From leading the kitchens of Patria, Erizo Latino, Calle Ocho or Babalu to hosting "The Melting Pot" on the Food Network, this chef, restaurateur, TV personality and author has dedicated his career to the education and celebration of Latin culture specifically through its cuisine. As one of the chefs creators of the Nuevo Latino cooking movement, he excels in bringing creativity and efficiency to kitchens and providing festive, crowd-pleasing restaurants and event environments.
Currently Chef Alex Garcia is the Director of Culinary Operations for Barrio Foods. In addition to creating the culinary programs and overseeing the kitchens at a number of his properties throughout New York City including Calle Ocho, the Copacabana Supper Club, the VIP food service at the Copacabana Nightclub, Barrio, Havana Café, Open Book Café at the Brooklyn Public Library, Cabana Bar and Rooftop 760, Garcia also leads the Barrio Foods catering business, MAMBO catering. As founder of The Latin Spice Company he develops spice blends available for wholesale and retail purchase throughout New York City and the Caribbean. Garcia also explores the national market with an affordable, durable and versatile line of dishware for restaurants, Plates4Chefs.
A native Cuban, Garcia's family taught him to appreciate the simplicity of ingredients and the power of conviviality centered around the table. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Garcia worked alongside Chef Douglas Rodriguez at the inventive Yuca restaurant in Miami. Committed to expanding the reach of Nuevo Latino cuisine, the two chefs opened Patria in New York City in 1994. Rave reviews, including three stars from The New York Times, followed.
Garcia opened Erizo Latino, a 100 seat Latin seafood restaurant, in Soho in 1998. Again, the local and national media were impressed thus establishing Garcia as a culinary leader of Latin America cuisine in New York. Calle Ocho on the Upper West Side his third restaurant, this ever-busy, always popular location has been going strong for thirteen years. In the early 2000's, Garcia opened Babalu, a nod to the authenticity and vibrancy of his native Cuban cuisine. His latest venture Copacabana it's a glamorous venue in the middle of Time Square where his cuisine and music set the standards in New York City Latino scene.
Garcia's engaging and entertaining TV guest appearances ultimately landed him a two regular series, "Melting Pot" and "Nuestra Cocina" on the Food Network. The show helped to further raise awareness of the vibrancy of Latino cuisines and the variety that exists within this category.
Given his culinary and business success, Garcia is a sought after consultant who has worked with such companies as Carnival Cruise Lines, Disneyland, Fiery Foods, California Avocado Commission and Catena Wines, among others as well as a spokesperson for Goya and Rums of Puerto Rico.
To further his goal of raising the awareness of Latino cuisine, Garcia wrote In a Cuban Kitchen, which was published by Running Press. In a Cuban Kitchen will help to broaden your appreciation of the country and its unique blend of flavors and cooking techniques.
Garcia is committed to serving his community a dedication demonstrated in his work starting the organization La Nueva Vida Culinary Program, which teaches formerly incarcerated individuals interested in culinary and hospitality management the essential skills needed to succeed in the industry. Garcia sits on the board of Ayuda for the Arts as well as volunteers extensively for their annual fundraiser. This year he has begun working with the American Diabetes Association helping demonstrate healthy eating habits through cooking demonstrations at various health fairs across the city. Garcia's great charisma and passion for cooking fuel his endless list of accomplishments. As one of the nation's leading Latino chefs, Garcia's commitment to educating and celebrating Latino culture has only benefited those lucky enough to experience his restaurants.