Have You Eaten Yet?

Chef Jorge Guzmán: A Conversation From Petite León in Minneapolis

April 22, 2022 Kassata Bollman / Chef Jorge Guzmán Episode 25
Have You Eaten Yet?
Chef Jorge Guzmán: A Conversation From Petite León in Minneapolis
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This Episode Features Chef Jorge Guzmán.
He Joins Us From Minneapolis.

Currently He’s Chef & Owner Of  Petite León.
He Also Owns & Runs Pollo Pollo Al Carbon.
He’s Also A Partner And Executive Chef Of A Fine Dining Mexican Restaurant Called Sueño In Dayton Ohio.

Guzmán’s Style Of Cooking Is Progressive, Drawing From Many Traditions Not Limited To But Including French, Spanish, African, And Middle Eastern.

Time Spent At His Grandmother's Home In Mexico Also Has An Influence On His Current Concepts.
Most Recently He’s Been Named As A Finalist For A James Beard Award For Best Chef Midwest For 2022.

We Discuss:

✅  The Crossroads Of Having Your Food Define You As A Chef While Continuously Evolving And Changing Perspective.

✅  Looking At How Things Happen For Us Not To Us.

✅  The Importance Of Listening To Your Gut Feeling.

https://www.instagram.com/jorgeguzman1/?hl=en

https://petiteleonmpls.com/about

[[MUSIC]]


I’M KASSATA BOLLMAN. 

TODAY MY GUEST IS CHEF JORGE GUZMÁN.

HE JOINS US FROM MINNEAPOLIS.


WHERE...CURRENTLY….. HE’S CHEF & OWNER OF  PETITE LEÓN….A NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT WHERE…MEXICAN COMFORT FOOD….. MEETS FINE DINING.


HE ALSO OWNS & RUNS… POLLO POLLO AL CARBON…A GHOST KITCHEN CONCEPT…. OPERATING OUT OF THE SAME KITCHEN….. AS PETITE LEÓN.


THIS TAKEOUT VENTURE FOCUSES ON…..WHOLE CHICKENS COOKED ON CHARCOAL FIRE….


HE’S ALSO A PARTNER….. AND EXECUTIVE CHEF….. OF A FINE DINING MEXICAN RESTAURANT…. CALLED SUEÑO….. IN DAYTON OHIO.


GUZMÁN’S STYLE OF COOKING IS PROGRESSIVE….DRAWING FROM MANY TRADITIONS….NOT LIMITED TO…..BUT INCLUDING…. FRENCH, SPANISH, AFRICAN, AND MIDDLE EASTERN.

TIME SPENT AT HIS GRANDMOTHER'S HOME IN MEXICO….. ALSO HAS AN INFLUENCE….. ON HIS CURRENT CONCEPTS.

MOST RECENTLY….. HE’S BEEN NAMED AS A FINALIST…. FOR A JAMES BEARD AWARD FOR BEST CHEF….MIDWEST…FOR 2022.

TODAY WE’LL BE DISCUSSING….

 

THE CROSSROADS OF HAVING YOUR FOOD DEFINE YOU AS A CHEF… WHILE CONTINUOUSLY EVOLVING………….AND …..CHANGING PERSPECTIVE: LOOKING AT HOW THINGS HAPPEN FOR US…NOT TO US……………PLUS….. THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING TO YOUR GUT FEELING…..

SO I’LL START BY ASKING…..AS WE ALWAYS DO….CHEF GUZMÁN….. “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?”......THIS COULD BE A MEAL FROM TODAY …..OR A CUP OF COFFEE THAT YOU’RE DRINKING NOW…. …...OR….. IT COULD BE …...THE LAST MEAL…. THAT YOU HAVE A REALLY GREAT MEMORY ABOUT…..ONE THAT TRULY RESONATED WITH YOU…..IT COULD BE ONE FROM 10 YEARS AGO….. OR ANYTIME….

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]


 

MINNEAPOLIS

 

WE’RE GOING TO START AT THE BEGINNING ……AFTER CULINARY SCHOOL YOU END UP IN MINNEAPOLIS. ……YOU WORK AT A HANDFUL OF DIFFERENT RESTAURANTS….. AND THEN 

IN 2014… YOU LAND AT THE SURLY BEER HALL….AS EXECUTIVE CHEF.

YOU’RE LEADING A TEAM OF 75 PEOPLE….. AND THIS GROUP IS UNIQUE…THEY’RE ALL DEDICATED, PASSIONATE AND LIKE-MINDED….YOU’RE IN A REALLY POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT.

