Who is Jose Garces? And Why Are You So Crazy About His Restaurants?

While Philly food legends Susanna Foo and Georges Perrier are closing the doors on some of their restaurants, upstart Jose Garces is doing the opposite: opening up five eateries in four years and being featured on the Food Network. Meet our next Stephen Starr

So for the time being, he says, he’ll agree to less risky deals, like licensing out Amada to the guys in Vegas. He’ll try his hand at prepared foods. Weekday mornings, he’ll play with Andres, his two-year-old, whose only knowledge of English is the word “milk.” He’ll see more of his mom, who moved here to be close to family in 2004. He’ll sing “Diamonds Are Forever” to Olivia, his precocious and sweets-loving six-year-old. He’ll take Beatriz on more low-key dates to Little Fish. He’ll have his brother over to watch Bears games. On Sunday nights at home, when everyone’s gone to bed, he’ll work up new recipes for his menus. He’ll maintain.

Because at the end of the day, that’s the kind of guy Jose Garces is. Sure, he’s a hardworking chef, the boss who promises that if the GRG ship were to start to sink, he’d be the last man working the line. He’s a clever restaurateur who could likely open another 250-seat restaurant to acclaim, recession and all. But if Garces Restaurant Group were to fail, if his investors were to bail, if he never received another Beard or invitation to battle on Iron Chef, he would be bummed, for sure. But it wouldn’t be the end of his world.

His employees would be well armed to join another restaurant. His wife would still be a dentist. His kids would love him. He’d still be a chef — somewhere, for someone. And no matter where he disappeared to, he’d think about where he’s been, and he’d laugh — deeply and heartily — at the complete surprise and the utter familiarity of it all.

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  • Edward

    I wanted to say that Lauren McCutcheon has written an excellent profile on Jose Garces that transcends the genre by way of acute attention to detail in the service of constructing a genuine, personable likeness. I don’t often read about foodie characters because they too often come off as delusional self important wizards. McCutcheon has managed to keep her subject proportional and grounded, or rather, has wisely chosen to allow her subject’s true humanity direct her approach. Well done. Fine reading.