Wednesday, March 3, 2010
How did I get here?
I'm the chef de cuisine of Big Star Taqueria in Chicago,IL. I was born in the United States. I have no relatives from Mexico. Up until a couple of years ago, my knowledge of the Mexican culinary pantheon was limited to the late night offerings at the local Taco Burrito King- no disrespect!
My culinary training was heavily influenced by French and Italian technique. My restaurant background is mostly new American, other than my stint at Little Caesar's in high school. How did I end up being the chef of a taco joint?
Simply put, I took a chance. I had faith in my intelligence, and culinary abilities, so I went for it. The learning curve was steep, but the research was super fun. Who wouldn't want to get their hands on as many tacos as they possibly could in a few months time? Needless to say, I ate a lot of tacos, a veritable ton of tacos. I read so much Diana Kennedy that my girlfriend started getting jealous. "Sleeping with Diana tonight?" was uttered more than once.
Testing was hard. My boss, Paul, was my toughest and most valued critic. He spent a few good years under the tutelage of Rick Bayless, a heavy hitter to say the least. Again, I went for it, I trusted my instincts. Tasting and testing went relatively smoothly, I was expecting the worst.
Opening day came quickly, and passed even quicker. I'm still standing..., and learning everyday. I don't consider myself any sort of expert on Mexican cuisine, but I possess a much greater knowledge of the Mexican kitchen than I did a couple of years ago, and continue to claw for more knowledge everyday. In a very long winded way, I'm trying to express to my fellow cooks that you can do anything you want if you put your mind and energy into it. There are no limits to what you can learn. I want to give a picture of our daily life here at the taqueria. Thanks for reading my little story, enjoy the blog.