A Chef Graduated in the School of Life
Meet Adán Trinidad, the 'dreamer' who became the chef behind the success of some of the best bars in the city: Sancho Pistola's and José Pistola's.
Have you ever wondered what the kitchen of a bar or restaurant sounds like? If you have not, here is an approximation: whistles of meat grilling on a plate, crackling of boiling oil when it is surprised by frozen potatoes, scratching of knives on metal surfaces, whooshing of refrigerator doors when they open and close, to the powerful vents that draw without rest the smoke of the grills, the lighted ovens, the exhausted fans, the blenders that crush and mix…
In other words, the kitchen sounds like noise: everything and nothing specific. That noise, however, is music to the ears of Adán Trinidad, a chef -Mexican born and gringo by adoption- who loves to be immersed in the culinary bustle that is the kitchen of Sancho Pistola's.
At age 15 Adán abandoned high school to pursue a career in the “school of life.” He started out as a dishwasher at La Champagne, a traditional French food restaurant in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where he met his mentor and putative father: Chef Ed Doherty, who welcomed him as he was barely babbling English, and taught him everything from the name of every single ingredient to the art of the food industry.
"I asked about everything, I drew each ingredient and wrote out their names in English to memorize them,” he remembers. "You can’t learn anything if you don’t ask." The high school renegade had finally found his alma mater. In La Champagne, he was by far the best apprentice. Two years later, he was a line cook. His talent and his curiosity defined his journey through gastronomy.
In 2003, at 21 years old and a future bigger than Cherry Hill, Adán moved to Philadelphia, following Doherty to the Capital Grille team where he began to make a name among the restaurateurs of the city.
In 2004, the "King Midas" of Latin cuisine, José Garcés took him as a line cook to Sthephen Starr's newly opened El Vez. In two months, Adán became his right hand: the sous chef, a title that put him in second place in the hierarchy of kitchens.
Since then his career has been a locomotive in full swing. He was the executive chef at the inauguration of The Water Works Restaurant. From there he took off to Alma de Cuba, then Garcés recruited him again to help bring El Vez afloat, which suffered the rigors of the recession at the end of the past decade.
It was then when Richard Sandoval, owner of a multinational with more than 40 restaurants in the world, invited him to cook for him at Pampano, one of his premises in New York.
In 2014 Jose Pistola's and Sancho Pistola's opened in partnership with his canteen friends Joe Gunn and Casey Parker.
His success as a chef - and now as an entrepreneur - is not something inexplicable or God’s miracle, but the work of a man who believed in himself. His story has much in common with the majority of his fellow countrymen: discipline. The intense hours of work (he once worked from Monday to Monday, 16 hours a day) forged his character and allowed him to cultivate a natural talent for creating memorable flavors.
Today his kitchen is a registered trademark. Soon Pistolas del Sur will open, his third bar in company of Gunn and Parker.
When asked if there is anything he hates about his work, he responds philosophically: "I have always said that if you do not like what you do you should quit. I love what I do; there is not a single day when I get up from bed complaining having to go to work."
For him, cooking is like making music and the kitchen is a stage full of instruments. His job is to direct a band of rockers specialized in playing the best concerts.
Passion is the fuel of discipline and, in the case of Adán, has taken him very far. Today there is not a single day that this man does not enjoy the "musicality" of his kitchen and the socializing effect of his food. For him, the most rewarding thing is that through his art he has the possibility of making friends and giving work to his countrymen.
At 5:00 pm on Tuesday, August 8, the third event of the Meet the Chefs Tranforming Philadelphia's Cuisine Series will be held, with which AL DÍA News in partnership with Independence Blue Cross, will bring together the Hispanics chefs in the city so they can teach us how to prepare one of their favorite dishes and to reflect on the contribution of the Latino gastronomy to the culinary scene of the city.
This time we will have the presence of Adán Trinidad, chef of José and Sancho Pistola's.
Register here to sign up for his class. It's free!