Inside Chef Jose Garces' new personal brand site
As the pandemic continues to present challenges, Garces has used the time to make an impact on others.
Throughout a career that has spanned decades, Chef Jose Garces has learned a lot about the culinary industry.
Now, the Iron Chef, James Beard Award-winner, entrepreneur and food innovator is eager to share with others a lot of what he’s learned throughout his career.
Dec. 17 marked the launch of Garces’ official personal brand site, chefgarces.com. The new site is centered around creating a personalized platform for users to gain first-hand experience and learn about Garces’ business and culinary expertise in an interactive and engaging way.
During a conversation with AL DÍA, Chef Garces discussed why he decided to launch the new site, what individuals can expect from it and how he’s been navigating the ongoing pandemic.
The new personal brand site has been in the works for about five years, Garces said.
After leading his restaurant group for several years, adhering to restaurant operations and catering, Garces felt there would come a time when he could focus his direction onto other aspects of the food and beverage industry.
The shutdown of indoor dining in restaurants brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in March gave Garces an opportunity to pivot and shift his focus.
“It really signaled the moment where I felt like I could have some time to really focus on the personal brand and … get it up and going,” said Garces.
The new personal brand site will provide several offerings. One of which is professional consulting services.
“When things return to normal, I’ll be able to lend my expertise from over 25 years working in the industry,” said Garces.
The type of consulting services will range from revamping existing brands, creating new brands, helping those looking to break into the industry, as well as experienced workers looking to expand or refocus. This is in addition to culinary oversights and financial business services.
Another offering the new site will provide is called “Cooking Space,” a 24-part web series featuring 8-10 minute videos where Garces will teach various new recipes based on a particular theme. A new video will be released on the site every other week.
“This is really geared towards folks who are at home, maybe who are looking for other alternative activities,” said Garces. “Cooking seems to be a big one.”
“The concept of the show is where mindfulness and being present meets food and music,” he added
Another concept is called, “Latin Live.” This is a new series of virtual interactive cooking demonstrations where participants can sign up and engage firsthand and in real time with Garces.
“I’m going to feature foods and cuisine from Latin America and the Caribbean and hopefully be like a resource for home cooks and even young, professional cooks to be inspired, learn more about our culture through food, and have a good time while doing it,” said Garces.
The “Latin Live” series will begin in January 2021.
One of the other aspects is a brand partnership with Boisset Collection wines, one of the world’s leading family-owned luxury fine wine companies.
As a brand ambassador for the Boisset Collection, the partnership will result in some collaborative dinners, as well as food and wine pairings.
“My hope with the site was to create this food culture hub through my lens,” said Garces.
Other features include a book club where chef authors are recommended, as well as a Spotify playlist of music Garces often listens to while cooking.
The goal for the personal brand site is to continue updating and providing more recipes and content that will inspire people to want to cook and have fun with it.
Having worked for more than two decades in different markets, including Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, Garces has seen a lot of change within the culinary and restaurant industry.
“I think food and service have evolved quite a bit over time,” he said.
He noted a more openness to ethnic preparations, styles and techniques as one of the ways he’s seen food evolve over the years.
On the service spectrum, Garces said he’s seen quick service and fast-casual options take more shape, particularly in recent times.
With the pandemic canceling indoor dining options, digital brands and third-party delivery services have seen an uptick in use.
“I think right now is a perfect time to really take advantage,” said Garces. “And I see that just continuing to grow.”
The ongoing pandemic has had an impact on just about every individual and every professional industry.
For the restaurant industry, in particular, many have endured limited indoor dining, layoffs and furloughs, as well as full shutdowns.
“The restaurant business is really facing an uphill battle, not only with just getting through this tough period to be able to stay in business long term,” said Garces.
However, while navigating the many challenges brought on by the pandemic, Garces has also found that the pandemic has also given him a bigger appreciation for what he has and his past accomplishments.
“It’s really given me a bigger appreciation for what I have, and really helped drive me towards how we can help give back as much as we can in this situation,” he said.
During the pandemic, the Garces Foundation launched The Garces Foundation Food Pantry and began distributing boxes of meals to families, and particularly to undocumented workers in the restaurant industry and immigrant communites in Philadelphia.
To date, the Foundation has delivered more than 7,000 meal boxes to families across the city.
Garces said that the pandemic has provided many learning lessons and opportunities to give back.
For those who may be looking to enter into the business, Garces’ advice would be to utilize ghost and cloud kitchens, as well as third-party digital platforms because that’s where he sees the industry headed.
With food delivery becoming more prevalent as indoor dining is prohibited in most circumstances, those platforms will likely continue to grow.
“Looking back on my career, if you have an idea, if you’re an entrepreneur and you believe in it, that’s the most important thing,” he said, noting the importance of research and learning all the aspects of business.
“Once you’ve done that work and you’re ready to go, just drive it. Go and get it,” said Garces.