Since opening his first restaurant, Amada, in 2005, Chef Jose Garces has emerged as one of the nation’s most gifted chefs. He has opened seven additional restaurants; authored a stunning cookbook, Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, September 2008); won the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” award 2009; and won Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef, making him one of just six chefs in the country to hold the title of Iron Chef America.
Garces’ Philadelphia restaurants form his eponymous Garces Restaurant Group. He is owner and executive chef of each, and all are counted among the city’s best: Amada, an Andalusian tapas bar and restaurant; Tinto, a Basque wine bar and restaurant; Distrito, a modern Mexican restaurant; Chifa, a Latin-Asian restaurant; Village Whiskey, a classic American bar; Garces Trading Company, a gourmet market and café that is also the name of his retail group; JG Domestic, an artisanal American restaurant; and Guapos Tacos, a mobile truck serving modern Mexican street food. He also sells his own line of custom-roasted coffee and espresso beans, both online and at Garces Trading Company. Chef Garces is also the executive chef at Chicago’s much-praised Catalan restaurant Mercat a la Planxa. Both Distrito and Mercat were named to Esquire magazine’s list of “20 Best New Restaurants, 2008.”
In addition, Chef Garces wrote first cookbook, Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, September 2008), and is hard at work on a second. In 2010, Chef Garces won Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef, and now appears regularly on Iron Chef America. He has been featured on top TV shows and in prestigious publications such as Today Show, Nightline, The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Wall Street Journal.
An American chef born to Ecuadorian parents and raised in Chicago, Chef Garces began his culinary training in the kitchen of his paternal grandmother, Mamita Amada. Today, he is known for his wide smile and educational approach to food, as well as his mastery of a diverse range of cuisines and ingredients.
For more information on Chef Jose Garces or any of his restaurants, please visit www.grg-mgmt.com and follow them on Twitter: @garcesgroup.
Chef Morris was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and showed an interest in cooking from a very young age. Growing up, his earliest culinary memories were cooking dinner for his siblings so they could avoid store bought, pre-packaged meals while his parents we busy working. Chef Morris began his culinary career in 2000 as an assistant to the chef at the fine dining restaurant Mariposa in Park City, Utah. In 2004, Morris was appointed executive chef of Red Rock Grille, and later as chef of The Club at Spanish Peak in Big Sky, Montana, where he created seasonal menus and utilized local, organic ingredients. Morris eventually moved to Chicago, where he was named sous chef at Mercat a la Planxa when it opened in early 2008 under the direction of Executive Chef Jose Garces and Chef de Cuisine Michael Fiorello. Now, as chef de cuisine, Morris enjoys adding a modern spin to Catalan classics. Chef Morris’s approach to food is derived from his travels through Spain, France, and the United States, as well as the industry luminaries he has worked alongside, including chefs Jose Garces and Joyce Goldstein. He believes that food is meant not only for consumption but to excite the palate and create memories. In his spare time, Chef Morris enjoys cycling and exploring different cultures through Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and their food.
Before joining Mercat a la Planxa, Goedde successfully opened
and managed a number of restaurants, including Hapa Sushi in Boulder, CO; The Corner Office in Denver; and The Original in Portland. But her love for hospitality began at the young age of 14 as a pantry cook at the Lenhart Hotel in Bemus Point, NY, owned by a family of siblings their 90s. “John, Jane, and George were all incredibly enthusiastic about their jobs,” Goedde says. “Their excitement and devotion inspired me to invest my passion in this industry for a long time.”
Growing up in a resort town in upstate New York, Goedde spent the summers of her adolescence in restaurants as a line cook and cocktail waitress. “I was always fascinated by the people in the restaurant world, from the dishwasher who is an aspiring screenwriter to the cook passionate about mushrooms,” she says. She continued on to Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV, to attain her B.S. in hotel restaurant management with an honors thesis on “opening a restaurant.”
In 1999, Goedde’s thesis came to life when she and group of friends launched Hapa Sushi, which they ultimately grew into a four-unit business. Goedde oversaw operations and helped create the franchise business as a part owner and vice president. This endeavor helped her understand the breadth and complexities involved in opening and operating a restaurant, from training the sushi chef to financial reporting. “I learned how to think outside the box and pay attention to details when I opened Hapa Sushi,” Goedde says. “I partnered with creative people who taught me the importance of assembling a great team who cares about the end product.”
Utilizing her experience with Hapa Sushi, Goedde accepted an opportunity to join the Sage Restaurant Group team in 2006 to assist with the openings of The Corner Office and Mercat a la Planxa. She moved to Portland in 2008 and assumed the position of opening general manager of Urban Farmer at the Nines Hotel—where she also conceived the restaurant’s popular Moonshine Punch cocktail—before launching and managing The Original in 2009. She returned to Chicago in June 2012 to become the general manager of food and beverage at Mercat a la Planxa.
Goedde, an avid home cook who describes herself as “a jock with an artsy side,” also enjoys kicking back with a good book, biking, and knitting. As a lifelong runner, she has also participated in several marathons and loves exploring new trails. She lives in Wicker Park with her husband, Matt.