Food For Thought - From Ranch To Table - Gary Hickey
I took a trip downtown and met up with Executive Chef Gary Hickey from Charro Steak. Charro Steak is known for it's all natural selection of ingredients, its historical setting, and is located in Downtown Tucson, on the corner of Broadway and 5th.
I started off my conversation asking Gary a little about himself and his path to becoming a chef and his story was filled with hardships; many ups and downs in his teenage years that eventually led to him landing his first job in the kitchen at a Greek restaurant which sparked his initial interest in becoming something more in the food business. After he turned of age, he eventually moved up to working in a professional kitchen and that's when he fell in love with the craft "the whole putting time and effort into something and then someone eats it and not only are you nourishing them but you're kind of selfishly taking some back for yourself". That being said the major highlight of his career has been working with the Flores family because it has catapulted his popularity in this business in addition to the day to day stuff like seeing a regular customer come in or getting a Facebook message from a customer saying they stopped by to see him (he's off on Tuesday's guys) and Gary says that it's the coolest thing to have a community that stands behind him and to be able to do cool stuff for them and from what I've seen and read is that he truly cares about his customers and takes the time to get to make sure their experience is up to par. He says the most important thing he's learned through the art of making people happy through food he says is"Humility. There is always something new to learn and always something out there to keep yourself refreshed and educated".
After learning a little more about his path and his interests with food, I asked my most important question: Why should people care about your restaurant? Gary then answered: "Our way of doing things is a little different than other steakhouses. We have coined the phrase "From ranch to table" which means we try to buy all of our produce within 100 miles of the restaurant from local ranches and farms, the meat we use is 100% natural no hormones or antibiotics, vegetarian feed, no GMO's in the feed and also raised on native grains and grass (usually this will be shipped from other places in the US which is harmful to the animals especially cows)". You can't get any more organic than that! Charro Steak also uses the Meyer All Natural Program and they have a small farm in Montana where the cows roam free there is no disturbance whatsoever and animal to animal interaction is enforced. The second reason he said is this restaurant is part of the El Charro family so every time you eat here it's like eating a piece of history.
So how does Charro steak ensure the quality of its ingredients you ask? Well, Gary says "I eat here every day of my life!" as he laughs and I laugh with him because how could you not stuff a tortilla while you're making delicious food?! He also does daily line ups with the staff testing out stuff and trying new things. In addition to that they have a very loyal fan following that Charro Steak takes care of and sometimes they are the ones who get to try Gary's yummy inventions to get the most genuine reaction. I know, I know, I'm jealous too!
Speaking of customers, what is the dining experience that you as a customer can expect at Charro Steak? Gary tells me that they want to offer you "the steakhouse experience without the steakhouse price tag" and minus the tie; a deconstructed steakhouse if you will. Gary then followed saying "you can look around and see there's no tablecloths, there's no big oak walls, we don't have a wine cellar with 5,000 bottles in it, it's very approachable, you can be comfortable in here in a suit and tie or flip flops and shorts" and I have to agree there is no such thing as under-dressed or overdressed for this restaurant.
We know Charro Steak is basically Gary's second home, but when he's not there he and his girlfriend enjoy trying something new every time and love to support local businesses. "The Parish is one of my favorite restaurants, Sushi On Oracle - Tommy is amazing, and Pho from Lee Lee market". I have to agree and absolutely love all of those choices and if you haven't tried them already I highly suggest you do.
I conclude reminding you to check out the influence of the Sonoran Desert in Charro Steaks seasonal menus and write a review on your dining experience I can promise you won't be disappointed. To see their hours and menu visit www.charrosteak.com
A message from Gary:
P.S. - For all my vegetarian and vegan friends Charro Steak will be introducing a new 50/50 concept probably in 2019 with a variety of vegetarian options. More of this to come soon. 😉
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