Ray Garcia

Chef

Native Angeleno Ray Garcia is just your average law school-bound poli-sci and business economics UCLA grad who decided to become a chef instead. He paid his way through college working in restaurants and discovered a love for cooking even the siren song of the legal system couldn’t contend with. And it worked out. His first restaurant, Broken Spanish, racked up countless accolades by Esquire, USA Today, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Magazine. He was also recognized by Esquire as Chef of the Year in its first year. Save something for the rest of the chefs, Ray.

He’s driven, determined and fearless. Ray opened Broken Spanish and its sister restaurant B.S. Taqueria within 90 days of each other. What would seem as the death knell to any other chef, Ray harnessed and raised the industry bar. He cooks with his grandma’s recipes in mind, melding his Southern California upbringing with his Mexican heritage, making perfectly broken masterpieces on every plate.

Why We Love Ray Garcia

Ray’s first boss told him “I don’t give you six weeks.” He was executive sous chef six years later. The guy just doesn’t back down and he makes us motivated to keep up.

"There's something masochistic about me. I like the struggle."

“My approach to Mexican food and cooking is authentically inauthentic.”

6 Questions with Ray Garcia

  1. How would you describe Broken Spanish’s brand of Mexican food?

    It's Mexican food as seen through an Angeleno lens, and I think we’re leaving ourselves a little bit of wiggle room for ingredients and technique to make their way in there.

  2. Was it a surprise to you that your first restaurant resonates so much with people?

    You know, that was always the goal. When we first started, I was just thinking ‘make good food, get people coming in,’ but then after we started serving them, and seeing how we were really connecting with people was probably the biggest accomplishment for me and my team.

  3. Of all the books you could’ve learned from, why did you pick Cooking For Dummies?

    I think back then, this was the early nineties, you walked into a bookstore and there’d be a wall of yellow books screaming at you with titles from everything to ‘Plumbing’ to ‘What is the Internet?’ to ‘How to Cook.’ My college roommate had been cooking in restaurants his whole life, and was a sushi chef. And I was warming up canned tomato sauce and pasta and boiling ramen six days a week. So I just decided I need to learn this and take it upon myself.

  4. Where does the name Broken Spanish come from?

    I feel that the name Broken Spanish reflects my relationship with and approach to Mexican food and cooking. It challenges many people’s preconceptions of the cuisine. It’s authentically-inauthentic.

  5. How did you decide to choose to become a chef over going to law school?

    I think there was a moment. The career I was thinking of going into was the FBI, by way of law school, and then I got interested in cooking. It wasn’t really a conscious decision—at no point did I map out the pros and cons. I just fell in love with the restaurant business. I started out in the front of the house as a busser at a Mexican restaurant handing out chips and salsa, and paid my way through college. And I just got sucked into it until I went into the back of the house, picked up a knife and never walked out.

  6. What’s your favorite recipe your grandma used to make, or that you've been inspired by?

    I love to eat, and when I was a kid I didn’t think, ‘This is going to be something I could do professionally.’ It was just something I enjoyed, drinking, cooking, something that brought the family together. I enjoyed walking to her house after school and smelling beans cooking, or that choking smell of the chile that’s roasting in the summertime. I didn’t take a whole lot away in the early years. It was when I went to college trying to make my own food when I really started calling her up picking her brain. They were simple things, really fundamental techniques to a very soulful food. There aren’t specific recipes I’ve translated, but it’s more ideas and special moments we’ve shared.

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