Ex-convict and US deportee beats odds to become Mexico’s superstar chef

Latin America

It’s the tale of a convicted felon and ex-migrant worker, deported from the U.S., but there’s more to Eduardo Garcia’s story than meets the eye.

The deportee overcame a tough life to become a superstar chef, and has become one of Mexico’s biggest culinary successes.

CGTN Martin Markovits reports from Mexico City.
Follow Martin Markovits on Twitter @MartinMarkovits

Ex-convict and US deportee beats odds to become Mexico's superstar chef

It's the tale of a convicted felon and ex-migrant worker, deported from the U.S., but there's more to Eduardo Garcia's story than meets the eye. The deportee overcame a tough life to become a superstar chef, and has become one of Mexico's biggest culinary successes.

Eduardo Garcia made his Maximo Bistrot one of the top restaurants in Mexico City’s thriving food scene. Among his customers are Mexican movie stars, elite politicians and other patrons. But for Garcia, the son of Mexican migrant laborers in the U.S., it had not always been that way.

 “I actually never went to any school, I always worked. I have vivid memories of picking tomatoes and oranges for sixteen hours a day when I was five -years -old. It’s modern slavery,” Garcia explained.

An aggravated assault conviction in the U.S. landed Garcia in prison for three years. He was deported twice to Mexico in 2000 and 2007. He decided to stay in Mexico and through cooking, his true passion, turned his life around.

“I have been always told that I could never do that, I was always told I was a convicted felon. So for me I have to be better than everyone else and I always say I’m not the best cook and I’m not the worst cook. But I love what I do,” Garcia said.

Garcia opened his restaurant, Maximo Bistrot, in 2011 with four employees. Garcia and his wife now own three restaurants in Mexico City, and he is about to open two more in Paris and Dubai.

Garcia has six years under his belt as a restaurant owner, and his food is celebrated for its unique take on European dishes melded with traditional Mexican flavors. It has earned him the admiration of food lovers from all over the world.

Garcia said he feels his biggest accomplishment is that he has been able to make a successful business in Mexico. He employs 150 people in a country where it’s difficult to make a living wage, and where few economic opportunities exist.

“I started to notice how most of my employees were making $500 a week which for Mexican standards and no education is really good. And they started to build their own homes, so to me it became a business that promotes and helps people stay in the country,” Garcia said.

Garcia hopes his story can inspire the millions of his compatriots living illegally and in fear of being returned to their native land. He stands as proof that second chances do exist in a changing Mexico.