• 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.

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

– Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop

A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”

– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

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

– Benjamin Disraeli

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Never never never never give up.”

– Winston Churchill

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

– John D. Rockefeller

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

Women once had the goal of being Superwoman; I think most of us now simply strive to have a super day.”

– Author, Activist Lee Woodruff

Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”

– Madam C.J. Walker

Ripeness is all.”

– William Shakespeare

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

– Seneca

A person who learns to juggle six balls will be more skilled than the person who never tries to juggle more than three.”

– Marilyn vos Savant

Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make Me Feel Important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

– Mary Kay Ash

You take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
 A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

– Erica Jong

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. 
Now put foundations under them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

That which grows fast withers as rapidly; that which grows slowly endures.”

– J.G. Holland, novelist

The best reason to start an organization is to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”

– Guy Kawasaki

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

– Leon Joseph Suenens

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

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

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

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

– Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Dexter

As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning to sail my ship.”

– Louisa May Alcott

Traveling is one way of lengthening life, at least in appearance.”

– Benjamin Franklin

To follow, without halt, one aim: There’s the secret of success.”

– Anna Pavlova

Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation that indicate opportunities for success.”

– Peter F. Drucker

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

– John Quincy Adams

‎That which grows fast withers as rapidly; that which grows slowly endures.”

– J.G. Holland, novelist

The goal of Life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with nature.”

– Joseph Cambell

If it really was a no-brainer to make it on your own in business there’d be millions of no-brained, harebrained individuals quitting their day jobs.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

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

– Henry Miller

If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”

– Joseph Addison

My goal was to tell the life side of the story. We have become a nation of voyeurs that expect sensationalism, and that offends me.”

– Kathleen Jo Ryan

If it isn’t good, let it die. If it doesn’t die, make it good.”

– Ajahn Chah

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver

He who knows he has enough is rich.”

– Tao Te Ching

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

– Lao Tzu

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

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

– William James

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

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

– Leonard Cohen

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

Almost anyone can start a community, but it takes real talent and commitment to get people to show up and keep coming back.”

– Andy Sernovitz

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

– Charles Dickens

A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.”

– Norwegian proverb