Chef Adolfo Garcia

Gusto, La Boca, High Hat, Ancora

Adolfo GarciaWith more than three decades’ experience as a chef and accolades as one of the best in the south by the James Beard Foundation, it’s hard to imagine Adolfo Garcia as an attorney. But that’s precisely where the Panamanian descendant, New Orleans-bred thought he was headed; specifically, to UT-Austin. Fortunately for foodies everywhere, fate intervened when a high school gig as a bus boy revealed a passion for cuisine. He traded UT-A for the CIA in New York City, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Returning to his roots in NOLA as a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he held posts at NY city restaurants like the 21 Club, Russian Tea Room and the Water Club followed by the return to NOLA as Chef at Lucky Cheng’s and then opening his first restaurant, Criollo, in 1997 followed by RioMar in 2000. Six years later, he opened Argentine steakhouse La Boca followed by a Mano in 2009, serving traditional central and southern Italian fare. With the Theatres at Canal Place renovation in 2010, he unveiled Gusto Cafe & Bar, offering in-seat dining and a café.
He’s received nods from Hispanic Magazine, landing on their list of the “Top 8 Latin Chefs in the Country” and New Orleans Magazine, which named him both Best New Chef ’97 and Chef of the Year 2006.

Accolades include a Mano being named a 2010 James Beard “Best New Restaurant” semifinalist and Chef Adolfo a “Best Chef for the South” semifinalist. New Orleans Magazine named him “Chef of the Year” for RioMar and La Boca and the New Orleans Times-Picayune has included RioMar in its Top Ten Best Restaurants in the city. In recent years, he closed a Mano and sold RioMar, remaining with La Boca and continuing as a partner at Gusto and focusing on two new venues: The High Hat Cafe in Uptown featuring a menu that infuses the delta and the Bayou, and Ancora, a traditional Neapolitan pizzeria.

These days, trading his chef whites for the role of restaurateur has enabled him to devote more time to family and being a mentor for others in both the culinary and Latino communities. As a supporter of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and volunteer for the Azucar Ball, he has been recognized for his distinguished service in the hospitality industry by the Chamber of Commerce. He recently participated in a symposium panel at the Culinary Institute of America campus in San Antonio teaching corporate chefs about incorporating Latin foods into their menus.

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