IN 2015….YOU OPEN SURLY’S BREWER’S TABLE….THE GOAL WAS TO CREATE  THE COUNTRY’S BEST… BEER-PAIRING RESTAURANT. 

IN 2016….BREWER’S TABLE WAS NAMED…. ONE OF THE 10 BEST NEW RESTAURANTS…. BY FOOD & WINE MAGAZINE.

IN 2017…. YOU’RE A FINALIST FOR A JAMES BEARD AWARD…. AS BEST CHEF MIDWEST. 

IT APPEARS THAT YOU WERE LASER FOCUSED ON BENCHMARKS…..AND YOU ACHIEVED YOUR GOALS RAPID FIRE…YEAR AFTER YEAR…I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO REFLECT ON THAT TIME IN YOUR LIFE….I HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS ROLLED INTO THE GENERAL TOPIC…. OF WANTING TO HEAR….. HOW YOU DID ALL OF THIS WITHIN 3 YEARS?….

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A NATURAL LEADER?.....DID YOU HAVE A PUBLICIST HELP GET YOU INTO FOOD & WINE….. AND NOMINATED FOR A JAMES BEARD AWARD? 

I'M TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW BIG…OR SMALL THIS TEAM WAS….TO ACHIEVE SO MUCH…SO FAST……..

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

 

GAME OVER

 

DESPITE ALL THAT SUCCESS…..WITHIN MONTHS….THE RESTAURANT SHUTS DOWN….

 

THE OWNERS DON’T GIVE ANY ANSWERS.

 

IN THAT MOMENT…. YOU REALIZE THAT YOUR IDENTITY WAS WRAPPED UP IN WHAT YOU WERE DOING…. IN YOUR FOOD….. AND IN YOUR TEAM…… 

 

WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE FOR YOU? 

 

AND…TODAY…DO YOU MOVE THROUGH LIFE ANY DIFFERENT? 

 

DID THAT EXPERIENCE TEACH YOU TO CREATE BALANCE AND BOUNDARIES….. BETWEEN YOUR WORK LIFE….AND PERSONAL LIFE?.......OR DO YOU TAKE A HYBRID APPROACH?

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

IN A PREVIOUS ARTICLE YOU SAID QUOTE:

 

“THAT FEELING THAT BREAKS YOUR SPIRIT…YOUR HEART….. AND YOUR RESOLVE….. I HAD THOSE FEELINGS…… DAY IN AND DAY OUT….. FOR TWO YEARS….. WITHOUT FAIL.”

 

IF YOU’RE A HUMAN LIVING ON THIS PLANET…CHANCES ARE YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH TOUGH TIMES LIKE THIS….I KNOW I HAVE……

 

BUT I ALSO KNOW THAT ……. SOMEONE COULD BE LISTENING TO THIS AND THINKING…… “THAT’S HOW I FEEL….RIGHT NOW”......

 

IF YOU DON’T MIND….. I’D LIKE FOR YOU TO GO BACK TO THOSE TWO YEARS….AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU SURVIVED MENTALLY?........ 

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

 

TRUSTING YOU GUT

DURING THIS TIME YOU HAD LOTS OF MEETINGS…..YOU KNEW THAT YOU NEEDED TO BE CAREFUL…..AFTER THE LAST RESTAURANT THAT YOU GAVE YOUR BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS TO……ABRUPTLY CLOSED…….

BUT IN THE MEANTIME…..A YEAR FLIES BY…..

AN OPPORTUNITY ARRIVES….WHERE YOU WOULD HAVE OWNERSHIP IN A RESTAURANT…..SO YOU MOVE TO WISCONSIN….. AND BECOME A PARTNER IN A NEW PROJECT. 

TODAY YOU’RE OUTSPOKEN……. THAT IN RETROSPECT……. YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO YOUR GUT INSTINCT……AND PASSED ON THIS JOB.

HERE’S WHAT YOU SAID IN A PREVIOUS ARTICLE:

QUOTE:  “ON MY VERY FIRST DAY….IT BECAME PAINFULLY CLEAR I’D MADE A MISTAKE. THIS MAN WITH HIS GRANDIOSE PLANS….. HAD NO ABILITY TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN. ……..IT WAS THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE THAT I FELT AN ACUTE STRESS RESPONSE…… AND IT WAS TELLING ME TO RUN LIKE HELL….” 

