By the time Eduardo Garcia was 30, he’d been through more than many people twice his age have — a job out of school as a chef on private yachts; co-founding Montana Mex, a Mexican-inspired line of seasonings and sauces; and a horrific hunting accident that caused severe burns, and the loss of his left hand and a portion of his arm. Then, while in the hospital, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy.
However, not even a prosthetic arm could stop him, which earned him the nickname “The Bionic Chef.”
“My curiosity stayed with me,” Garcia said. “That curiosity drove me to just start trying again.”
Every meal tells a story
Garcia’s story has deep roots in his culture and family.
“I’m more stimulated when I cook the cuisine of Mexico because it accesses a different place for me,” he said.
Garcia’s journey has taught him the value of both health and heritage in cooking.
“I’m not really cooking, I’m creating,” he said. “I’m storytelling. Culture is where I get my material. It’s a much deeper understanding of how it all pieces together, sometimes five years or 500 years back, and that goes into the fabric of the meal.”
His father’s experience living with type 2 diabetes also inspired Garcia to work with the American Heart Association’s and American Diabetes Association’s Know Diabetes by Heart initiative.
“My father loved food deeper than anyone — deeper than me,” he said. “To think about someone losing the way they experience care, or love, or even culture — the favorite dish someone made for you and now you can’t eat it because you have a health condition. I’m here to really remind everybody that we have the ability to rewrite our script every day.
“I loved cooking with my father so deeply. And so now, I don’t buy tortillas anymore. I made that decision when he passed because I want to experience being with him. So I’m gonna make them from scratch.”
His efforts at tortilla making are starting to pay off.
“I’ve botched so many,” Garcia said. “Now, thousands later, I’m starting to make a decent tortilla!”
Garcia said it’s all about how we approach our challenges.
“Our scars are like the blueprint and the roadmap of where we’ve been and who we are,” he said. “We can’t remove them, we can’t get rid of them. And so I would encourage others to embrace the challenge.”