Who: Ruben Garcia, director of research and development at Think Food Group (Minibar, Cafe Atlantico, Oyamel, Jaleo, and Zaytinya).
Why we chose him: José Andrés’s right-hand man runs the dazzling Minibar and helps his boss plan restaurant concepts in Las Vegas and Miami.
Also worked at: El Bulli in Roses, Spain.
Memorable meal: “José Andrés and I cooked for Salma Hayek’s wedding in Venice. The banquet was in an opera house that didn’t have a kitchen, so we had to improvise one on two boats. The menu was ten courses. We started that day at 6 am and finished at 4 am, then left for Washington at 8 am.”
Favorite sandwich: “A really good grilled cheese with potato bread—it gets crunchy around the edges and moist inside. I use Emmenthaler with Parmesan, so you get a little bit of sharpness, and basil or whatever is growing in my garden.”
Get-up-and-go drink: “Cola Cao, a cocoa mix from my childhood. It’s like Nesquik.”
Restaurant that inspires him: “Every restaurant has something special. Even something bad can inspire you. I don’t go to McDonald’s because of the quality, but there’s something amazing about how they can bring so many people to their locations. There’s something to learn there.”
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