THAT ENDED UP BEING 11 MONTHS….. OF EMPTY PROMISES….AND  LIES. WHICH ULTIMATELY LED TO YOUR FAMILY LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK….. 

I THINK IT’S HUMAN INSTINCT…. THAT IN A MOMENT THAT OUR MIND FEELS EVEN A GLIMPSE OF DESPERATION…… IT GOES STRAIGHT INTO HUSTLE MODE…..IN YOUR CASE…IT PUSHED YOU TO WISCONSIN…..BUT….THANKS TO YOUR JOURNEY…. TODAY YOU’RE BLESSING US…. WITH FIRST HAND LIFE EXPERIENCE….THAT CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE…. ALL OF OUR LIVES….……LOOKING BACK AT THAT TIME …. FEELING STUCK IN A TOXIC ENVIRONMENT…..CAN YOU DESCRIBE THAT GUT INSTINCT…AND THAT ACUTE STRESS RESPONSE…. THAT WAS TELLING YOU TO “RUN LIKE HELL”? 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

FEELING STUCK

WHEN YOU’RE IN THIS JOB AND FEELING STUCK….

YOU STARTED COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER CHEFS….. IN THE INDUSTRY…. AND STARTED FEELING….. THAT YOU WEREN’T DOING ENOUGH…..THAT YOU’D BE FORGOTTEN……

THIS REMINDS ME OF A QUOTE:

“IM-PATIENCE IS A SIGN OF HURRYING….HURRYING IS A SIGN OF WORRYING…..WORRYING IS A SIGN OF FEAR……AND FEAR….. IS A SIGN THAT YOU’VE TEMPORARILY FORGOTTEN…… THAT IT’S NEVER TOO LATE……. TO CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS….AND THEREFORE….. CHANGE YOUR THINGS…..”

HOW DID YOU CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS?

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THINGS HAPPENING FOR YOU… NOT TO YOU

FINALLY YOU REACH YOUR BREAKING POINT…YOU CONFRONT YOUR PARTNER’S FAMILY…. AND YOU TELL THEM QUOTE:

“IF MY WIFE WEREN’T EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT….. AND I DIDN’T NEED THE INSURANCE….. I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU ALL TO GO FUCK YOURSELVES…. A LONG TIME AGO.”

YOU WERE FIRED THREE DAYS LATER. 

BUT….. YOU FELT AMAZING…..LIKE THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD HAD BEEN LIFTED OFF OF YOU.

I’M A FIRM BELIEVER THAT IN LIFE….THINGS HAPPEN FOR US….NOT TO US….I’VE SEEN IT FIRST HAND….. AND HAVE LIVED IT TOO MANY TIMES….

WHERE SOMETHING SEEMINGLY NEGATIVE HAPPENS…..AND THEN 6 MONTHS LATER I SAY…….. “OH….THAT’S WHY THAT HAPPENED”…..

AND THEN I CLEARLY SEE THE BEAUTY OF THE PATH….. THAT WAS CARVED OUT FOR ME….

NOW THAT BELIEF IS INGRAINED IN ME…..SO IT ALLOWS ME TO LIVE LIFE WITHOUT EXPECTATIONS…..AND WHEN SHIT HAPPENS….I DON’T FIGHT IT….AND I TRY MY BEST….. TO NOT ATTACH ANY EMOTIONS TO IT……

YOU SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH…..GRANTED YOU FREEDOM….. TO LEAVE THAT TOXIC PLACE……AND ALLOWED YOU TO RETURN…. TO THE TWIN CITIES… TO DO POP-UPS….BASED ON YOUR CHARCOAL-GRILLED CHICKEN IDEA…. 

LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR HOMECOMING….. TO THE CITY THAT YOU LOVE…. AND TRYING TO FIND A PERMANENT HOME FOR YOUR POP-UP…. 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

LIFE CHANGING TEXT

WHILE YOU’RE STILL IN WISCONSIN YOU RECONNECT WITH A CHEF FRIEND….YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT HOW THE CULTURE OF THE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO CHANGE. 

A FEW WEEKS LATER….HE TEXTS YOU…. 

THAT DAY YOU BECOME PARTNERS…YOU GUYS START FORMING TWO THINGS:

A PLAN TO OPEN A RESTAURANT… AND…..A VISION…. FOR THE CULTURE THAT YOU BOTH WANT TO CREATE. 

YOU REFER TO THAT INITIAL TEXT….. AS A LIFE-CHANGING TEXT….IT PROVIDED A LIGHT….. AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL.

THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF WHEN THINGS BEGIN TO FLOW FOR YOU…. 

