|Yun Fuentes (on the right) with Nick Macri at Hop Chef|
Yun Fuentes: I was cooking in NYC, but my dad lived in South Jersey and he wanted me to get a job in Philadelphia. I was like, “No way, why Philly?” but I wanted to humor him. We brushed up my resume and planned a visit.
Amada caught my eye as we walked past. It wasn’t on any list of ours, or anything - I had no idea who Jose Garces was, he wasn’t that famous yet - but I just loved the look of the restaurant. I pulled on the door to go in, but it was 11 AM in the morning, it wasn’t open yet.
So I went around to the back, and stepped through the delivery door into the kitchen. The chef looked up from his prep, and asked what I wanted. “I’d like to apply for a job,” I told him, and he responded that the front of the house manager wasn’t in yet. “No, I cook, I want to work in the kitchen,” I said.
Now, I was wearing a perfectly-pressed, three-piece suit, understand. The chef stared at me, taken aback, since cooks usually come looking for jobs dressed in anything but a suit. I handed him my resume, and he did another double-take. He set up an interview for the following Tuesday.
When I got home, I did some research, and discovered who Jose Garces was. I also found out he’d published a book, which I immediately went out and bought and read cover-to-cover. When I went in for my interview, I knew more about Garces’ cooking and Amada than the person who interviewed me, probably. I was hired.
I moved up to sous chef at Amada, and then went over to become chef de cuisine at Tinto and Village Whiskey. Then Jose asked me to move to JG Domestic, and I’ve been there ever since. It’s a great organization, and a great opportunity. I’m loving it.