We at Ladera Grill have been fortunate in our ability to provide Santa Clara County some of the finest cuisine over the years. Much of the credit for our success lies with our talented executive chef Tony Garcia. Tony has traversed a long road to arrive where he is today, designing the cuisine at Ladera Grill; a road that started in a small town near Puerto Vallarta
“I grew up in a small town Buserias just north of Puerto Vallarta. My parents owned a restaurant named Kikos. So I was always around food. I have been cooking traditional Mexican food since I remember, since I was a toddler”
An intense love for cooking set in at a very early age for Tony, where he learned the ropes of running a restaurant from his parents. But a move to the United States in 1979 opened his eyes to the possibility, and opportunity available to him. After his move, he started working in restaurants in San Francisco, and in San Mateo County. He started at the bottom bussing tables, but had his heart set on getting in the kitchen.
“I started as a bus boy, but I asked to move to dishwasher. I needed to get into the kitchen, and that was the way. That is where things really started to happen for me, and allowed me to move up the ranks.”
For several years Tony honed his craft, furthered by his formal education at the San Francisco Culinary Institute. After he received his degree, he made a move into the South Bay where he was a head line chef for notable restaurants like Birk’s and Bella Mia. His time at Bella Mia allowed him to further his expertise in Italian Cuisine, something he had learned to love preparing from his time as a teenager.
“I really like cooking Italian food. It allows you to do so many different things, play with so many different flavors with a simple foundation, simple ingredients, pastas.”
Tony’s ultimate vision was realized when he was able to start his first venture as a restaurant owner and opened Giancarlo’s in Morgan Hill, where he was able to take his love for preparing Italian cuisine to the next level. His restaurant was a run-away hit and experienced nearly 10 years of success. Unfortunately, even with the success and Tony’s growing reputation as a talented chef didn’t prevent the closure of Giancarlo’s. When his lease on the property he operated from expired, the ownership decided to move in a different direction with their property and decided not to renew it.
It was at that time Tony was approached by Dan McCranie about his interest in opening a new restaurant in Morgan Hill, and his desire to partner with Tony on the new venture that would become Ladera Grill.
“Dan asked if I was ready. I said yes. It happened fast. In two weeks we had a place, and we opened a month later. Dan and I had it in mind to do something a little different. To make Ladera Grill a destination.”
The restaurant and kitchen excited Tony. The space gave him the ability to do things his way, to do things he always had wanted to do, and to be truly unique in his cuisine and develop a new concept. The origins of which start with a subtle approach.
“When I cook here at Ladera Grill, I approach things as if I were preparing a meal for the family table.”
Part of that is ensuring that the ingredients used in preparation meet very stringent quality standards. The process of selection isn’t as simple as calling in orders; several meetings, tests and vetting takes place before Tony accepts anything new into his kitchen and on the plates of Ladera Grill’s customers. That includes a very selective choice of steaks, which is a big part of how Ladera Grill gained its reputation as one the best restaurants in Santa Clara County. When Tony was asked what his favorite dish to cook is, he did his best to deflect.
“I truly enjoy all the dishes we prepare here, and I still really love cooking Italian food, but if I were to pick one thing I like the most, it is preparing a perfect filet mignon.”
If you have visited us in the past, we hope that you have tasted the love that Tony puts into preparing his dishes. We invite you to come by and see what Tony has cooking. We always have interesting and new specials, both for lunch and dinner. If you see Tony, make sure you say hi. He has an intense appreciation for the satisfaction of Ladera Grill’s customers.