YOU WERE DRIVING BACK TO WISCONSIN….. AND HAPPENED TO SEE A FOR LEASE SIGN…. IN THE WINDOW OF A VACANT SPACE…

FOUR MONTHS LATER… YOUR RESTAURANT, PETITE LEÓN… WAS UNDERWAY….

PLEASE TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FORMED YOUR HOSPITALITY GROUP….AND WHAT THE ULTIMATE PLAN WAS….. 

IN COMBINING AS A GROUP…… TO BOTH ACHIEVE YOUR INDIVIDUAL GOALS ….WHILE ALSO SHAKING UP THE INDUSTRY….. AS A WHOLE?

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

 

MORE THAN A JOB

IN THE PAST TWO YEARS OUR INDUSTRY HAS TAKEN A MAJOR HIT….SO MANY PEOPLE LEFT THE INDUSTRY….WE KEEP SEEING THE HEADLINE ….

”THE GREAT RESIGNATION”....MANY PEOPLE SAYING…. “I WANT TO WORK FROM HOME”....

HERE’S WHAT I THINK...... IT WOULD APPEAR… THAT MANY OF THESE DEPARTURES WERE FROM MILLENNIALS….ESPECIALLY WHITE  MILLENIALS……..PERHAPS FROM A MIDDLE…. TO UPPER MIDDLE CLASS BACKGROUND….. WHO THOUGHT THIS INDUSTRY WAS COOL AND TRENDY….. FOR THE LAST 10-15 YEARS …..

PRIVILEGE WAS THE UNDERTONE OF THEIR TIME IN THIS INDUSTRY…..AND THE PANDEMIC WAS A RESET…..TODAY IT SHOWS YOU WHO’S LEFT…..AND……MOST IMPORTANTLY …..WHO IS STILL HERE…… 

THOSE OF US WHO ARE STILL HERE…. UNDERSTAND….. THAT THIS IS MORE THAN A JOB……AND IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL…..FULFILLING PROFESSION….. THAT WE NAVIGATE EACH DAY…..IT’S AN ARTFORM….

I’M GOING TO QUOTE YOU NOW:

“HOW DO YOU STOP CARING…. ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAS BECOME PART OF YOUR IDENTITY? 

IT’S MORE THAN A JOB….. I’M A CHEF TO MY CORE, AND I DON’T SEE HOW I COULD BE ANYTHING ELSE.”

PLEASE EXPAND ON THAT IDEA….  

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

HEALTHY & SUSTAINABLE WORK ENVIRONMENT

AFTER 24 YEARS…. IN THIS INDUSTRY.....NOW YOU’RE CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT….. WHERE PEOPLE CAN THRIVE, LEARN, TEACH, AND BE SUPPORTED…. 

YOU’RE FOCUSING ON OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT…. FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR…… AND WOMEN…… 

YOU’RE BUILDING A WORKPLACE WHERE EVERYONE…. FROM THE BARTENDER….. TO THE DISHWASHER….. EARNS A LIVING WAGE…… AND HAS A VOICE…. IN ALL DECISIONS.

EACH CHECK…. INCLUDES AN 18 PERCENT SERVICE CHARGE….WHICH CONTRIBUTES…. TO EMPLOYEE SALARIES…..

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS TODAY? 

ARE YOU SUCCESSFULLY…… CREATING A HEALTHY & SUSTAINABLE WORK ENVIRONMENT?

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

CROSSROADS

LAST OCTOBER YOU WROTE A POST ON INSTAGRAM THAT DREW ME IN….IT WAS AN EXCERPT FROM A CONVERSATION….. THAT YOU WERE HAVING WITH YOUR PREP COOK….I’M GOING TO READ PART OF IT NOW….

“WE SPOKE AT LENGTH ABOUT HOW WHEN ART BECOMES MONETIZED IT LOSES ITS HEART AND SOUL.

IT’S SOMETHING THAT WE BOTH KEEP IN THE BACK OF OUR MINDS AS COOKS. I TOLD HIM THAT I FEEL MY FOOD IS IN FLUX…..CAUGHT BETWEEN WHAT WAS, WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO….. AND WHO I AM AS A CHEF.

I WANT TO MAKE FOOD THAN WHEN IT GETS TO YOUR TABLE IS DELICIOUS, IDENTIFIABLE….. AND STILL GIVES YOU THOUGHT…. AND PAUSE.

