then find
inspiration through that? JOSE GARCES: That’s a great
question, and I’ll give you a great example of how our
research has evolved into something that it is now. So we opened a restaurant
called Chifa in Philadelphia in 2009. It’s a Peruvian Cantonese
fusion. And we went to travel there, and
I went there in hopes of finding this true fusion. I’d heard of it, and what I
found was Chinese restaurants in Peru using Peruvian
ingredients with some Chifa-esque dishes. But we really didn’t
find a true fusion. And we looked and looked
and couldn’t find it. What I found was several
other things. Great Peruvian food– I found a gastronomic capital of
South America, some really great chefs who have really
evolved the cuisine there. And so we came back to
Philadelphia with really not much, and really we took it
upon ourselves to do this marriage of Peruvian and
Chinese cuisine. And with some success. Fusion cuisine, I would say, is
a difficult thing to truly master and do very well in. And for a cuisine to
be highly accepted. You don’t go out and say, I
think I’m going to have Peruvian Chinese tonight. So it’s been quite a journey,
but the research for that was pretty fun and insightful. JEFFREY FREBURG: So do you ever
plan on opening an Asian concept specifically, or what’s
on the horizon for you? JOSE GARCES: Currently on the
horizon is [? Volvere, ?] which is going to be my 25 seat
epic Jose does the best meal that he can, and I really
want to bring back this idea of high level service. I feel like it’s kind
of left for several years for many reasons. And so that’s my exploration of
molecular gastronomy, and how I would apply it to my
food is what I’m going to focus on immediately
next year. And then I’m working on a few
quick service concepts. So applying what I’ve learned
over the past 10 years and putting it into a form which
can be accessible, fast, fresh, delicious. AUDIENCE: I don’t know if you’re
aware, but California recently banned foie gras. I’m curious what your thoughts
are on that issue, and what you would do if you had a
restaurant here where you wanted to serve foie gras. JOSE GARCES: Yeah, it is a
pretty controversial topic, and several folks take several
sides of the story. I would say currently, we had a
lot of issues with foie gras in Philadelphia as well. We had a lot of protests,
and folks wanting it off our menus. So we actually obliged
everybody and took it off the menus. And you know, personally, I
can’t say that I have a problem with it. I actually have a friend who’s
a farmer in New York– upstate New York. He owns Hudson Valley
Foie Gras– Michael [? Genore. ?] And I know that he practices
humane approaches to raising his animals. And so that’s kind of
where I stand on it. But we did take it off just
to keep things cool. We’re in the restaurant
business, and we’re there to feed people and give great
hospitality and service. And so to be honest, my approach
is not really to get involved in much controversy. JEFFREY FREBURG: Are there any
other things that you don’t serve on your menu? Do you serve veal? JOSE GARCES: We don’t serve
veal, not because we think it’s inhumane, because
it really doesn’t sell in our markets. AUDIENCE: One of the most fun
parts when watching “Iron Chef” is when someone takes a
ridiculous ingredient and puts it into the ice cream machine. Do you have any fun ice cream
machine stories, either something that turned out to be
surprisingly tasty or not? JOSE GARCES: I think we made a
trout ice cream once, and it actually was pretty good. It wasn’t too bad. We’re also– I’m not a pastry chef, so making
ice cream requires some deft of hand. And I think there was one point
where we were making truffle ice cream, and it
overchurned, and it became truffle butter all
of a sudden. So it was kind of like that
improvisation that you were talking about earlier. AUDIENCE: So I know
you have two kids. I was wondering if they have any
favorite dishes that you cook a lot for them, or are
their culinary tastes just as diverse as yours? JOSE GARCES: Oh, gosh. Well, both of my children,
they’re nine and five, so they’re at that stage where
they’re continuing to discover flavors, textures. And so we emphasize vegetables
and eating healthy and that sort of thing. And there’s always the struggle
that occurs at the kitchen table. And so we cut deals on
a regular basis. Like, okay, you can– AUDIENCE: Cut deals. That sounds interesting. JOSE GARCES: Yeah. You can have this, but you’re
going to have to have your steamed broccoli. But I think their exposure to
all of this is only going to be great for them. I’d cook breakfast for
them every morning. It’s kind of our family time
that we get, because I’m sometimes busy at night,
or I’m traveling. That’s a part of the day
that I always try to connect with them. And so we have full on breakfast
spread that occurs at the Garces family
household. Around 7:00, there can be
anything from pancakes to [INAUDIBLE] to waffles to sheared eggs. [INTERPOSING VOICES] JOSE GARCES: Sure. And so that’s a meal
where I think creativity comes into play. And I have fun connecting with
them on that level, too. JEFFREY FREBURG: So real quick,
how much of a role has technology and social media
played in your restaurants, and how do you feel about
that these days? JOSE GARCES: Well, I think it’s
change the way we market our restaurants quite a bit,
and there’s a whole– I think 10 years ago, there was
a way a marketing team or program would occur for
a set of restaurants. So that’s totally out the
