A Morning At Breakfast Republic
Last week, I was privileged to interview the corporate chef of multiple breakfast eateries, including Breakfast Republic, Cesar Garcia. He is a very genuine person, and it was interesting to see where he started from! It isn’t easy being the chef in charge, especially at such busy and popular places, but Cesar makes it look like a piece of cake! Here’s some of our interview that can give you an idea of what it’s like to be a corporate chef:
Dean: Hey! How’s it going? Pretty busy day, huh?!
Cesar: Hi, welcome! Yes, it’s pretty much always busy every day from when we open to when we close.
Dean: Wow, well that’s good! Busy is good!
Cesar: Yeah it is!
Dean: So when did you start working as a chef?
Cesar: Well, I started working when I was 16; I had to find a job pretty young.
Dean: How long have you been working for this company?
Cesar: I’ve been working here for 7 years. I worked as a cook for the very first Fig Tree Cafe that opened.
Dean: That’s awesome! So, what is it about these breakfast places that you like?
Cesar: One good thing about breakfast places is that — it’s only breakfast (laughs). Everything closes at 3, so it’s nice to have the rest of the day. Only a few of our restaurants serve dinner, but dinner is fun, too; There’s a lot you can create for dinner.
Dean: As corporate chef, what are some of your responsibilities?
Cesar: I help create menus, specials, and different recipes along with my assistant.
Dean: How long does the process of creating a menu take?
Cesar: It took us about a year to create our menu here at Breakfast Republic. We had to make multiple dishes and only choose certain ones from them. So for example, if we made 200 dishes, we probably only picked 25 for our menu.
Dean: How do you find ways to make your menus at each restaurant different?
Cesar: Johan (the owner) travels a lot, and sees different things; He tries to incorporate what he sees into our menu. Kind of like interpreting his travels into meals.
Dean: What about when you create specials? What’s your inspiration?
Cesar: My kids, probably. Mostly when I’m with my family, I just get different ideas.
Dean: Did you have an influences growing up?
Cesar: I didn’t, in middle school I had to take cooking classes. When I had to look for jobs, the only ones I found involved cooking. I didn’t even have a passion for cooking, I wanted to a soccer player. The first job I had was a dishwasher at Mexican seafood place, but I only worked there for 3 days because I hated it so much (laughs).
Dean: When did you realize you had to be a chef?
Cesar: It was rough in the beginning, they had to teach me a lot. While I was learning how to become a cook, I met a lot of chefs and thought “I have to cook like them one day.”
Dean: Nice, nice. So what have you made for me today?
Cesar: I made you a french toast sampler; this is probably one of my favorites because there are 6 different french toasts on the menu, but the sampler lets you try 3. The 3 I chose for you are: Strawberry Mascarpone, which is strawberries and mascarpone cheese in the french toast; Banana Split, in between the french toast pieces is a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and on the side is a slice of a banana; and the Mr. Presley, which has peanut butter and banana foster inside and bacon on top.
Dean: What’s your personal favorite dish here?
Cesar: The shrimp and grits. We make a special hot sauce here so it has a different flavor you can't get anywhere else.
Dean: What do you think is next for you in the next 5-10 years?
Cesar: Well, there will definitely be a lot more restaurants growing within our company and it’s going to be really busy. In the next 5 years I hope to continue growing with this company.
Dean: Would you ever open your own restaurant, or do you have a concept for a restaurant?
Cesar: I’ve seen a lot of things happen in the corporate point of view, so I don’t have any plans of opening one myself. A concept I would like to see, though, would maybe bring alcohol to breakfast. Maybe you don’t have a chance to drink later, why not take a shot of tequila with your eggs? (chuckles)