In Brief: Jose Garces, Iron Chef, Author and Restauranteur. 10 Q Interview
You grew up in Chicago, what was on the table at a Garces’ family dinner?
“My family relied on a lot of Latin staples: arroz con pollo, arepas, empanadas, ropa vieja and fritada. My mother is an accomplished cook, and her meals were always hearty and very complete, with a protein, a starch and vegetables that ranged from things I loved (sweet roasted peppers) to things that frightened me (the vivid green of an avocado is not the most comforting thing to a kid…!)”
You beat Bobby Flay in melons to become an Iron Chef, did that victory change anything for you?
“I took on Bobby Flay as a challenger, and that experience led to me being cast on The Next Iron Chef, but it was several more battles before I was actually named the winner and became an Iron Chef myself. I would say that Battle: Melon was a defining moment for me because it was my first time in Kitchen Stadium, and I think I showed the judges – and Iron Chef Flay – that I was ready and able to compete on that level.”
Did the Food Network lawyers tell you what it meant to be named an Iron Chef? If so, what does it mean?
“Ha, ha. The first question people want to know is how it works behind the scenes at a taping of Iron Chef America. If I reveal anything, my Food Network contract states that I will have to pay $1 million dollars to the Food Network. That’s about all their lawyers ever needed to tell me!”
Tell us a little bit about Luna Farm.
“Luna Farm is a 40-acre retreat in Bucks County, PA for my family and me. It’s reclaimed farmland, and my farm manager, Alex McCracken, and I have worked together to develop it into a working farm, reseeding fields, sowing indigenous edibles, even building a ‘foraging trail’ that I can wander for inspiration. It’s also a place of leisure and fun for my family and I, especially the kids, who love the freedom to explore and ‘run wild’ throughout the property.” (Click here for photos of Luna Farm)
Does Luna Farm raise heritage animal breeds and crops?
“At the moment, Luna Farm is home to a few chickens, but is primarily agricultural, focusing on plants, vegetables, fruits, nuts and mushrooms. We also raise honeybees, both for their assistance in pollination and as a means of perpetuating an endangered local species.”