If Jonathan Zaragoza knows how to do one thing, it’s cook. The Chicago-based executive chef of his family’s Birrieria Zargoza has been on a meteoric rise since he could hold a spatula or roast his own goat—which weren’t that far apart. At 22, he was listed on Zagat’s “30 Under 30,” at 23 he was executive chef at prestigious Logan Square restaurant Masa Azul. Then he rejoined the family business before being named one of StarChefs 2018 Rising Stars. He’s a tour de force who’s made a name for himself perfecting an almost-lost artform.
For Jonathan, food is a fine blend of family and heritage. At 7, he was insisting on making his own scrambled eggs. By 12, he was cooking Birria Tatemada (oven-roasted goat) with his dad at their restaurant. The Zargoza men studied under a master Birrierio (goat roaster) with a 200-year-old recipe and no heirs—and so they took the mantle. Food, explains Jonathan, serves as a physical link between generations. He’s keeping that link strong with every dish he creates.
When we learned how to make birria with Miguel Segura in Jalisco, we promised him we’d only serve one dish and make it exactly like he makes it.
I think we’re bringing a sense of home in a time where people are craving that.