Shaun Garcia – The Past Meets the Future
by Lynne Brandon
Greenville – S.C. As a small boy, Shaun Garcia thought working in a kitchen was boring. As a man he learned serving good food was about hospitality and taking care of people. Like many in the restaurant business, the Chef de Cuisine at Soby’s and The Loft at Soby’s, Shaun learned to cook from family. Shaun learned about the lost art of canning or “putting up,” at the hands of his great-grandmother and grandmother who pickled and preserved food in the great tradition of the South. He recalled asking his grandmother for advice with making pear preserves,” said Garcia. “She said she would be right over to show me. It couldn’t be described over the phone.” Now he ascribes to the same philosophy. “You have to experience food by smelling it, feeling it, tasting it and seeing it.”
Shaun breaks from tradition when it comes to sharing recipes. “It is the greatest compliment so I pass them on if someone asks,” said Garcia. I took him up on that, and he was happy to share the recipe for the creamiest, smoothest grits I have tasted.
The Southern chef is proud of his heritage and likes to cook up a little history lesson with his food. Bourbon is a celebrated libation in his sauces and was highlighted during Derby week in a mint julep BBQ sauce, Bourbon sauce for smoked shoulders, Bourbon Chocolate Cake and other recipes. “Bourbon shows America’s spirit at its best,” said Shaun. “Farmer’s grow and cut the corn and use oak barrels for storage. It has America all over it.”