Before he became a chef, David Garrido very nearly disappeared into a different profession—a scary thought. He was on a career path in hotel management at the Hilton Hotel University in Houston eleven years ago when friends introduced him to French cooking. From the first minute in the kitchen, he knew he could only be happy working twelve-hour days, sweating over a fiery grill, and whisking sauces until his wrists ached. “A light came on,” he says. “Cooking was so natural. I thought, ‘There’s nothing else. I have to do this.’” Now the executive chef of a pair of Austin restaurants—the beloved Jeffrey’s and the Shoreline Grill—the 35-year-old Garrido has achieved remarkable success. He has performed the culinary rite of passage of cooking at the James Beard House in New York, appeared on the Television Food Network, and recently ruled out moving to the Big Apple to be the chef of the prestigious Arizona 206 restaurant. He’s writing a cookbook and dreams of developing a line of really good frozen foods (risotto, polenta) for busy foodophiles. He counts as his two mentors Bruce Auden (under whom he worked at Charley’s 517 in Houston) and Stephan Pyles (then at Routh Street Cafe in Dallas).
Prediction: Hope that Garrido’s family ties and Mexican heritage (he is the son of a Mexican diplomat) will sustain his Texas loyalty, but expect temptation to strike. His name is known on both coasts.
If Jay McCarthy can stay focused on the kitchen, he can become one of the next big names in Southwestern cuisine, or whatever cuisine he chooses. At 35, he has what it takes: a mind that churns out food ideas at warp speed and a burning desire to be on top of the mountain. The former aerospace engineer has worked all over the United States, including San Antonio’s Fairmont Hotel (where he practiced his Southwestern chops with Bruce Auden) and the Zuni Grill (where he picked up novel ideas researching the foods of the Zuni Indians). In the past few years he has declined offers from Santa Fe, Seattle, and San Francisco, preferring to raise his young family in Texas. Currently he is the executive chef and manager at Cascabel, in the Sheraton Fiesta hotel in San Antonio, drumming up name recognition wherever he can: cooking on the luxe American Orient Express train to Branson, Missouri; doing a wine dinner in California; appearing on the Television Food Network’s Ready…Set…Cook! You wonder how he has time to run his own restaurant, but he swears he is there “five nights a week.”
Prediction: Watch for McCarthy to develop what he calls Caribbean Rim, a tropical spin on Southwestern cuisine. He lived in the West Indies for ten years as a youngster, so it’s a natural. Given that he has already written a Jamaican cookbook-travelog (Traveling Jamaica With Knife, Fork, and Spoon, with Austin food writer Robb Walsh), he seems to be on his way.