We had the good fortune of connecting with Adam Garcia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adam, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Our non-profit focuses on residents in the Sharpstown/Gulfton community. More than 80 countries are represented in this neighborhood, making it the most diverse neighborhood in the most diverse city in the country! It has the lowest unemployment rate in Houston, but also one of the lowest median incomes. We created a workforce development kitchen where we help teach disconnected youth (these students graduated high school, but not yet working) obtain job skills to go confidently into the work force. Our 16-week program also includes financial literacy classes as well as social emotional health taught by industry professionals. The program is completed with job placement, based on the students interest. We do this all through a culinary setting, with hope to one day have a cafe run by our graduates, if they choose to stay in the culinary field. I never went to college, but there were so many skills that i learned in a kitchen that helped prepare me for life. There are many ascpects to working in a kitchen. From building focus on a team-mentality, communication skills, learning how to promote and advocate for yourself to the importance of showing up on time, dressing professionally and accordingly. How to cost recipes using basic math, help eliminate food waste, handling money, who knows, maybe learn a little bit about cooking too!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
So, I’ve worked in Houston restaurants for just about 20 years, starting when I was 16 years old, washing dishes. What started out as ‘just trying to get a paycheck’ turned into a real passion for not only cooking but everything hospitality. I wasn’t really someone who learned in a conventional setting. Working more hands-on worked best for me. I worked my way up, learning as much as I could along the way. I was the opening chef for many of Houston’s top restaurants until I eventually accomplished my dream of becoming a partner in a restaurant. One of the things I love most about working in kitchens in the constant need and want to continue learning, and later in my career I realized I had that same feeling of want, but to teach. Food always had a huge impact on my upbringing, through my family and culture. Everyone has stories and everyone has some common ground. The fact that I get to share my passion with my fellow Houstonion neighbors is really what it’s all about. We start and end each day around a table, breaking bread.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow, this is a tough one. I enjoy starting my days off with a coffee from Catalina. Picking some some picnic provisions from Revival Market or Houston Dairymaids, then snacking on the Menil lawn. D and Q beer station always has a pretty good day drinking selection. Other incredible lunch spots which are on my list would be Himalaya, FuFu Restaurant, One Dragon for soup dumplings. Drinks at Anvil, BLT, or wine at 13 Celcius is always a must for out-of-towners. Usually dinner is Kata Robata, Squable, Coltivare, or UB Preserv. On the rare cool Houston nights we usually like to host our friends, cook and have a fire in our backyard!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
St Lukes United Methodist Church on Westheimer has been our home throughout this entire process. Without the love and support shown from their members and staff, none of this would be possible!
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