Neckties, barbecue tools, and Hallmark card platitudes have become de rigueur around about the third Sunday in June. Most dads, like most moms, will agree that any recognition of their parental dedication is more than welcome. Nevertheless, the true essence of Father’s Day is to simply celebrate the contributions of fathers, and father figures, to their children’s lives. With some fathers trading briefcases for diaper bags, a modern dad struggles as much as a mother to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Enter the chef and/or chef/restaurateur; much like parenting, this is a daily round-the-clock commitment. When the buck stops with you, there are no days off. Working evenings, weekends, and holidays renders family time even more precious. Much like balancing flavors, harmonizing work life and family life can be delectable and rewarding. We rounded up three chef fathers to talk about Father’s Day and what being a dad means to them.
Martin Rios, executive chef + proprietor, Restaurant Martin, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin in Santa Fe seems to have struck a copacetic balance between work and family. A James Beard nominee for Best Chef in the Southwest, Rios and his wife, Jennifer, who is also his business partner, are doing more than preparing outstanding progressive American cuisine; they are raising two teenage daughters. Emma and Annaliese, 17 and 14 respectively, have spent many an hour back-of-the-house with their parents. Does Rios see them following in his footsteps? “No, I am not encouraging them to follow in my footsteps. If this is the path they choose, I will, of course, support them, but whatever they choose to do is what I will encourage. They do help in the kitchen at home and at work, but we are hardly at home since we are owned by a restaurant!”
With culinary arts taking center stage in this family, the proverbial apple might not have fallen far from the tree. Rios, who is also his own pastry chef, is proud of his oldest daughter Emma’s baking prowess. “Emma, has become an inspired baker and always has an eye on a beautiful presentation,” explains Rios. Conversely, Rios’ younger daughter, Anneliese “has become as close to a vegan as she can get!”
How is the Rios family going to celebrate Father’s Day? “By working! Our restaurant is always open on holidays and Father’s Day is no exception. We will work and then eat together as a family at the restaurant.”
Michael Schwartz, chef + founder, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami, Florida
James Beard Award-winning chef/restaurateur Michael Schwartz of Miami’s Genuine Hospitality Group, which includes Schwartz’s flagship, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, is the father of “the three best kids on earth; Harry is 12, Lulu is 15, and Ella, my eldest is 18.” Schwartz hails from a family where neither parent did any cooking. “Dad did encourage me to get that first restaurant job. I started out as a busser, and the kitchen lured me in pretty quickly. Today, Schwartz’s children are intricately involved in everything he does, both at home and in his career. Ella and Harry have namesake eateries: ella, a casual pop-up cafe serving breakfast and lunch in Palm Court, in Miami’s Design District, and Harry’s Pizzeria, also in the Design District. Lulu might not have a restaurant named after her, but she does have bottles of wine. Lua Rossa is a California red that is blended annually with Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat winery in Santa Barbara. Lulu is not only the inspiration, but the designer of the label.Continue Reading