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Chef Jose Garces discusses culinary industry with tourism and hospitality students

September 13th, 2012 by Carl O'Donnell

Media Contact: Brandon Lausch, 215-204-4115,

Jose Garces, the celebrity chef and award-winning owner of the Garces Group, was the latest high-profile figure to participate in the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management's Executive in Residence program, which connects students directly to industry leaders. Garces discussed the growth of the city's culinary scene, his ascent from sous chef to business leader and his approach to safeguarding secret recipes (there's no way to keep them secret) before a standing-room-only crowd of 150 students, faculty and staff in Alter Hall on Sept. 11.

The restaurateur's presentation was moderated by Paul Levy, president and CEO of Philadelphia's Center City District, organizer of the city's annual Restaurant Week.

"Restaurant-goers [in Philadelphia] are savvy. They want a unique experience that comes from chef-driven concepts," Garces said of the growth of Philadelphia's independently owned restaurants, which Levy noted have increased from 62 in 1992 to 278 today. Garces also discussed his plan to reintegrate cooking into his day-to-day routine by establishing a "jewel box" restaurant in the Kimmel Center by early 2013 where he can personally cook for about 20 people a few times per week. Prior to a question-and-answer session, Garces and Levy were introduced by STHM Associate Dean Elizabeth Barber and two seniors majoring in tourism and hospitality management, Sara Mireles-Garay and Natasha Saleh. Mireles-Garay noted that Garces was a 2009 winner of a James Beard Foundation's prestigious Best Chef Mid-Atlantic Award and is one of only eight chefs in the country to hold the coveted title Iron Chef. Garces opened his first restaurant in 2005 and has become one of the nation's most notable restaurateurs, operating 15 acclaimed restaurants in five cities. His Philadelphia restaurants are Amada, Chifa, Distrito, Garces Trading Co., JG Domestic, Tinto, Village Whiskey and the Mexican food truck Guapos Tacos.

The Executive in Residence event came in advance of this year's Center City District Restaurant Week, which is scheduled for Sept. 30 to Oct. 5 and from Oct. 7 to Oct. 12.

"STHM tries very hard to bring executives and people of high stature in the industries of sport, recreation, tourism and hospitality," Barber said. "This allows students to meet the most influential leaders in their industry and network with people they may never have otherwise met."