I WANT MY FOOD TO IMPRESS….. BUT AT THE SAME TIME….. MAKE YOU FEEL SO AT EASE….. THAT IT BECOMES A SECOND THOUGHT…. UNTIL HOURS LATER. 

IT’S CHALLENGING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE MY FOOD AT PETITE IS EVOLVING INTO THE SPACE…..INTO MY TEAM…… AND INTO WHERE I AM AS A CHEF. 

IT’S ALSO EXCITING TO BE IN THIS TRANSITION AND ACTUALLY BE AWARE…. THAT I’M GOING THROUGH IT. 

IT’S NOT EASY HAVING YOUR FOOD DEFINE YOU AS A CHEF….. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU MIGHT BE EVOLVING….. INTO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.” 

THAT’S A BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTION…..I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO DIVE A LITTLE DEEPER INTO THIS CROSSROADS…. OF HAVING YOUR FOOD DEFINE YOU AS A CHEF…… YET CONTINUOUSLY EVOLVE….

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

INSPIRATION

HOW DO YOU CONTINUE TO FIND INSPIRATION EACH YEAR  ?......

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

 

FUTURE

WHAT DOES YOUR IDEAL FUTURE LOOK LIKE ?......

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

SYNCHRONICITIES



HAVE THERE EVER BEEN ANY SIGNS OR SYNCHRONICITIES IN YOUR LIFE…. THAT LED TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU….. IN THIS INDUSTRY? ……. 


IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE MOMENT….



[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]



FLOW STATE:



A FLOW STATE, ALSO KNOWN AS BEING IN THE ZONE…. IS THE MENTAL STATE WHEN A PERSON IS PERFORMING AN ACTIVITY….. AND IS FULLY IMMERSED…. IN A FEELING OF ENERGIZED FOCUS, CLARITY  AND ENJOYMENT…. IN THE ENTIRE PROCESS…..


IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK….IT’S EFFORTLESS ATTENTION….. THAT YOU’RE GIVING THE ACTIVITY…..IT’S A EUPHORIC FEELING… 


IT’S DURING THIS ALTERED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS…. THAT YOUR MIND FUNCTIONS… AT ITS PEAK….AND A SENSE OF HAPPINESS… FLOWS THROUGH YOUR BODY.


I’VE BEEN IN THIS STATE….


HERE’S THE EXAMPLE I USE FOR MY GUESTS:


I CAN GET INTO IT….. IF I’M AT MY RESTAURANT WHEN IT’S CLOSED…. AND I’M THE ONLY ONE THERE….I MIGHT BE WORKING ON NEW DRINKS FOR MY MENU….MUSIC IS PLAYING….

THERE ARE NO INTERRUPTIONS…JUST ME, INGREDIENTS….. AND THE SOUNDS…. AND  BEATS…. OF THE MUSIC...


AND THE RECIPES FLOW….IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK….



AS A CHEF, HAVE YOU EVER REACHED THIS STATE ?.....


IF YOU HAVE….PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR SURROUNDINGS…. LEADING IT UP TO IT….



AND WHAT IT FELT LIKE…. BEING IN THAT STATE?


 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]

 

 

TAKEAWAY:


CHEF GUZMÁN, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US …


I BELIEVE THAT THE JOURNEY…. IS ALWAYS GREATER THAN THE DESTINATION. 


IT’S ON THE PATH THAT WE LEARN….EVOLVE AND….. ENCOUNTER LESSONS…. THAT SHAPE US…. INTO OUR BEST SELVES.


I ALWAYS LIKE ENDING THE PODCAST…. BY ASKING…. IF THERE’S ANY TAKEAWAY THAT YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE WITH LISTENERS…... THAT CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THEIR LIVES.


IT COULD BE SOMETHING THAT WE JUST DISCUSSED…. A LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED ON YOUR JOURNEY…. OR GENERAL LIFE ADVICE THAT YOU LIVE BY ….…


 

 

[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]



AND WHERE CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU  ?



[[CHEF GUZMÁN DISCUSSES]]




OUTRO:


THANKS FOR LISTENING….AND IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY….... FOLLOW  “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?” ….WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS….




[[MUSIC]]


 



MINNEAPOLIS
GAME OVER
TRUSTING YOU GUT
FEELING STUCK
THINGS HAPPENING FOR YOU… NOT TO YOU
LIFE CHANGING TEXT
MORE THAN A JOB
HEALTHY & SUSTAINABLE WORK ENVIRONMENT
CROSSROADS
INSPIRATION
FUTURE
SYNCHRONICITIES
FLOW STATE
TAKEAWAY