window at this point. And I think that now, as we
market our restaurants, there has to be a social media
side of things. And I think it’s really
impactful. I think it can really do good
for those on the fly stories– things that are, like,
happening now. And I’m curious to see how
will go in the future. It’s always changing,
evolving. And from a business side, I
think could be a great tool. JEFFREY FREBURG: So do you
have a G+ account? JOSE GARCES: I believe
so, yeah. JEFFREY FREBURG: OK,
great answer. Perfect. AUDIENCE: I have two
more questions. What’s your favorite midnight
snack, or anything that you go for from your fridge
that’s always available and always there? Second question, if you want to
impress someone with like the best thing they’ve ever
had, like blow their mind, what would you make? JOSE GARCES: OK, wow. All right. Midnight snack. Look at this. I can’t be eating at midnight. But I would say if there’s a
slice of pizza in the fridge– I’m a pizza fanatic– that’ll be something that we’re
always ordering pizza, so there’s usually couple
slices in there. So I’ll heat it in the
oven and have that. If not, a piece of fruit
will be sufficed. But I think, let me go to
your next question. So blow somebody’s mind–
something I would cook– oh, wow. OK. I’ve been married for 10 years
now, so I haven’t had to go that route in some time. Usually we’ll go somewhere. But let me think about
this for a minute. That’s a good question. You caught– my wife’s gonna
kill me on this one. I’m a fan of raw fish, so going
out and finding, like– and we have access to
great ingredients. So possibly maybe some tuna
toro or otoro with caviar. I really enjoy having
a true caviar experience once in a while. A lot of times, you’ll get
caviar, and it’s in small, small doses. If you can swing it, get a big
tin, get some [INAUDIBLE], a nice bottle of champagne,
and just indulge. JEFFREY FREBURG: So in your
restaurants, do you focus on sustainable fish? JOSE GARCES: Yes. It hasn’t been a primary focus,
but we certainly like to practice sustainability
in terms of seafood. JEFFREY FREBURG: OK. All right, yes? AUDIENCE: Just because I like
the questions that keep putting on the spot. You’re on “Iron Chef,” they’re
about to pull the tablecloth back and reveal the
secret ingredient. What is the best dream
ingredient you could possibly see under there, and what is
your worst nightmare to see under there? JOSE GARCES: Best dream
ingredient is pork belly, because we’ve been cooking
it for years now. We have that set. I think worst ingredient– I don’t know that I
have an awful one. I’m a fan of all ingredients,
and I think my job for the last 20 years was learn how to
take something from a raw state and make it delicious. So there’s nothing, really,
that would offend me. Stinky tofu, maybe. AUDIENCE: Jelly beans? JOSE GARCES: Jelly beans. You know, when they start
incorporating, like, candy, and like weird stuff into the
show, it kind of offends me. You’re right. JEFFREY FREBURG: Anyone else? OK, yes? AUDIENCE: Hi. One of the challenges I’ve
always had trying to follow a recipe is not having all
the ingredients. So for example, smoked Spanish
sweet paprika is not something that I would have
in my cupboard. So I find myself often
substituting or altogether skipping ingredients. As a professional chef, how do
you feel about people doing that to your very well
crafted recipes? JOSE GARCES: I think that it
occurs, and I understand that, due to time restraints,
et cetera. But I think in “The Latin Road
Home,” we include a sources and substitutions list, so there
you’ll find where to go get the sweet smoked paprika,
or what to use if you can’t find it. So we’ve thought about that, and
I think it is important, though, to get the right
ingredients, because they make or break the dish. One ingredient might, like,
twist it one way or the other. AUDIENCE: OK, you’ve
got this book here. What would you recommend– what would be the first two
things they should go make in this book? JOSE GARCES: First two things. OK, there is the [? Nikkei ?] style ceviche out of
the Peru chapter. It’s really tasty, very simple,
and easy to make. And then I would say the
Ecuadorian fritata, which is a roast pork and hominy salad. Quite delicious. JEFFREY FREBURG: Yeah, so what
was your favorite country on your travels? Like, where did you love
the food the most? JOSE GARCES: Good question. I’ve been a fan of Spanish
cuisine for a long time, and I think I’ve traveled there the
most out of all the countries, because you can get such great
rustic tapas experiences, as well as this other high end
gastronomic adventure. So I found that Spain was
one of the best places. It continues to inspire me. I’m going back this year– this coming year in January to
continue to get inspiration for my newest concept. JEFFREY FREBURG: OK. And then is there one dish that
you’re like, oh my god, I have to go to this country
and have this dish? JOSE GARCES: Yeah. I went to Peru, and I wanted
to have the cuy, which is guinea pig– roast guinea pig. And I’ve always heard about
it, and I wanted to just experience it. And what I found was crispy,
almost like [INAUDIBLE]. Fatty, but pretty
flavorful meat. And that was an interesting
experience. JEFFREY FREBURG: All right,
well, thanks. Any other questions? All right. Well, I know that he has time to
sign some books, so thanks for coming. I really appreciate it. JOSE GARCES: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you all very much.