Iron Chef Jose Garces regaled a crowd of about 400 people Monday night at the Free Library with anedotes surrounding his new book, The Latin Road Home.
It's equal parts travelogue, memoir and cookbook, as he focuses on the five Spanish-speaking countries that factor into his life. Its recipes are easily scaled to the home cook.
As the on-stage interviewer, I had him recap his career, which took off in 2001 when he came to Philadelphia to open Alma de Cuba for chef Douglas Rodriguez and restaurateur Stephen Starr. Next was his opening of El Vez for Starr. That set the stage for his solo debut, 2005's Amada.
Dude has come quite far in seven years, including seven restaurants in Philadelphia, three restaurants at the Revel in Atlantic City, two in Scottsdale, two in Palm Springs, and one in his hometown of Chicago. And a taco truck.
During the Q&A, Garces disclosed that his company, Garces Group, now does $42 million in annual sales and that he's trying to hire a chief operating officer.