Published on May 18th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Chef Ray Garcia On His Popular L.A. Eatery Broken Spanish & Working With Williams Sonoma
Chef Ray Garcia first made people take notice while working at FIG, which the Los Angeles Times had honored as one of the “101 Best Restaurants” in 2013. At that time, famed L.A. Times food writer Jonathan Gold said the following of Garcia: “If you could design a perfect chef for Los Angeles, he might seem a lot like Ray Garcia… Garcia’s menu manages to be satisfying to both the transgressive big-meat guys and the Gaia-conscious vegans; the carb-lovers and the gluten-free.” Garcia is at the helm of Broken Spanish, which has a popular sister restaurant in B.S. Taqueria. Simply put, Garcia has helped redefine Mexican cuisine as Angelenos know it, and people all over are watching.
In turn, it is not surprising that Williams Sonoma has chosen to partner with Chef Ray Garcia for a line of products. Now everyday people can purchase seasonings helmed by Garcia, including his Chipotle Lime Taco Seasoning and his Ancho Mushroom Taco Seasoning. I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Garcia about working with Williams Sonoma and more. Chef Ray Garcia can be visited online at www.brokenspanish.com and followed on Twitter via the username @Chef_RayGarcia.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a chef?
Chef Ray Garcia: It wasn’t until college that I discovered my love for food and cooking. I starting working in restaurants to help pay my tuition. By the time I graduated the passion for cooking had grown the point that I chose to enroll in culinary school rather than law school.
And at what point did you make the jump from being a chef to an entrepreneur?
Chef Ray Garcia: After six years as the Executive Chef of Fig, I knew that it was time for more. I love cooking, people and the business side of the industry so I decided to take that leap and start my own restaurants.
Where does the Broken Spanish brand name come from?
Chef Ray Garcia: I feel that the name Broken Spanish reflects my relationship with and approach to Mexican food and cooking. It challenges many of people’s preconceptions of the cuisine. It’s authentically-inauthentic.
Did you have a brand name in mind before going with Broken Spanish?
Chef Ray Garcia: No.
Is Mexican food in L.A. particularly different from that elsewhere in the States? Like New York, for example?
Chef Ray Garcia: Yes, just as Mexican food is different throughout Mexico. Cuisine is a product of the diversity, traditions, cultural practice, and availability of ingredients in the area. Los Angeles is very culturally-diverse, has a close geographic and historic connection to Mexico, has access to some of the best produce in the country. This is evident in my cooking.
You are also known for be sustainability-oriented as a chef. When in your career did sustainability become important to you?
Chef Ray Garcia: Sustainability has been one of the basic tenets of my cooking for about the past 15 years. As someone who relies on the environment to provide everything the I put on a plate, I feel that it is my duty to be environmentally-responsible in my practices.
How did the opportunity to work with Williams Sonoma come about?
Chef Ray Garcia: I have had an ongoing relationship with Williams Sonoma starting before Broken Spanish. They approached me almost a year ago with the thought of a line of salsa and spices. I was honored and excited by the opportunity.
Which of your products for Williams Sonoma did you come up with first?
Chef Ray Garcia: The ancho and mushroom taco season was the first. I wanted to come up with a higher quality alternative to the “taco seasonings” that you find in the yellow packets in most grocery stores.
Do you have a favorite item of the William Sonoma products you’re launching?
Chef Ray Garcia: It is a toss-up between the ancho-mushroom and the chipotle-lime.
Williams Sonoma collection aside, what is coming up for your work-wise?
Chef Ray Garcia: Not telling.
Well, when not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
Chef Ray Garcia: I love to travel with my family.
Finally, Chef Ray, any last words for the kids?
Chef Ray Garcia: It sounds cliché but, work hard and follow your dreams.