We had the good fortune of connecting with Ronnie Munoz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ronnie, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I am a Latino. My father from Mexico, my mother from El Salvador. My parents worked very hard to provide for our family and oftentimes that meant we’d either go accompany them at work during our school breaks or be babysat by a relative. The aunt that babysat my younger brother and I would always have us help with lunch or dinner. She would pull out a recipe from her Martha Stewart cookbook and we would get to work. I suppose I became subconsciously infatuated with the feeling of providing sustenance and joy though I never really registered cooking as a career until move in day at college when I decided to drop out and pursue a line cook job at a restaurant in Hollywood. I’ve never looked back since.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What I love most about food is the emotion that takes over when deciding where to go with a recipe. I like to think I’m a playful cook, I put a lot of thought into the food on paper before I do it physically but the idea behind the food is always meant to evoke joy or nostalgia. Currently on my menu is a fried donut with a browned butter powder that I make from scratch. When you take a bite of the donut your saliva rehydrates the powder and it feels like you’re biting into a donut that is topped with a butter glaze instead of powdered sugar. That makes me so happy, and it is all done through modern techniques that a home cook may not think of. Food is so powerful and just being able to serve people makes me proud. Like most professions, becoming a chef is not easy. There’s so much more to food than just food. Cooking is a business. I’d love to throw luxury ingredients on my food just to say that I did, but it wouldn’t make financial sense and I think accepting that as a chef you won’t always be able to cook is one of the hardest parts. Managing a spreadsheet is easy once someone teaches you, but stepping away from the stove to sit in on Profit and Loss meetings is definitely one of the toughest first steps to becoming a chef. Fortunately, if the numbers are good then we get to keep our jobs so thankfully it’s not the biggest hurdle to overcome. Personally, I love to be at the stoves as often as possible, it’s why I got into cooking. I love the adrenaline of being busy, so I learned to cherish every second I get to be running a station during services. I also learned to do the computer work during downtime instead of letting it pile up so I can have the opportunity to be a part of active cooking process as much as possible. If there was anything my followers needed to know about my brand is that because of my training and commitment to food, everything that we can make from scratch, will be made from scratch or outsourced to another chef that can make it for us.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have a spreadsheet on restaurants to go to sorted by city that my friend Jonathan Broida shared with me for these types of situations. But to summarize Los Angeles dining it’d be squeezing in meals at Republique, Luv2Eat Thai, Petit Trois, La Pupusa DTLA, Chi Spacca, Jitlada, Sonoratown, and Kogi. I’m a huge fan of DTLA so I’d take friends bar hopping all throughout and save rooftop views for EP+LP on the weekends. I would also take them to fun service industry shops like Japanese Knife Imports in Beverly Hills and Now Serving in Chinatown. It also helps that even if you don’t purchase anything at either of those shops the owners and staff are really awesome people to converse with.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d dedicate a large portion of my success to the various mentors/chefs I’ve trained under and with that inspire me to be better: Greg Bernhardt, Sydney C. Hunter III, Jose Gamboa, Jeff Mahin, my cooks and so many other friends that kept pushing me that aren’t in the Hospitality Industry. I wouldn’t be half the cook I am if it weren’t for the people I’ve been fortunate to work under telling me to study food outside of work. I remember going home after work and even before work reading and taking notes from books such as The Flavor Bible, Ma Gastronomie, and Culinary Artistry. I could never finish thanking everyone for teaching me.