Chef News

Chef Lester Gonzalez of Cowboy Ciao on Last Year's Bankruptcy and Who to Look Out For In His Kitchen

Page 3 of 3

As far as his own future, he's got things in mind beyond what he's doing now. We weren't surprised to find out the family-oriented guy wants to move closer to his hometown. We were surprised to learn that he wants to open up, of all things, a sandwich shop.

As much as Gonzalez might love the culinary trade, he's clearly über-passionate about the simply beauty of a good sandwich. He speaks highly of the ability to be creative in Cowboy Ciao's "experimental kitchen," but when you get him talking about the subject of sandwiches, it's clear he's put a good amount of thought into this, too.

He swoons -- at least a little -- over the Combo sandwich at Miracle Mile Deli, which comes with both pastrami and corned beef, and he gives a solid stamp of approval to Jersey Mike's sandwiches -- provided you order them Mike's Way.

And if that seems a little strange for a trained chef to want to spend his days building sandwiches, it will make a lot more sense when you learn that his deli dreams tie back to family.

"I told my parents I wanted something for the family," he says, mentioning after that his mother passed away this Mother's Day. "I'm a huge family person; that's where my heart is."

Before we wrapped up, we asked whom we should be keeping an eye out for in the Cowboy Ciao kitchen. Gonzalez points to a young looking guy in all black, Garrison Whiting, his sous chef.

"That guy," he says seriously. "He's got his head on right, creative and knowledgeable. He's hard knocks right there. He's one you're probably going to hear about."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria