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    Chef Paco Garcia // Facebook

    Chef Paco Garcia was in a meeting at Con Huevos, the restaurant where he works, when he found out he’d been named a semifinalist in the “best chef: Southeast” category of the James Beard Foundation’s 2018 Restaurant and Chef Awards. At first he thought the email was nothing, maybe someone trying to sell him something. Then it sank in. “I never thought I’d get attention from James Beard,” Garcia says. “When I got it I was like, Wow, I feel so lucky.” He went to El Mundo with the servers and dishwashers from Con Huevos to celebrate. “We drank a lot of margaritas,” he says.

    Garcia didn’t make it to the finals, announced March 14 in Philadelphia, but he’s still got plenty to look forward to. Con Huevos is opening a second location in Holiday Manor tomorrow and plans to expand the Frankfort Avenue location shortly thereafter. We caught up with Garcia to find out how he makes it through his hectic day-to-day. The following has been lightly edited for clarity.


    On working at a restaurant:

    “I wake up at 6:30 a.m., just to be ready for service at the restaurant. It’s been pretty rough. I used to work night shift for seven years. After beginning to work at Con Huevos, I would work one day a week, waking up at 6 a.m. But now I have to wake up five to six days a week, and I’m getting accustomed. But I’m not a morning person. Maybe one day when I get older. Right now, I’m struggling.”

    “I make it to the restaurant around 7 a.m. and make sure all the orders from the day before make it to the restaurant. I start preparing for service, which is at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays. I have to make sure all the food is ready to serve, all the employees have their prep ready, and we make sure we hit all the food and health department requirements. Then we serve the rest of the day. I have to make sure all food is ready and served on nice, creative plates.”

    “People don’t appreciate the chef and their creativity. We have to make sure a lot of things are in place. You have to include a lot details. For example: how you put food on the plate, the heat of the food and more. That’s what makes a good cook.”

    “We currently have three cooks in Con Huevos, and the kitchen is very small, so it can be stressful being in that small of a place with a lot of things to do. The restaurant also only seats 24, and we can seat those seats about eight to ten times a day. That’s about 300 to 400 people. It’s very stressful, but I enjoy it. The busier it is, the more happy I am.”


    On food:

    “I just eat burritos (for breakfast) sometimes. Or whatever I find myself making. I love food and everything, but for me, it’s all about making the other people happy.”

    “First of all, I’m Mexican. I love tacos. I’m addicted to them. I push myself not to eat them because I don’t want to gain a lot of weight. I like local restaurants though. Mayan Café, the Holy Grale, The Grille House, Silver Dollar, The Tavern, El Mundo. Those are some of my favorite restaurants.”

    “Instead of me cooking for my girlfriend, she cooks for me a lot. I get very tired of cooking all day. People say if you have a boyfriend that’s a chef, he’ll probably cook a lot, but I think that theory is wrong. Plus, after I work in the restaurant after very long hours, it doesn’t seem as appealing.”


    On work-life balance:

    “My favorite day is Wednesday, because after all the stress and cooking, I go to this club called Play Louisville. One of my roommates, Josh, teaches salsa and bachata classes there. I go there to learn how to dance as a stress reliever. I drink a little bit more than on the weekend, so I don’t go to work on the weekends with a hangover. I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s Thursday, there probably won’t be as many people coming in the restaurant as on the weekend.’”

    “I will be going back to school next semester to finish my culinary arts degree. This semester I decided not to take classes because of the new restaurant opening. Next semester, I will finish my degree and spend time with my friends and be in the restaurants a lot. It will be very hectic with the new restaurant opening.”`

    “When I was single, I went straight home and took a nap. I woke up around 6. And then went out ’til about 1 a.m. Then I wake up at 6 a.m. and do the same routine. Now I’m not single, I work, like, regular hours, and I go home. I eat after that, run in the park with my girlfriend or hang out and have a beer.”

    “On Fridays, I teach cooking classes at a place called Mesa in New Albany. It’s nice because I get a lot of feedback from people on a thing I really like to do: cooking. People are usually happy with the food I cook.”


    Cover photo: Con Huevos // Facebook

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