jose-garces

Foodie Heaven

Chef Jose Garces will bring his Latin influence to the Citi Taste of Tennis where food is served center court.

Tiffany Carter BNP, Restaurants

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Chef Jose Garces will cook up Tortilla Española and a Spanish tuna dish at Citi Taste of Tennis.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CITI TASTE OF TENNIS

And you thought Ramen was just something starving college students ate.

Chef Jose Garces has found an affinity for the dish, enough that it’s currently what you’ll find him cooking at home for family. But not dorm room style.

“Lately I’ve been into making really good ramen broth with slow cooked chicken,” he says. “I found these great Tokyo noodles I enjoy. Slow poached egg, I get some veggies in there, asparagus, a little bit of mori tofu. That’s what I’ve been into. I go through phases.

Garces, who once had a restaurant presence in Palm Springs at the Saguaro Hotel, is returning to the desert to participate in one of its tastiest events - Citi’s Taste of Tennis. This second edition of foodie heaven is March 5 at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa and coincides with the start of the BNP Paribas Open.

Garces, a James Beard award winner, will join chef Richard Blais as the headliners at Citi Taste of Tennis. He talked with Palm Springs Life about the latin dishes he will prepare for hungry tennis voyeurs; his Garces Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that Philadelphia’s underserved immigrant community has access to health and educational services, and his grandmother’s influence in his cooking.

How would you describe your culinary style?

Creative, inventive, but really based on my latin roots. I was born and raised in Chicago from Ecuadorian parents, but my latin roots kind of inform my cooking.

What specific influences have remained with you in learning how to cook from your grandmother that are in your cooking today?

The biggest influence my grandma taught me was flavor and really training my palate to have that savory element. Like a sofrito. You cooked down onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes and that flavor she used throughout her cooking. She taught me depth of flavor and that’s always stayed with me.

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PHOTO COURTESY JOSE GARCES ON FACEBOOK

Chef Jose Garces will prepare a pair of dishes at Citi Taste of Tennis on March 5 at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa.

How did you get involved with Citi Taste of Tennis event?

My good friend, John Mooney is a chef that has worked with Citi on many other events. John and I go way back to our culinary school days over 20 years ago. I’ve been a participant in Taste of Tennis in New York several years ago, so it was good to reunite with the event.

Tell us a little about what you'll be cooking up at the Citi Taste of Tennis? Why did you pick this dish?

For the Cooking demo, Tortilla Española – Chistorra sausage, salsa brava, garlic aioli and chistorra is a type of cured Spanish sausage that really imparts a smoky, hearty flavor to the traditional tortilla española. For the Taste Around Bonito del Norte Montadito – Spanish tuna, capers, radish. Canned Spanish seafood is a delicacy unto itself.  If it’s fished from the seas, chances are the Spanish have found a delicious way to preserve it in a can or jar. One of my favorite varieties is bonito del norte tuna packed in oil - it's dense, flavorful, and delightfully rich.

Is there a difference between East Coast compared to the West Coast when it comes to Latin cuisine?

I don’t know if there’s a difference in Latin cuisine more as there is in terms of ingredients and cooking styles. The West Coast is a bounty of great ingredients from the sea and the land, whereas the East Coast we have to import some things and seasonally we have some great local ingredients as well. It’s just different in terms of the procurement of your ingredients. It’s night and day.

Tell us why you started the Garces Foundation, and given the current political climate around immigration has it become harder to achieve your mission or is it making the difference you had hoped for?

Yes, it is making a difference. I noticed there was a need in our workforce for these services - health services, literacy through job training courses. I felt like there was a gap and nobody was helping the immigrant workforce in Philadelphia. I feel like five years into it we’ve definitely had an influence. We treat about 400 to 500 patients a year, and we have about 100 students enrolled in our classes per semester. Every little bit helps and counts. We think that we are making an impact and we are proud of that.

Are there any future plans to open a restaurant on the West Coast?

You never know. I like Los Angeles. I’d love to do LA, but it’s about the right time and the right place.

Visit tasteoftennis.com for tickets and info.