Chef Gonzalez Featured in January Edition of Entrepreneurial Chef

Chef Arthur Gonzalez was featured in the January 2019 (issue 31) of Entrepreneurial Chef magazine! He was interviewed by Jenna Rimensnyder.

See the January 2019 issue online

Running two separate concepts simultaneously can be a challenge for any restaurateur - Chef Arthur Gonzalez attributes his success and ability to navigate through times of stress to his former mentor and unwavering determination. While the young chef was working his way up the culinary ladder in various professional kitchens, he crossed paths with JamesBeard award-winning chef, Eric Distefano, who would ultimately become his mentor. Distefano mentored Gonzalez on French technique, European cuisine, amongst various other culinary facets - which proved to be invaluable lessons, shaping Gonzalez as a chef and restauranteur. The succession of his knowledge has carried into the kitchens of both concepts he's opened within the last five years.

Pulling from his multicultural upbringing, Chef Art launched his concept in 2014, Panxa Cocina, where he develops dishes inspired by the distinct flavors of New Mexico. Wasting no time, the owner and executive chef opened the doors to his second concept, Roe Seafood, just two years later providing guests with the fresh bounty of the sea. An important aspect of both restaurants, residing in Long Beach, CA, is Gonzalez's use of locally sourced ingredients. Chef Art shares his insight into the advantages of having a mentor in the culinary industry, owning and creating menus for two different concepts and a peek inside what his day-to-day entails as a chef/owner.

How did you link up with your mentor, Chef Eric DiStefano?

I took a job with Hyatt in Albuquerque; the concierge kept telling me to go check out SantaFe and specifically Eric DiStefano of Geronimo. When I did, Chef DiStefano cooked nearly 13 courses for myself and my sous chefs. After that ,we talked for a few hours, and the following day I was offered a job.

What is your advice for a chef that is looking for a seasoned mentor?

Look for a chef that is going to push you - I don’t mean yell at you every day - but challenge you every single day in that kitchen. Someone that is patient, a teacher, a chef, who is also willing to listen. Eric and I would work next to each other, and we built a personal relationship . I have so much respect for him; you have to be willing to do whatever it takes, no questions asked.

Being that your restaurants are less than five miles apart, how much leg work is done by you for both establishments? Has it changed over time?

Running two kitchens has definitely changed the way I work. I don't get to cook as much; I spend more time in meetings while trying to ensure the front and back of the house are running smoothly. Can't forget about the front of the house. I rely heavily on my leads in both kitchens. Since I can't be at both places, I have to trust them and teach them to be an extension of me.

What advice would you give to a food entrepreneur looking to open up multiple establishments with different concepts?

Make sure your first establishment is at the point where you can walk away for a few weeks. You have to put just as much effort and time into your second place until it reaches the same point of success as your first. Both establishments need to run like if you were at both places.Otherwise, don't do it.

What does your day-to-day look like?

Coffee, trying to answer my emails- I personally am not the greatest at doing computer work - followed by meetings and making rounds with my sous chefs at both restaurants. I’m constantly talking with suppliers to see what's available. I always find time to take my dog, Prince, home for an hour, before coming back to make more rounds at both restaurants for dinner service.

What is your advice for a food entrepreneur looking to take advantage of locally sourced ingredients?

Building relationships with your local farmers, foragers, fisherman, and ranchers is very important. Make the commitment to them and don't waste their time. They work hard at what they do. Educate your staff and your customers. If possible, utilize the same supplier if you are sourcing ingredients for multiple locations.

Michael Kirkpatrick