Eduardo Garcia, the story behind success
We recommend you to watch at Netflix, ‘Ugly Delicious’, a series in which David Chang travels around the world and meets people like chef Eduardo García, owner of the restaurant Máximo Bistrot (at Roma Norte, Mexico City), who had to live a very hard life, including two deportations.
Even today, he is considered “a convicted criminal in the United States.” However, this man born in Guanajuato had to travel a long way before becoming the renowned chef he is today. As a child he spent a lot of time in the countryside, where he worked with his parents, who were illiterate as he is, he says. “I can read and write a little, but I have bad spelling,” he said in the New York Times.
When it is said that the path that led him to be a great chef was long, it is no exaggeration. During the fall, he spent a time in Florida with his family to pick fruit. After the season, they moved to Georgia to plant onions. From the southeastern state they went to northern Michigan to gather other fruits, like apples. Then they returned to the east coast, to Pennsylvania, to collect mushrooms at night. Before returning to Georgia to harvest the onions, they passed through the state of Ohio to pick cucumber. Working at such an early age left him literally marked, as he has scars from then.
If he learned anything in this period of his life, it was that he should be the best. Eduardo’s father was illiterate, yes; but he knew that children should not do those arduous tasks in the field. However, he taught his son to overcome any situation and overcome himself. In this way, at ten he already had the same salary as an adult.
In 1991 his family settled in Georgia, specifically in the city of Atlanta. His father got a job at a sports club and Eduardo also did it, but as a dishwasher in a restaurant – the Georgia Grille – thanks to some illegal documents. That job as a dishwasher only lasted six months and not because they threw him out, but promoted him. His effort was incredible and, to this day, he still is: he spends about 18 hours a day at Maximo Bistrot.
A companion of the Georgia Grille, who was the butcher of the Brasserie Le Coze, restaurant of Eric Ripert (chef and owner of Le Bernardin, with three Michelin stars), recommended him to try to work there. And he did it, and soon after he did it again, he was promoted to cook in charge of cold foods. Soon he would be promoted again, this time as a seasonal chef. Although its progress the culinary world was going by leaps and bounds, that road did not have an “end”. I enjoyed what I did, I loved it. However, when the time came, he proposed to be second in the kitchen, in order to earn more money and help his father, who was sick. He entered as a cook at another restaurant in Georgia.
He began to study in the same kitchen how he cooked, there he realized that “most books about cooking are not correct.” All his experience was in the kitchen itself, an apprenticeship “different from that of chefs who went to culinary schools,” Garcia points out. After a few months, the owners thought he was ready to be second in the kitchen, but his successful journey ended up being truncated. He started selling drugs to dishwashers – he did not consume them. But his biggest mistake happened when he helped his cousin and a friend steal at a liquor store. After the assault, he knew he had to face the consequences and turned himself in to the police. He was convicted of a serious assault.
He spent one year in a county jail and three years in a maximum security jail in South Georgia. When the Immigration Department learned of his location, he was taken to one of the worst prisons in the system, where he spent three years making car tags. At the end of 2000, he was deported to Mexico for the first time.
Two weeks later, his mother told him that his father was dying. Eduardo took a risk and bought false documents to cross the border. His father managed to live six more years, although the doctors gave him only a couple of weeks more life. To stay by his father’s side, he lied to find a job as a chef-never had been.
Seven years after being deported, Immigration agents came back for him. This time, they went to look for him where he worked. The manager was saddened by the situation, but Eduardo was ready. “Do not worry, I knew that this day would come,” he said. He spent four months in a federal jail in southern Georgia before being expelled from the United States again. Already in Mexico, he decided to stay. Between 2007 and 2011, he was head chef at the popular Pujol in Mexico City and later opened, thanks to the loan of an uncle, his own restaurant: Máximo Bistrot, where he has become the renowned chef he is today.