Homaro's Open Road

HOMARO CANTU

Chef/Inventor
Moto Restaurant

“As long as you’re passionate and can find your creative niche, there’s nothing that you can’t achieve. I know that sounds cliché and ridiculous, but this place [Moto] is living proof. The answers are out there, we just have to tap into them.”

INTERESTS:

Food Science

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Dedication Determination Focus Hard Work Negativity Perseverance Simplicity Struggle Chance Passion

TAGS:

commitment, cooking, creativity, culinary school, guidance, inventing, Iron Chef, learning, living out of a car, new york times, nothing comes easy, solving problems, start small, time, unemployment, what if, work for free

BIOGRAPHY:

Chef Homaro Cantu’s career in food ranges from the fast to the futurist. And the thing that took him from frying fish at a fast food restaurant to attempting daring feats of molecular gastronomy was his intense curiosity. Homaro remembers back to when he was 12 and his dad made him mow their huge lawn every week. He was sick of it, and he broke the lawn mower open so he wouldn’t have to do it anymore. But what he found inside was pretty interesting--and messing with that lawn mower’s engine started a lifelong obsession with inventing. Homaro liked cooking, too, and after high school graduation, he found himself working at the aforementioned fast-food fish restaurant and living in his car. One of the line cooks noticed his talent and suggested that Homaro should come to culinary school with him--he even offered a free spot on his couch. So Homaro went to culinary school for a year, then he dropped out and started working at any restaurant he could for free. He even knocked on the back (kitchen) door of his chef-idol Charlie Trotter. He worked for Trotter (paid, eventually!) until he started his own restaurant, Moto. In the year leading up to Moto’s grand opening, Homaro’s wife supported him financially--and that meant supporting his gadget habit. During that year, she let him to buy any gadget he wanted so he could take it apart and put it back together to make new things. “You have to tweak it on your own time to make it fun,” he says. That love of innovation is still what drives his art. “To cultivate that kind of environment took a lot of dues-paying,” he says, “and we made it work. For a kid who barely made it through culinary school, I think it’s OK. I consider this living my dream, so I’ve got no complaints.”

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