• Columnists

Chef Edgar Alvarez, Avenida Restaurant

COLUMN = FOOD

I grew up in Guatemala, and the thing that is etched in my memory is the scene of my grandmother, aunts, and mother preparing a meal at my grandmother’s ranch outside the city. It was an all-day affair, for we were a giant family and when breakfast ended, all the women in the family would go off to the market to buy the freshest produce, meat, and fish for lunch and dinner. They did not have much to spend, but la comida was always full of love and flavor.

I remember my mother plucking fresh chickens in the yard. She would cut up tons of vegetables and then toss everything in a giant pot. It would simmer just long enough to bring out the most mouthwatering flavors.

She was truly an amazing chef, although she would never consider herself one. But she taught me everything I know. I watched closely the way she would add some of this and not too much of that. She gave me a love for good, healthy, hearty food just like the kind I prepare today.

When I came to this country, I worked as a sous chef at some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, including the original Dock Street, the four-star restaurant The Striped Bass, and the gourmet Chinese restaurant, Susanna Foo. I had the opportunity to work under the excellent chefs who cooked there, as well as Phillippe Chin and Keong Bahn, when I worked at Phillippe.

After fine-tuning my skills, I was ready to go off on my own in 1999 and became the head chef at The Black Sheep near Rittenhouse Square. Although Irish pub cuisine was new to me, I decided to mix what I knew well with traditional pub-grub recipes. On opening we served elegant comfort food that received rave reviews, and later several awards from Philadelphia magazine’s “Best Of” series, among others.

What I love about being a chef is that there is always something new and different to learn. And after I married my wife, Chef Kim Katz Alvarez, and we had our beautiful children, Emma and Alejandro, we moved to the suburbs and I was eager to see what the Main Line had to offer. I was not disappointed.

In 2004, we bought the Delaware Market House in Gladwyne, a 100-year-old establishment with a wonderful history that Kim and I turned into one of the most unique gourmet markets and catering companies in the region, as CNN Money noted. We closed the Market in March and soon after began working on opening our new restaurant, Avenida.

The goal for me as head chef at this new Latin American restaurant is to bring my childhood memories to life for my kids and my customers. I hope that everyone I cook for thoroughly enjoys their food, and leaves the table with a renewed zest for all that life has to offer.

For more information about Avenida, visit www.avenidarestaurant.com. And to make a reservation to sample the fine Latin American dishes that are getting rave reviews, call Kim Katz Alvarez at 267.385.6857.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

– Seneca

Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.”

– Noela Evans

I have spent a good part of my life convincing people that a blank sheet of paper is the greatest opportunity in the world, and not frightening at all.”

– Marty Skler, executive vp, Walt Disney Imagineering

There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.”

– J. Robert Oppenheimer

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

– Groucho Marx

Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”

– Corita Kent

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leo Jozef Suenens

There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

– Christopher Morley

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

– Christopher Robin to Pooh

I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.”

– John D. Rockefeller

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.
 Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

The person who makes a success of living is the one who see his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”

– Cecil B. DeMille

The best hobbies are the ones that take us furthest from our primary occupation.”

– Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Dexter

Never cut what you can untie.”

– Joseph Joubert

We never know how high we are
 till we are called to rise;
 And then, if we are true to plan,
 Our statures touch the skies.”

– Emily Dickinson

Passion makes perfect.”

– Eugene Biro

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

– Annie Dillard

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

– Robert Frost

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

– Eckhart Tolle

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

– Jalaluddin Rumi

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

– Steve Jobs

When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

– Audre Lorde

But all the while I was alone, the past was close behind, I seen a lot of women, but she never escaped my mind, and I just grew, tangled up in blue.”

– Bob Dylan

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

– Anita Roddick

You must learn to be still in the midst of activity 
and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”

– Indira Ghandi

Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading.”

– Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

– Henry Miller

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only way to compel men to speak good of us is to do it.”

– Voltaire

An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.“


– Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries

Success is the necessary misfortune of life, but it is only to the very unfortunate that it comes early.”

– Anthony Trollope

If people like you they’ll listen to you; if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

– Zig Ziglar

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

– Dalai Lama

A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.”

– Albert Schweitzer

How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

– Diane Lane

The only dream worth having is to live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead.”

– Arundhati Roy

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

– JFK

The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”

– William James

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. 
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

– Mary Jean Irion

A man without a smiling face
 should not open a shop.”

– Chinese Proverb

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

– Robert Frost

The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

4oz tequila + 1oz TripleSec + 2oz lime juice + 1oz simple syrup (sugar=water), 1 cup crushed ice. Shake + dance around the kitchen.

– Avenida Margarita

Never never never never give up.”

– Winston Churchill

Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

– Steven Schussler

Letting go of expectations is a ticket to peace. It allows us to ride over every crisis—small or large—like a beach ball on water.”

– Martha Beck