Mike Madriaga 2:30 p.m., Sept. 19
The Rumors of My Professionalism Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Way before I started writing about food, I was in love with it and cooking up gourmet dishes on a daily basis. It was a dozen years of solid practice, constant learning and culinary evolution that got my chops to the point where my recipes scored me time on Food Network and ignited my passion to the point where I simply had to make the jump to doing something professionally with food - in my case, writing about it and the state of the plate in my hometown.
It's a time consuming gig, but I'd never complain. It's a privilege to get to do this and I don't take it lightly. It takes a great deal of time, so much in fact that most of the time, my stove-top and kitchenware stand dormant in a lonely kitchen. Even with lots less time to do it these days, cooking is still my favorite thing in the world. But, make no mistake. I haven't turned in my pen and press pass for a pair of chef's whites in an attempt to get back to my roots via a massive career change.
I've received several queries over the past several months asking if I'm the new guy on the garde manger station at the Rancho Bernardo Inn's find dining restaurant, El Bizcocho (pictured below.) Were you to hit this spot for dinner and peruse the menu, you'd see my moniker staring back at you from the bottom right-hand corner of the menu, but as great a job as I'm sure that is, it's not me. But it is someone I'm pretty familiar with...through Facebook.
Before graduating high school my namely doppelganger reached out over the social networking site and decided since we had the same name we should be cyber pals. As it turns out, we had more than just a handle in common. This Brandon Hernandez also liked to cook and wanted to pursue a career in the culinary arts. I gave him some tidbits of advice about the industry and, over the course of the next year, he'd hit me up every now and then to say "hi" or ask about some of the restaurants I'd checked out.
By the time I sat down to check out the new menu at El Biz three months ago, it'd been some time since my last communiqué with him, but when my eyes scanned to the last line of the menu, I knew exactly who had worked his way into the restaurant's kitchen. He got in touch with me and told me he'd gotten a job at one of RBI's other eateries and worked super hard, to the point where they decided to promote him to the white linen league. Although we've never met, I was very proud of him and can't help but hope that someday there's an article by this Brandon Hernández about a stellar exec chef named Brandon Hernandez. It's pleasing to know that not only a passion for food, but a rock solid work ethic, are truly the common threads that link us.
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